On the UN International Day of Persons With Disabilities, we were fortunate to have guested on the CNN Philippines show Serbisyo All Access. It is the public service show of CNN Philippines where they answer questions from the viewers. As a founder of the PWDPhil, I was more than eager to answer questions many of us are not aware about. The Pinoy with Disability is not a special Pinoy who wants to be treated differently. Like you and me, the PWD wants to be treated equally, fairly and to be included in all activities of nation-building.
Serbisyo All Access gave me and Ruthesia Cuaresma (who we fondly call Mommy Ruth), the opportunity to help educate the people about how PWDs should be treated. As mentioned in a previous article, PWDs need not be treated like they are idiots, they are people like you and me that need to be treated no differently.
One of the questions asked was the statistics on the number of PWDs in the Philippines. The basic determinant of that number is usually the PWD ID. This ID card is considered to be a government-issued ID and is usually for life, unless the disability ceases to be, for some reason. It has been known to happen.
According to the Philippine National Statistics Office, 1.6% of the country’s ppopulation are PWDs. However, there is no breakdown of that number, meaning it cannot be determined what kind of disability ranks as the most number of afflicted people and there is also no record of multiple disabilities, as there are people who suffer from more than one disability. Neither does the number give information on persons whose disabilities were inborn and who acquired their disability from a disease or accident.
Hosts Amelyn Veloso and Gani Oro asked about the importance of having the right statistics on PWDs. This is crucial so the national government can properly and effectively plan and budget for the various programs that, by law, must include PWDs such as housing, medical care and education.
One of Mommy Ruth’s disappointments about the system is the attitude towards PWDs. And I agree. It is the general public’s attitude and treatment of PWDs that make it increasingly difficult for them to be included in all our activities. So much so that some families of PWDs deny the existence of a disability if it is something that doesn’t manifest in appearance, such as Lupus, ADHD and mental problems. Recognizing the problem is the first step to its solution.
Again thank you very much to CNN Philippines for having us today.