The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons on the autism spectrum disorder. We envision a society where Filipinos on the spectrum become the best of their potentials -- self-reliant, independent, productive, socially-accepted citizens of an Autism-OK Philippines.

09 June 2014

ASP Joins ASEAN Program Evaluation and Planning Conference

The Philippines, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund, recently hosted the ASEAN Program Evaluation and Planning Conference for PWDs on 1-5 April 2014 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Quezon City, in the continuing effort to "Make the Rights Real" for persons with disabilities in the region. ASP President Jan Peña was one of the Philippine delegates to the said event. Other ASEAN countries represented were Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

ASEAN forum delegates

The event aimed to develop the capacity of the government to implement sufficient and quality auxiliary social services for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) through a technical cooperation among ASEAN member States. Highlight reports from Hongkong and Thailand updated the delegates on state of the art global and regional initiatives by both government and private organizations on the provision of social services for PWDs in the two countries.

There had been a rich exchange of situationers and information during the country paper presentations. The reports included current situation of PWDs in each member state; existing legislations, policies, programs and systems in place to respond to PWD concerns; strategies/mechanisms in place to ensure effective delivery of services for PWDs; and best practices and challenges in the implementation of services for PWDs. Interestingly, issues pertaining to autism were raised recurrently during the discussions, indicating a need for further exchanges of know-how in dealing with autism among development workers in these countries.

The Philippine report was comprehensively presented by NCDA Director Carmen Zubiaga. It featured regional and national disability-related statistics; international treaties and numerous national disability-inclusive legislation binding in the Philippines; a listing of government and private organizations servicing PWDs (including the Autism Society Philippines); programs on social protective services, health, education and livelihood; mechanisms for effective delivery of social services; best practices and challenges in the implementation of services. ASP's stake in serving the Filipino autism community is appreciably acknowledged in this report. It is praiseworthy that the Filipino PWD sector has initially achieved a good measure of success in uplifting the life and the rights of PWDs in our society, and that it continues to reach forward to its desired goals as reflected in the Incheon Strategy of 2012.

Furthermore, the showcasing of the success stories of two pro-active Philippine LGU's - the Municipality of New Lucena, Iloilo, presented in session by Hon. Mayor Liecel M. Seville, and the Tiger City of Mandaluyong (NCR), presented by Hon. Mayor Benhur Abalos during the learning visit to the city - strongly impressed upon the delegates that seriousness in purpose and advocacy is the TOP secret to an effective and stable government program for PWDs.

The last part of the conference was devoted to action planning by each country. Looking back and ahead, each member nation is more motivated to develop new strategies and reinforce existing ones to improve auxiliary social services of government and private organizations serving PWDs. Knowledge and experience sharing during the conference had instilled a sense of oneness in purpose and action among the ASEAN nations. It is highly possible then that member countries can actively support each other through cross-delivery of resources and expertise within the region.

About the author: Mary Janette Infantado-Peña is a former President and Executive Director of the National Autism Society Philippines. She is also a former President of the Autism Society Philippines Bacoor and Dasmariñas Chapters (Cavite). Ms. Janette is a Graduate of AB Psychology from the University of the Phil, Dil. QC. She worked as a Teacher, Trainer and Supervisor in multi-instructional settings. Ms. Janette is a very active autism advocate, being a mother of a 22-year old young man with autism (Muneer). In 2015, her family was conferred the prestigious 2015 Jollibee Family Values Award for its exceptional contribution to the empowerment of Filipinos with Autism.


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