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.

25 July 2019

The First Philippine Accessibility Summit

The Autism Society Philippines National President Mona Magno-Veluz was among the 200 participants of the First Philippine Accessibility Summit, spearheaded by the Presidential Human Right Committee. The event was a fitting end to the week-long celebration of the 41st National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week; and congruent to our country's commitment to uphold the United Nations Convention to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The image shows many participants during The First Philippine Accessibility Summit.
During Accessibility Summit

The full government support and international NGO engagement was evident in the presence of the DSWD Sec. Rolando Bautista, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary to the President Atty. Michael P. Ong, United Nations Human Rights Coordinator Mr. Mika Kanervavuori, Philippine Human Rights Committee Executive Director USec. Severo S. Catura, DSWD USec. Florita Villar and DoTr USec Artemio Tuazon Jr.

The institutionalization of a national disability-centric forum is an admirable development. We need a unified strategic platform to develop disability-inclusive policy frameworks, consistent with aspirations of international and local groups for genuine inclusion. Local programs for persons with disabilities must align to global/national plans and supported/monitored accordingly.

The United Nations found, in its recent compliance audit, how the Philippine policies are still geared towards charity and medical "solutions" to disability. The Philippine government looks to future disability laws and policies, anchored on social- and rights-based premises. The government is dedicated to shifting from simply giving “needs” to honoring human rights — using their regulatory mandate to break down environmental, communications, organizational and attitudinal barriers.

The summit called for the adoption of the PANTHER principle in rights-based disability advocacy — Participation, Accountability, Non-Discrimination, Transparency, Human Dignity, Empowerment, and Rule of Law.

To reinforce the commitment to uplifting the rights of persons with disabilities, the government further committed 1) to address challenges on resource availability; 2) to review and improve laws and policies to be responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities; 3) to care for persons with disabilities and their families, consistent with the Philippine culture; and 4) to pursue initiatives on health, education, housing, environment, consistent in the context of disability rights.

NCDA dove into the difference between, segregation (separating by disability), integration (grouping without supports) and inclusion (grouping with appropriate supports) — with inclusion being the aspiration.

Clear is the government’s call for transformation towards “Nothing about us, without us”. The ASP has heeded this call and in 2018, supported the creation of the ASP Self-Advocates Circle towards nurturing a new generation of leaders and facilitate their participation at the national and international stage.

The DSWD reported that the latest National Disability Survey resulted in a 12 percent population disability rate. We look forward to the clear data, showing the inclusion of persons with non-apparent disabilities in these numbers. The full dis-aggregated statistical report will be available later this year.

The image shows Ms. Mona Veluz wearing black attire with green shawl and Sec. Rolando Bautista wearing barong.
Ms. Mona Veluz with Sec. Rolando Joselito Bautista

This event is a laudable step towards holding government to account on implementing existing disability laws. Glaring was the lack of consideration for the needs of those with developmental disabilities. Noteworthy was the collaborative spirit of USec Nonoy Catura of the Presidential Human Rights Committee who encouraged the private sector to help government fill the gaps.

Autism-OK Philippines? Not yet; but we are getting there.

The Philippine Accessibility Summit ran from 24-25 July 2019 at the Heritage Hotel in Manila. Watch the summit as it unfolded here.


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