Tag Archives: Handicap International

John, Jansen, and Hannah Mae: Typhoon Survivors

John is a 15-year old boy. His hands are deformed and, because of the spasms, he cannot hold anything in them.

Jansen is five. He spent most of his days lying in bed because it is difficult for him to sit upright.

Hannah Mae is 11. She weighs nine kilos and lives in a two-room house with a thin sheet of metal as roof.

They are just three of the children who have battled the typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) on this day last year. What sets them apart, though, is that they did so amidst their debilitating physical condition: cerebral palsy.

John has lost his house, which is nearby a beach in Tacloban. Along with it is his family’s income that had been necessary for his medical care.

Jansen was placed at the door of their fridge together with his two brothers as waters rushed into their home. His mother had to hold onto it while clinging onto the wall of an outhouse. Eventually, the waters subsided, leaving Jansen greatly traumatized.

Hannah Mae, on the other hand, was faced with the stress of the disaster helplessly. She wasn’t able to move around even as winds smashed through their windows and ripped of their sheet metal roofs.

It is really necessary for the Philippines to work on its disaster risk reduction for people with disabilities (PWDs) now. It is lying astride the typhoon belt, in the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” and in between the Pacific and Eurasian tectonic plates. Not doing so can worsen the plight of the estimated 10 million PWDs in that country who, as a conference on disaster risk reduction in Cagayan De Oro two years ago concluded, “…are more vulnerable to disasters than others.”

“Decisions and policies to reduce disaster risks must reflect the needs of persons living with disabilities.” ~United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the GMA News and Public Affairs

Photos by Maud Bellon & Molly Feltner of Handicap International

State of Filipino PWDs this 2014

Amidst the law that was legislated five administrations ago, some buildings still violate the Batasang Pambansa 344 that facilitates people with disabilities (PWDs) inside them.

Ferdinand Rañosa, an architect from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH 11), disclosed that there are private building owners who still violate the code. They would have their plans checked by the City Engineer’s Office (CEO) but would not implement them.

In a nutshell, the BP 344 is meant to “enhance the mobility of persons with disabilities by requiring certain buildings, institutions, establishments, and public utilities to install facilities and other devices.” Established last December 7, 1982 and approved last February 25, 1983, it has “no clear sanctions for [its] violators” till today although the CEO can cancel the latter’s certificate of occupancy or certificate of completion once its office is violated.

Remaining bills

There are bills that have remained as bills even though they were proposed since the 15th Congress of the Philippines.

Filed last June 6, 2012 by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, the “Children with Special Needs Education Fund Act of 2012” (SBN 3226) was drafted to increase the Special Education Fund received by the special education centers. It would be pooled from the proceeds of the additional real property tax plus a certain portion of the taxes on Virginia-type cigarettes and imported leaf tobacco.

It was last October 17, 2012, on the other hand, that Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV suggested to give the country’s national athletes, coaches and trainers with disabilities with the same benefits that the “normal” athletes who win in international competitions receive. He was eventually joined by Sen. Pia S. Cayetano, Sen. Francis “Chiz” G. Escudero, Sen. Manny B. Villar, and Sen. Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid. Sen. Vicente C. Sotto III supported the bill at first but abstained from it when the bill was approved on the second reading with certain amendments last February 6, 2013.

A bill to protect those afflicted with HIV and AIDS was also passed as well as about one requiring operators of television shows, home video programs, and motion pictures to broadcast with closed captions.

As of this writing, there is still no current information how many PWDs are benefiting from the regulations favoring in the Philippines and how many of them can access public tertiary education and hospitals.

“The Philippines has a legal obligation to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities.” ~ Handicap International