Is it more important for the sign language to be used to the letter than for it to draw a point?
For Sen. Nancy Binay, author of the Senate Bill 14551, it is. What Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson and blogger Andrew “Drew” Olivar have done is actually a sign of disrespect “to the sizeable deaf/mute community who already struggle in airing their concerns and aspirations.”
Asec. Uson and Olivar have posted a video in September 14 on the “Mocha Uson Blog” that featured the latter pretending to be a hearing-speech impaired person, flailing his arms around, and making squeaking sounds.
“Such discriminatory actions set back our efforts to make our society more inclusive by providing a more conducive environment for deaf Filipinos to exercise their right to expression without prejudice,” the senator was quoted as saying in a report.
The University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Education Student Council agrees. So apart from condemning the “outright form of discrimination,” it demanded a public apology from Asec. Uson.
“Such seat in the government should not be carelessly given to people who do not take precedence and give value to the importance of a community’s language and culture,” it pointed in the same report.
The Philippine Federation of the Deaf, on the other hand, has gone to filing a complaint against the former board member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) before the Office of the Ombudsman. It also filed a complaint at the Commission on Human Rights alongside the Philippine Deaf Resource Center and the Philippine Coalition on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Asec. Uson has violated the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials, the Civil Code of the Philippines, the Cybercrime Prevention Act, the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the groups claimed.
This was not the first time Asec. Uson has offended the Filipino public. Student leaders of Akbayan Youth have charged Asec. Uson in April 2 with grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
She has also caused cyberbullying attacks against students from St. Scholastica’s College, stated that Mayon Volcano was in Naga City, dared several opposition public officials to visit the wake of a slayed police officer who had died a year earlier, posted a photograph of Honduran military forces in place of the Philippine military, alleged Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to have offshore bank accounts, and called Vice President Leni Robredo “bobo” at least five times on live radio.
“We welcome the public apology the duo recently issued. However, for an apology to be genuine, it must be coupled with a full sense of accountability, concrete actions to rectify the wrong done, and future actions should manifest efforts to protect and promote the welfare and dignity of the PWDs.” ~ Commission on Human Rights
1Otherwise called “The Filipino Sign Language Act,” the proposed law intends to adopt the FSL as an official language of instruction and communication of the deaf in the Philippines. It would be the official sign language in all government transactions involving them in schools, broadcast media, and workplaces.