Department of Education dialogues with the Deaf

The Deaf Community and FSL Advocates and Supporters meet with the Department of Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro for a dialogue on Deaf Education in the Philippines. It was held at Bulwagan ng Karunungan, DepEd Complex, Meralco Avenue, Pasig City on September 8, 2011.

Films call for end to violence against Deaf women

Weng was not born deaf, but she lost her hearing after getting the measles when she was two years old. Abandoned by her father, she and her mother ended up living in her grandmother’s house, where her uncle maltreated her. She would be treated like a house helper, and was hurt and punished whenever she didn’t do what her uncle wanted.

“I cannot forget the day when we were punished by squatting for long hours under the heat of the sun. My mother was looking at us, helpless and unable to fight for us. I was just crying endlessly and I thought that the day would never end,” recalls Weng.

Weng was able to join a deaf organization, and she strived to learn. Eventually she earned a scholarship in Japan, where she met other people with disabilities.

“I saw a system were deaf people were given services by the government. I experienced great joy with my new friends,” she says.

Back home, although she is lucky to be working as a dental assistant to a boss who understands deaf culture, Weng shares that it is very difficult in other situations.

“I have bad experiences going to court, hospitals and banks because there are no hearing service interpreters. When I filed a theft case, I was forced to pay for an interpreter service so that the court can take my case seriously. There were many instances when people laughed and made fun when I tried to communicate with them,” she says.

Fast facts

The 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey conducted among women aged 15-49 revealed that:
1 in 5 women experienced physical violence since age 15; 1 in 10 experience sexual violence.
14.4 percent of married women experienced physical violence perpetrated by their husband.
Almost 4 out of 100 pregnant women experience physical violence.
Among those who experienced physical or sexual violence, 26.9 percent fought back verbally, 21.2 percent fought back physically, and 17.5 percent sought help to try to stop the violence. Of this 17.5 percent, 45.1 percent went to their own family, 28.5 percent to friends and neighbors and 14.5 percent to in-laws.

The consequences of violence on women include minor to serious physical injuries, anxiety, depression, suicide attempts, and death.
Maffy also lost most of her hearing when she got measles as a baby. Her parents were supportive, putting her through speech therapy classes and providing her with a hearing aid. But they didn’t want to see her as deaf, so they did not give her a chance to learn sign language. Instead, they enrolled her in a regular school. Her classmates accepted her, but she was expelled because she could not cope with the lessons, and she transferred to another school.

But she was bullied in her new school. “They called me ngongo (one who speaks in a nasal tone) and imitated my speaking. They pulled my hair, threw papers at me and even destroyed my stuff. Nobody wanted to make friends with me,” recalls Maffy.

After her father abandoned their family, Maffy asked her mother to enroll her in a different school, like the one attended by her brother, who is a special child.

At her new school, Maffy learned about sign language and the deaf culture. She became so inspired that she graduated class valedictorian. She found her own job. “I felt very good because I finally earned my own money to buy my own personal things. I felt confident and had a sense of direction in life,” says Maffy.

But things turned sour when her mother made her choose between staying home to take care of her brother or having a job and leaving the house. Maffy chose to leave, even though it meant she would lose her mother’s support.

Unable to find a job, Maffy began selling her things to be able to survive.

“I believe I am normal. Deaf people are normal people. Why can’t we be given opportunities? I wanted to prove that the deaf can do so many things. Even without work I tried to do good things, volunteering and even rescuing deaf survivors,” said Maffy.

Not your ordinary films

Maffy and Weng were able to share their stories through advocacy videos, which were shown at the “Breaking Through the Wall of Silence” forum on Violence Against Women with Disabilities.

“These are not your ordinary films. It’s not something that can promise you aesthetic values, but this is something that we can promise is a story made by the people themselves. These are advocacy videos, made with anything practical and accessible which can be used by the grassroots community to create their own story,” said National Council on Disability Affairs Regional Program Coordinator Flerida Labanon, who introduced the films.

The films were simple, photos shown one after another with subtitles and music. There were no special effects or splendid acting, but the messages were powerful.

“It’s not just a story of oppression or violence but a story of overcoming struggles, being able to organize, which are very important for marginalized sectors,” said Labanon, who noted that unpublished studies found 1 out of 3 deaf women are raped, and 65 to 75 percent of deaf girls are molested.

“Many people are not much aware about the deaf women. That’s why we have made these videos to help the deaf women,” said Maffy.

Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Loretta Rosales recalled the first time she got a chance to touch base with persons with disabilities at a forum at the University of the Philippines.

“They were the ones who were so vulnerable to sexual violence, and the first line of defense of women and children is to scream, but they couldn’t even scream,” said Rosales, who worked together with others to get some funds to help train the security forces to help PWDs.

“We need this to remind us what it’s all about,” said Rosales.

“Maybe if society has been more understanding, Weng and Maffy would not have suffered as much,” said Lynette Bautista, Director of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“Violence at most times happens right in the home, at schools, in workplaces. All of us must be able to reach out and see that we do prevent, detect and provide all the services that we can,” said Bautista.

In her reaction to the films, former Isabela Governor Grace Padaca said she was moved by Maffy’s struggle to find a job.

“It is our dream to have jobs. Maybe it is the only dream they will ever nurture in their lives. For people like us, that one single job, that one single source of income might be the highlight of our lives. We hope to spread our message to other sectors of society,” she said.

“If only we are given the opportunity we need not only to share our talents but first and foremost to develop them, to be treated with compassion, then we can empower ourselves not only for ourselves but for the good of our fellow PWDs and society as a whole,” said Padaca.

“It’s time that we utilize media because media is so powerful,” said Quezon City Councillor Alfred Vargas, who launched his advocacy “PWD PWeDe” last October.

Philippine Commission on Women Executive Director Emmerline Verzosa urges the audience to blow the whistle against violence on women. Carmela Lapena
Vargas said that Quezon City’s goal is to make itself the most PWD-friendly city in the Philippines and in Asia. Vargas added that QC Mayor Herbert Bautista has approved the creation of the QC PWD Affairs Office.

“Awareness is a very big challenge at this point. If we make everyone aware, that’s already a big leap toward our goals,” he said.

Deputy Chief for Operations of the Philippine National Police Gen. Arturo Cacdac Jr underscored the role of men in eliminating violence against women.

The PNP, composed of 88 percent men and 12 percent women, has been taking steady steps to address gender issues including violence against women,” said Cacdac, adding that they are currently training officers of the Women and Children’s Police Desk.

In his introduction, AusAID Governance Adviser Sam Chittick emphasized the men’s role in stopping violence against women.

“A minority of my fellow men treat women and girls with contempt and violence, and it’s up to those of us in the majority to speak out and act out to try to create a culture in which this is unacceptable,” said Chittick, who encouraged the audience to join the White Ribbon campaign, an international campaign to get men to acknowledge that we are responsible for creating that culture.

Philippine Commission on Women Executive Director Emmerline Verzosa found the films very moving.

“Although the film did not show physical abuse, violence against women covers emotional abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse and economic abuse,” she explained.

She ended with a quote from UN Executive Director Michelle Bachelet: “Step by step we can work together towards the day when all women live free from violence and realize their full potential as powerful agents for thriving peaceful societies.”

Verzosa urged the audience to join the 18-day campaign to end violence against women. Blow the Whistle on VAW is an advocacy to call on everyone to do their share in stopping violence against women.

“Blowing the whistle is a symbolic gesture of commitment to putting a stop to VAW,” she said.

There will be a simultaneous blowing of whistles on Dec. 12, 2011 at 8 a.m. –KG, GMA News

Source: GMA Network

Deaf Filipinos troop to Congress

To show support for Rep. Teddy Casino’s HB 4121 (sign language insets for news programs) and HB 4631 (interpreters for courts and public hearings), around 200 deaf students, teachers, interpreters and advocates went to Congress on Sept. 12, 2011 to turn over 110,000 signatures calling for the passage of said bills (to Speaker Belmonte) and to attend the day’s session. For the first time in history, through the Office of Rep. Casino, Congress allowed and assisted in setting up for the projection of sign language interpreters for the day’s budget deliberations.

See related stories
GMA News
Congress Website
Facebook Photos

Congressman TEDDY CASIÑO bats for funding for sign language court interpreters

Source: Deaf E-News Blogspot

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2011, Casiño bats for funding for sign language interpreters in courts saying Congress should protect the right of Deaf people to attain justice, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño is asking Congress to allocate at least P2,080,000 to fund sign language interpreters in the country’s courts.

“This seems like a small amount but will do wonders in ensuring that our deaf citizens will have more access to justice. It will give meaning to the adage that those who have less in life should have more in law,” said Casiño.

In yesterday’s hearing of the Judiciary, Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez admitted that despite an SC memo and circular that provides for sign language interpreters in courts, their proposed 2012 budget does not have a specific allocation for said item and related expenses. Instead, such expenses are charged to the savings in the appropriations of the lower courts.

Casiño said because of this, expenses for sign language interpreters have to compete with other expenses charged to savings, like maintenance, repair and improvement of facilities as well as adjustments in pension payments which are often given priority.

“It is urgent that we have specific appropriations for sign language interpreters. Studies indicate that one out of three deaf women are victims of rape and a lot of deaf children are being molested because they find it difficult to complain and seek help. They are victimized twice over in our courts, where justice becomes elusive because our courts do not have the facility to make them participate meaningfully,” said Casiño.

According to the Philippine Deaf Resource Center, of the 200 or so cases requiring sign language interpreters in 2010, only a handful were able to employ such services and less were actually paid for by the courts.

Casiño recounted an experience of a deaf woman in Cagayan de Oro whose parents were killed in a car crash. The case she filed against the driver of the truck that killed her parents dragged because of the lack of a sign language interpreter. She found it difficult to keep track of the court proceedings and, out of frustration, eventually gave up her case.

Casiño is principal author of House Bill 4631 titled “An act providing for interpreters in all judicial, quasi-judicial, investigative proceedings and public hearings involving deaf individuals” which is pending with the Committee on Justice.

Coalition of Persons with Disabilities on the move!

Source: Human Rights Online Philippines

What was once a dream, is slowly blossoming into a reality. What started in December 2010 is now a full blown Philippine Coalition on the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) comprised of the largest national organizations and federations for Persons with Disabilities in the country. The Coalition includes nine different disability constituencies: visually-impaired, speech-impaired, deaf, deafblind, mobility-challenged; persons with extensive disability, intellectual disability, psychosocial disability and chronic illness. The purpose of the Coalition is to build the capacity of disabled peoples’ organizations to themselves monitor the implementation of the U.N. CRPD. It shall submit the first Alternative Report from civil society on the compliance of the government to the treaty which was ratified in 2008. It is also submitting inputs from the disability sector for the U.N. Universal Periodic Review slated also for next year.

For decades, the sector has been seeking services and programs from the government in order to participate in all areas of life. Among the core issues for the sector are education, economic empowerment, access to justice, independent living, and accessibility. Workshops held this year in February, May and July with capacity-building partner, the International Disability Alliance (IDA), were initiated with a Core Group of 15 members. Four members of the Core Group attended the fifth CRPD Committee session in Geneva, Switzerland in April and exchanged learnings with Hungary, Peru, India and Morocco.

In September, three other Core Group members shall again go to Geneva for further training with the IDA together with India, Nepal, Colombia and Rwanda.

Vital partnerships have emerged with organizations such as: Social Watch Philippines / Alternative Budget Initiative; the Ateneo Human Rights Center, Global Call to Action Against Poverty, PhilRights, Physicians for Peace, and several others. Interactions have also taken place with the Commission on Human Rights, as well as the National Council for Disability Affairs, and the Presidential Human Rights Committee, for the State Report. The sector is planning a series of Regional Consultations to gather data in the different provinces. It has also initiated the translation of the U.N. CRPD into Filipino, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Bicolano, Kapampangan, Pangasinense, Tausug and Filipino Sign Language. The ongoing deliberations on the national budget have also given opportunities for the sector to engage with legislators and lobby for disability concerns and insertions into the 2012 budget. Champions for disability issues include Representatives Pryde Henry Teves, Teddy Casino, Luz Ilagan and Antonio Tinio.

The Coalition would also like to see a review of domestic legislation to modify or abolish discriminatory laws, and harmonize these with the CRPD. The underlying view of disability by the CRPD is one of a social, rights-based model, a shift from the purely medical or traditional charity perspective. Key principles include dignity, equality and the full and effective participation of all Persons With Disabilities in all matters and decisions affecting their lives.

Persons with Disabilities are of equal status as the rest of the Filipinos, thus, they too shall fully participate, contribute and enjoy all human rights.

Philippine Coalition on the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Alyansa ng may Kapansanang Pinoy
Autism Society Philippines
Government Union for Disabled Employees
Katipunan ng mga Maykapansanan sa Pilipinas
Las Pinas Federation of Persons with Disabilities
Leonard Cheshire Disability Philippines
Life Haven
New Vois Association
Nova Foundation
Parents Association of Visually impaired Children
Phlippine Association of Children With Learning and Developmental Disabilities
Philippine Chamber for Massage Industry for Visually Impaired
Philippine Deaf Resource Center
Philippine Federation of the Deaf
Quezon City Federation of Persons With Disabilities
Tahanang Walang Hagdanan
Women with Disabilities Leap To Social and Economic Progress

Training for Prosecutors on Considerations for Legal Access of the Deaf

Office of Congressman Tinio Press Release: PRC vows reforms in aid of Deaf LET takers

References: ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio L. Tinio;  Julie Anne D. Tapit, Media Officer

The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) has committed to implementing reforms that will make the licensing examination for teachers more accessible to the Deaf.

In a dialogue with various organizations of the Deaf last Tuesday, PRC Chairperson Teresita R. Manzala vowed that such reforms would be in place when the Licensure Examination for Teachers is administered in March 2012.

The dialogue was facilitated by ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio. The participants included leaders of the Philippine Federation of the Deaf led by its President, Rey Lee; Philippine Deaf Resource Center Executive Director Dr. Liza Martinez; Dean Nikki Perez of the School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde; and Raphael Domingo of the Philippine Coalition-UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

PRC Chairperson Manzala was joined by Board for Professional Teachers Chairperson Dr. Faith M. Bachiller, and Director Amelia T. Empaynado of the Licensure Office.

The deaf activists and advocates raised concerns regarding the accessibility of the LET for deaf education graduates. According to them, Deaf education graduates find it difficult to pass the LET due to lack of sensitivity to the particular needs of Deaf takers. They pointed out the acute shortage of deaf teachers in the public school system’s Special Education centers, which can be filled if measures for the “reasonable accommodation” of deaf LET takers are taken by the PRC.

The PRC vowed to implement “transitional measures” for the upcoming LET in March 2012, such as allowing accredited interpreters to explain examination instructions in sign language and making changes to the physical arrangements to accommodate deaf exam takers. The Board of Professional Teachers will also work in close consultation with the Deaf community to craft better policies, including the drafting of a new PRC resolution regarding accessibility for the Deaf.

“We commend the PRC for their openness to the concerns of the Deaf. We thank PRC Chairperson Manzala for her personal commitment that reforms will be implemented by March 2012,” said Rep. Tinio.

Deaf Leaders and advocates dialogue with PRC regarding LET exam

October 12, 2011. Manila, Philippines.  Another milestone in Philippine Deaf History as Deaf leaders and advocates met up with officials of the Professional Regulation Commission  (PRC) for a dialogue on matters relating to the challenges faced by Deaf LET exam takers. This dialogue was made possible through the coordination of the office of Congressman Antonio L. Tinio. The PRC officials present during the meeting were PRC Chairperson Teresita R. Manzala,   Dir.Amelia T. Empaynado – Director Licensure Office,  Dir. Faith M. Bachiller – Chair, Regulatory Board for Professional Teachers, Officer, Pharson B. Manalo – PRC Regulations Office, German P. Palahyab – PRC – Tacloban, Atty Susan B. Buday, Cynthia Costa and Diodado Lalusis. The Deaf community were represented by Raphael Domingo- Coordinator, Education Access for the Deaf, DLS-CSB Center for Education Access and Development, Rey Alfred Lee- President of the Philippine Federation of the Deaf, George Lintag- PFD Secretary,  Yvette Apurado – Vice President, Philippine Sports Federation of the Deaf. Also present were Dr. Liza Martinez , Director, Philippine Deaf Resource Center, Ms. Nicky Perez, Dean DLS-CSB SDEAS, Ms. Naty Natividad and Patrick Bryan Ablaza, PDRC.

Mr. Raphy Domingo commented on his Facebook page regarding the dialogue with PRC. He said, “meeting with PRC officials on LET for the Deaf yesterday was a success. They will invite us for consultation on improving the LET soon.” Indeed the PRC officials were very much open to the suggestions and recommendations that were presented and vowed to work hand-in-hand  with the Deaf leaders on creating ways on how to make the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) be sensitive to the needs of Deaf LET takers. Accommodating the unique language needs of the Deaf, using a Deaf norm, use of equity testing were some of the suggestions raised and PRC would have to carefully discuss in future consultative meetings with the Deaf. PRC  targets to implement such modifications or improvement for Deaf takers in the next LET exam scheduled in March 2012.

The Philippine Federation of the Deaf is calling the attention of all Deaf graduates of an Education degree in the Philippines and those who have taken the Licensure Examination for Teachers (L.E.T.) exam. The Philippine Federation of the Deaf would like to know your experience regarding the LET exam. Please fill up the form. CLICK HERE. All information will be kept confidential.