Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged her colleagues in the Senate to consider the passage of a bill creating a national council tasked to ensure the welfare of persons with developmental disabilities (PDDs), especially in times of natural disasters.
De Lima made the appeal as she thanked the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for rescuing two individuals with developmental disabilities residing in Agoncillo, Batangas after they were left behind by their families locked inside a house.
“Lubos po tayong humahanga at nagpapasalamat sa ating Philippine Coast Guard sa pagsagip sa dalawa nating kababayan na PDD na naiwan at napabayaan nang ilang araw sa kanilang lugar dahil sa pagsabog ng Bulkang Taal,” she said.
“Ang insidenteng ito ay patunay na kailangan ng marami sa ating mga kababayan ang tamang pagsasanay at payo para pangalagaan ang mga kamag-anak nilang may developmental disabilities,” she added.
Last Jan. 19, the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of Batangas alerted the PCG after receiving reports that two PDDs were left behind during the evacuation of those affected by the Taal volcano’s eruption.
Local rescuers reportedly found these two PDDs starving after not eating for days. Authorities immediately responded and provided them with food and water.
“Lalo na sa mga panahong ito ng pagsubok at trahedya, higit sa anupaman, ang kailangan ng ating mga kababayan na may kapansanan ay gabay, pang-unawa at pag-aaruga ng pamilya at kapwa,” De Lima, who chairs the Senate Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development Committee, said.
“This is why I humbly urge my colleagues to consider the passage of Senate Bill No. 855, which, among others, will empower family members and guardians of those with developmental disabilities with proper training and assistance,” she added.
SB 855, which De Lima filed last August, calls for the establishment of a Developmental Disability Council that will be tasked, among others, to provide psycho-social training to family members of those with developmental disabilities.
It also calls for the continuing education, information and training programs and lectures on the proper handling of persons with developmental disabilities of family members, guardians and public servants concerned in their own communities.
“Nananawagan po ako sa bawat isa: nawa’y manatili tayong nakatutok sa mga kababayan nating may kapansanan,_ the Senator from Bicol said.
Once approved into law, the De Lima measure also mandates a databank and information and monitoring system (IMS) on the demographic, socio-economic and incidence, type and prevalence of persons with development disabilities in the country.
At present, the government does not have a national data tracking system that caters to the state of developmental disabilities in the country.