In celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, three-term Senator, now Deputy Speaker, Loren Legarda called for an inclusive and equitable growth that would reduce the barriers faced by persons with disabilities (PWDs).

        “As we continue to promote equal rights and benefits for every Filipino, let us not neglect the welfare of our kababayan who have disabilities. With their skills and talent, strong will and dedication, they can play a vital role in nation-building despite their condition,” Legarda said.

       Legarda, principal author of the Amendment to the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability under Republic Act (RA) No. 11228, urged the government to invest more in socio-economic programs that will empower PWDs as active members of their respective communities and help them cope with the ongoing pandemic.  The law provides mandatory PhilHealth coverage to all PWDs and provides special benefit packages for their health and development needs.

        “The challenges faced by our PWDs have been magnified with the health, social and economic consequences brought about by COVID-19. Let us continue to push for initiatives that would help them recover from the socio-economic impact of this pandemic. Let us provide them equal access to resources for them to have the opportunity to further gain skills and competencies,” Legarda said.

       Legarda also encouraged all PWDs to avail of government programs for livelihood and skills development such as DOLE TUPAD, DOLE Pangkabuhayan, DSWD SLP, DSWD AICS, and TESDA trainings. The former Senator further urged the national and local governments to intensify the updating of PWDs database all over the country to ensure that they receive the benefits and services due them.

        “We have to bring the government programs closer to the people, especially to those who face greater barriers in accessing them. We must continue to understand and know more about the needs and challenges of those living with disabilities for us to be able to serve them and assist them better,” Legarda said.

        “Their disability does not mean inability. Our PWDs inspire me to continue to push for legislation and support programs for their welfare and rights. I believe in their capacity to lead and progress on their own. Let us promote an equitable and inclusive Philippines that will provides access to capacity building, skills development, and entrepreneurship for all PWDs,” Legarda concluded.

       Legarda has dedicated her work to serving the Filipino people, especially the vulnerable sector, advancing programs for social justice and human rights, and initiating measures for accessible education, quality healthcare, decent employment and livelihood opportunities for all.

       Aside from the Amendment to the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability, Legarda also co-authored the Filipino Sign Language Act under RA 11106 that mandated the use of Filipino Sign Language (FSL) among deaf employees in civil service and government workplaces, free provision of FSL interpreters in health facilities, FSL in broadcast media, FSL in court hearings, which include deaf parties and other inclusive provisions for the deaf.