After the dismal showing of party list representative for Persons With Disabilities in the last May national elections, I asked myself, where are their supporters? Why is it that they never had any representation in the House of Representatives? When will their voices be heard?
The answers to my questions are connected to the problem currently faced by the Filipino Deaf Community. Based on my informal survey with our deaf students and the experience I had in the last election, I found out a very disheartening truth. There are very few deaf who are registered voters! In our current student population of 92, only 15 have actually voted, a mere 16% of the total. Now, how can the Filipino deaf be heard if they are not active citizens of the country? How can they fight for their rights if they don’t even know their basic right to vote?
In my informal survey, I asked them why they never voted. Most of their answers are, that they are not aware. Now why is that? They followed it up with a startling truth, that their parents don’t have time to explain to them. The members of their family simply ignored them. They reasoned out that it is very difficult for the family to assist them. So they stayed at home during election day.
Because of this, our school decided to launch its ““Election Awareness Campaign Program” last July 31 at MCCID Lecture Hall. More than 50 second and third year deaf students attended the mini-lecture activity. This program will continue up to October 31, in time for the National Barangay Election, which will be held this October 25.
Since majority of the deaf community where I am involved with belong to the voting age, I really saw the need to empower them. I enumerated the many problems deaf people are encountering in the country like unemployment, inability to receive government services, closed captioning and sign language interpreting services and ignoring the 20% discounts on medicine and other vital services. I explained that by registering their vote, the government will become aware of the existence of the deaf community.
During the launch, I also explained to the students how to fill up the Application for Registration as well as the procedure and requirements for registering. I also gave a letter to the parents seeking their help in assisting their child when they register to their respective election offices. It’s time for the family to take part in the social awareness of their child.
I asked our Deaf Faculty Jerome Marzan to share to his students about his experience as a first time voter in the first automated elections last May. Other students also gave their experiences as well as problems they faced when their parents did not allow them to vote.
Here is the list of expected activities:
- Voting Orientation – July 31
- Voter Registration – August 3–15
- Voter Awareness of Barangay Candidates (Barangay Chairman and Barangay Kagawad) – Campaign Period to be announced later
- National Barangay Election – October 25
- Ballot guarding and watching TV about elections – October 25-31
I know that this is not too big a work for us. But the outcome of these efforts would greatly help in supporting the cause of our Filipino deaf brothers and sisters in exercising their inherent rights. 🙂