The Bureau of Immigration (BI) official named Raul Medina really gave a hard time to Franklin Corpuz. I was there as Frank’s sign language interpreter during his second interview by the new set of BI officials. Medina was not there. They told us that it was his day off. But I did not believe their alibi because I don’t think the government allows a three-day off.
The Immigration Office admitted their mistake. They did not provide a sign language interpreter when they interviewed Frank. They did not allow him to completely fill up that Anti-Human Trafficking form. But I believe the admission is not enough. I have yet to hear Medina apologize about his misjudgment.
During the interrogation at the Bureau of Immigration Office in NAIA Terminal 1 in October 7, BI officers Austria and Lucero asked him again, short of harassing him, if he said that he will be going to Qatar to work. Because if he did say that, then it would be a huge ground for the BI official not to allow him since he would still need to secure another document, this time from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. But then for the nth time, Frank explained that he never said that he will go there for work. He said through writing and supported by his documents, that he will only go there on a BUSINESS TRAINING and NOT TO WORK!
One lucky thing that transpired in this incident is that the whole Medina-Corpuz conversation was PRESERVED IN BLACK AND WHITE. Since Frank cannot speak, he brought a piece of bond paper so that they can write their exchanges of questioning. Medina wrote the question, then Corpuz responded through writing. Nowhere in their written conversations that Frank mentioned that he will go to Qatar for work. What’s worst is that Medina, wrote his reason that he cannot allow Frank to go abroad because HE CANNOT SPEAK! He then wrote his final three-letter decision – OUT! Now that is a clear evidence that Franklin was discriminated because he was deaf.
The Qatar group were the ones who shouldered all of his expenses including his accommodations and plane ticket. The documents they sent were complete. The e-ticket indicated that he will be back to the Philippines after five days. They processed his visa. Their organization has been in the business of training disabled people for many years. In other words, they are a legitimate group. To their dismay, their group even threatened to rally in Qatar in order to allow Frank to leave. And, as an even better gesture, they extended his trip until October 27.
It’s understandable that other countries will discriminate Filipinos. It’s their call. But with Filipinos discriminating their own, that’s very hurting. What’s worst and even extremely irritating if Filipinos discriminate Filipino Persons With Disabilities. Consider the agony of Corpuz during the three day delay and the damage they did to his self-esteem, aside from the impact of this incident to persons with disabilities who felt more indignant knowing that they could experience the same.
I believe that this must serve as a wake up call to all government agencies providing front line services. This is also a measurement of how much awareness they have about the persons with disabilities’ sector. Frank’s wife, PFD President Rack Corpuz told the BI officer Eric Factoran who escorted us all throughout the process of leaving the airport, that their federation offers to teach them sign language. So that the next time they encounter deaf people, they can communicate to them faster and more efficiently.
To all Raul Medina’s in the government, “Matuto na sana kayo na igalang ang lahat ng kalahi nyong Pilipino lalung lalu na ang mga may kapansanan.” (We hope that you learned your lesson to respect your fellow Filipinos especially those who are disadvantaged.)
This is not the end of our fight against Raul Medina’s out there. The group plans to file discrimination case against him.