Solon urges Supreme Court to Allocate Funds for Sign Language Interpreters

Cong Teddy Casino
A lawmaker today urged the Supreme Court to create and allocate a budget for a court interpreter item under the judiciary who will be tasked to assist persons with disabilities while attending court proceedings.

The recommendation was raised by Rep. Teddy Casiño (Party-list, Bayan Muna) during the recent budget hearing for the judiciary.

Citing the study of the Philippine Deaf Resource Center (PDRC), Casiño said there are unresolved cases involving deaf children and other persons with hearing disabilities due to the absence of court interpreters during the proceedings.

“In one of the rape cases involving a deaf woman that was cited by PDRC, the complainant failed to narrate her story and those present during the hearing could not understand what she was saying,” Casiño said.

Casiño said that of the 53 cases of sexual abuse of deaf women reported over the past eight years; only 14 cases were actually filed in court. None have prospered.

Appearing before the House budget hearing, Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez said they had already met with the officials of the PDRC who assured them of their support.

“Pending the signing of the bill into law we will address the concerns of the group. We were informed that this is happening in many parts of the country,” Marquez said.

Casiño has filed House Bill 4631 instituting court interpreters for persons with hearing disabilities.

Casiño said the bill proposes a system that would be in place so that interpreters for the deaf would be present during government proceedings whether it is a police investigation, court or public hearing.

Citing the data from the PDRC, Casiño said one out of three women is a victim of rape while 65 to 70% of deaf children are victims of molestation.

“Of the 82 cases cited by PDRC, 67% of deaf complainants lodged rape complaints while 32% of deaf respondents were accused of theft. With the high incidence of criminal cases involving deaf persons, there is a need for interpreters,” Casino said.

The PDRC said the only existing policy covering cases of the deaf so far is Supreme Court Memo 59-2004, which requires that an interpreter be provided for the deaf when they testify in court.

However, the PDRC said the memo contains no specific guidelines on the choice and assignment of qualified and ethical court interpreters as well as guidelines on the actual process of interpreting in the courtroom.

The PDRC said there is no organized system for interpreting sign language in court rooms. Judges, lawyers and court staff also lack awareness in sign communication.

Note: This is a repost from the House of Representatives Press Release.


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