Congress files bill declaring FSL and Deaf Week every September

House Representative Alfred Vargas of Quezon City recently filed House Bill No. 7753 declaring the last full week of September of every year as the “National Week of the Deaf” and September 23 as “Filipino Sign Language Day.”
On its official Facebook post, the Philippine Federation of the Deaf announced this news and offered its sincerest gratitude to Congressman Vargas who authored this bill.
Congressman Alfred Vargas
The bill was filed in compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities and the international advocacy of the World Federation of the Deaf.  It’s purpose is to
instill public awareness of the human rights situation of the Filipino Deaf, in line with the International Week of the Deaf… and for the purpose of promoting recognition and acceptance of Filipino Sign Language as a symbol of the need of the deaf for inclusion and as a reminder of individual’s and the state’s duty to accord due respect to people who are deaf and their linguistic and cultural identity, in line with the International Day of Sign Languages.
The bill is now pending with the Committee on PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES since September 29. You may get the full text of the bill by going to the official website of the Philippine House of Representatives here in PDF Format.
This humble blogger salutes Cong. Alfred Vargas for recognizing us and our cause. Let us support him by thanking him for this advocacy by commenting to his official Facebook page. Mabuhay po kayo!

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Filipino Sign Language now official

Filipino Sign Language for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

Great news!!!

After more than two decades of convincing people that there exist such a language, the Philippines has finally recognized Filipino Sign Language as the true and living language used by the Filipino Deaf community!!! Pres. Duterte signed today Republic Act 11106 or the Filipino Sign Language Act!!! 😍😍😍

President Rodrigo Duterte

We were already believers and has been using/promoting Filipino Sign Language since 1991 when I was then a computer instructor for the deaf at CAP College Foundation, Inc. We were convinced by the explanation of our then Director Rosalie Macaraig who arrived from Gallaudet University. Cory Aquino was still the president then. We have been observing and studying the signs of the Filipino deaf community and we were very much convinced that they are using a unique yet highly developed signs which are distinguishable from American Sign Language.

Yet the struggles in pushing for its recognition was ginormous. The Department of Education and even the first public school for the deaf in Asia are the greatest stumbling blocks. They never believed that there exists a language commonly used by the Filipino Deaf. One of the compelling reasons why Deaf Ervin Reyes and I established Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf back in 1993 was to agressively promote FSL.

But we never lose hope. With the strong persistence of Philippine Federation of the Deaf, the yearly filing of House Bill by Congressman Antonio Tinio, painstaking researches of Dr. Liza Martinez and her group, the bonding together of like-minded colleagues to form Philippine National Association of Sign Language Interpreters and the continued nurturing of the Filipino deaf community, the country has finally recognized FSL as the true and living visual language.

So, after more than five presidents later, it was President Rodrigo Duterte who signed Republic Act 11106 into law on October 30 and published on November 12 coinciding the Deaf Awareness Week celebration (November 10-16). Our dream has finally been fulfilled! Cheers to best times ahead for the Filipino Deaf Community!!!

Download the official law here:

Duterte Signs Filipino Sign Language Into Law – Abs-Cbn News 

Duterte Signs Filipino Sign Language Act – Philippine Daily Inquirer

Government agencies involved in implementing the FSL Act

Several days ago, September 11 to be exact, Philippine Senator Salvador “Chiz” Escudero proudly twitted about very good news regarding the passage of the Filipino Sign Language Act (FSL). He announced that,

The Senate version of the Filipino Sign Language bill was adopted by the House of Representatives last night sans a bicam. I thank our House counterparts and all those who worked hard for the passage of this bill. I hope PRRD will sign it and be enacted into law soon.

To clarify the twit, in the Philippine legislative system, both the House of Representatives (Lower House) and the Senate (Upper House) will create two separate bills on the same topic or issue. Then both houses will study their own versions of the bill in the first, second and final reading. Once they reached that stage, then they must present the two bills in the Bi-cameral Conference Committee (bicam) which is composed of selected members of both houses. They would then consolidate or unify the two bills to come up with one version. Afterward, the “final” version will be presented to the current president, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD) for signature for it to become a law of the land.

Now that the Lower House adopted the Senate version, then there is no more further delay in the process. After more than a decade of painstaking research among the deaf community, debate and even strong opposition from the schools teaching the deaf, the government through the Department of Education and even the general public who are basically ignorant about the situation of the deaf, the bill has finally reached this crucial stage.

As the final version is already on the President’s table, I want to make a simple analysis on the roles and responsibilities of each individual government agency that was mentioned in the “law”. Here is the list of the specific national government agency and the summary of the task that it must do to implement the “law”.

  1. Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (ChEd) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) – They are required to coordinate with each other on the use of FSL as the medium of instruction in deaf education. FSL must be taught as a separate subject in the school curriculum for deaf learners.
  2. Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) – This agency is assigned to use alternative assessment procedures in the licensing of Deaf Teachers.
  3. University of the Philippines (UP), Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) and Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWK) – They are responsible in developing guidelines for the development of training materials in education of the deaf for use of state colleges and universities as well as teachers and staff.
  4. Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWK) – With the involvement of the deaf communities, they are tasked to establish a national system of standards, accreditation and procedures for FSL interpreting
  5. Supreme Court, Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) – Their duty is to create a national system of standards, accreditation and procedure for legal interpreting in FSL. They must also make sure of the availability of sign language interpreters in all proceedings involving the deaf.
  6. All government agencies with deaf workers – They are encouraged to use FSL including the conduct of training seminars for their co-employees.
  7. Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) and National Council for Children’s Television (NCCT) – They are tasked to require TV stations to have FSL interpreter insets in news and public affairs programs. They must also participate in the promotion of FSL in all other broadcasts.
  8. Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) and Philippine Commission on Women (PWC) – They are involved in making an annual assessment on the implementation of the law.

Even though their task may be mentioned in motherhood statements within the sections of the act, conspicuously missing are the following vital government agencies:

  1. Department of Health (DOH) – Although the entire Section 8 of the act is devoted to the health system, only the state hospitals and other government health facilities are given the responsibility to ensure the access of FSL interpreters for deaf patients. Probably the framers of this “law” do not see a need to involve the topmost department since all government hospitals and even barangay health centers are under DOH.
  2. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) – Ever since the plight of Persons with Disabilities has always been a social welfare concern, the DSWD has played a lead role in implementing programs and services for them. However, their agency is not taking an active part in this act. It was only mentioned because their agency employs deaf people.
  3. National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) – Deaf people are considered as Persons with Disabilities. NCDA is the one and only national government agency tasked to formulate policies and coordinate all activities concerning disability issues and delivery of services to the sector.  Although the House of Representatives version mentioned them as one of the agencies tasked to formulate guidelines in the development of training materials for government employees of specific agencies, they are removed in the Senate and final version.  Ironically, a national government agency serving the sector does not play a significant role in law concerning the sector.

Although this is about language and its use, it is hoped that the three agencies mentioned above would still continue to participate in making the “law” implemented by everyone. DepEd was specified five times in nearly all sections while KWK or the Commission on the Filipino Language in tandem with UP appeared four times.

The FSL Act which has eighteen (18) sections are titled “AN ACT DECLARING THE FILIPINO SIGN LANGUAGE AS THE NATIONAL SIGN LANGUAGE OF HIE FILIPINO DEAF AND THE OFFICIAL SIGN LANGUAGE OF GOVERNMENT IN ALL TRANSACTIONS INVOLVING THE DEAF, AND MANDATING ITS USE IN SCHOOLS, BROADCAST MEDIA, AND WORKPLACES”.

Signing it into a law is a very big leap towards recognizing the language commonly used by Filipino deaf which has been suppressed by so-called “deaf educators”. However, much still needs to be done to fully implement the law.

To the Deaf Sector, “Congratulations and here’s to better times ahead! Cheers!!!”

 

 

Senate approves on final reading the Filipino Sign Language bill

The Senate today passed on third and final reading a bill declaring the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) as an official medium of instruction and mode of communications in the country to promote the rights of deaf persons.

Senate Bill No. 1455, sponsored by Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, vice-chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, was approved with 20 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention.

“Let’s establish the official language for the deaf, the Filipino Sign Language, to promote the right of the deaf community in the Philippines to their identity, expression and communication,” Aquino said.

“The use of sign language in the Philippines dates back to 1596. FSL has since evolved to be an effective visual language that is well-researched, based on Filipino culture and history, and even incorporates indigenous elements,” he added.

Senator Nancy Binay, who introduced and co-sponsored the measure, explained that there was a need to identify and adopt standards that would guide the development and advancement, especially in communication, of the deaf and hard of hearing.

“The State should recognize and promote the use of sign languages embodying the specific cultural and linguistic identity of the Filipino deaf,” Binay said.

Binay said the bill would ensure that Filipinos who are hard of hearing are able to exercise their right to expression and opinion without prejudice to their condition.

Under the measure, FSL would become the medium of instruction in educating deaf Filipinos. Specifically, the bill would require that the FSL be taught as a separate subject in the curriculum for deaf learners followed by schools and educational institutions.

Similarly, FSL would be used as the official mode of communication used by government in all transactions involving the deaf, through FSL-trained interpreters in various government offices.

“This would be particularly helpful in our courts and police stations so that deaf Filipinos have a fair share in our justice system,” Aquino said.

He added that the bill would make FSL the “means of interpretation in broadcast media, delivering news and information consistently to the deaf community.” Once enacted into law, the bill would task the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWP), the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) and other stakeholders to establish a national system of standards and accreditation for interpreting FSL in media.

Other co-authors of the bill are Senators Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, Joel Vullanueva and Juan Miguel Zubiri. (AYA)

Source:

Author: Senate Press Release

Date Published: 28-August-2018
Link: Senate of the Philippines Official Website

You may download FSL Senate Bill 1455 in PDF format here.

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