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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Deaf Filipinos March to Support Caption and Sign Language Mandate Bills

On September 12th, approximately 150 deaf people marched to the House of Representatives in the Philippines to push for the passage of two bills mandating the use of sign language in court (HB4631) and on televised news programs (HB 4121). Many of the people who marched were members of the Philippine Deaf Resource Center. The Center gathered over 100,000 signatures calling for the enactment of the bills. The Center expressed in a letter to the House Speaker, Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., that the “120,000 documented deaf … Filipinos will definitely benefit from such practices, making it possible for [the deaf] to [comprehend] timely and relevant information.”

Currently, major news programs in the capital city, Manila, do not use subtitles or sign language insets. According to the Center, “although some regional stations have started utilizing sign language insets with the help of non-government organizations, this practice is unfortunately not carried out by their mother stations.” Lawmakers also cited data from the Center that demonstrated a need for interpreters during investigative and judicial proceedings due to the high incidence of criminal cases that involve deaf persons. The authors of the bill also stated that it is the responsibility of the State to provide interpreters during any government proceedings including police investigations and court or public hearings.
Full Story:
1. Deaf People March to Demand Sign Language in Courts, TV News, Disability News Asia, Sept. 15, 2011, available at
http://www.gmanews.tv/story/ 232189/deaf-people-march-to-demand-sign-language-in-courts-tv-news

2. Gerry Baldo, Bill Seeking Presence of Court Interpreters for Deaf Pushed, Sept. 13, 2011, available at
http://www.tribuneonline.org/ metro/20110913met1.html

Bill requiring the use of sign language inset in news programs

House of Representatives Logo
House of Representatives Logo

House Bill No. 4121 or the Act Requiring the use of Sign-Language Insets in News Programs were presented to the Philippine House of Representatives by Congressman Teddy Casino and Congressman Neri Colmenares which was filed last February 2011. This is a great news for our Filipino deaf because they can now have a chance to access vital news and information from television and other forms of mass media. May I encourage all my readers to support this bill by campaigning for its ratification. 🙂

The HOR’s official website does not have a text file for this bill so I will publish it in its entirety here in my blog.

Republic of the Philippines
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Quezon City

FIFTEENTH CONGRESS
First Regular Session

HOUSE BILL No. 4121
(Filed Feb. 2, 2011)
________________________________________________________________________
Introduced by Reps. TEDDY A. CASIÑO and NERI JAVIER COLMENARES
________________________________________________________________________

EXPLANATORY NOTE

Concerned with the welfare of persons with disabilities, the State affirms and mandates the rehabilitation, self-development and integration of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) into mainstream society through Republic Act No. 7277 or the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities. Through the said law, television stations are encouraged to use subtitles or sign-language interpreters in their newscast programs. However, it can be observed that none of the major Metro Manila news programs are regularly using subtitles or sign-language insets in their reports. Some regional stations are actually utilizing sign language insets with the help of non-government organizations. Unfortunately, their mother stations do not practice the same.

With around a million PWDs, including those who are deaf, there is a long-standing yet unheeded call to use subtitles or sign language on TV. Without these aids, those who are hearing-impaired are deprived of timely and relevant information that broadcast news provides.

It should also be considered that less than 5% of the reported 120,000 hearing-impaired are literate or have received any form of schooling, according to the Philippine Deaf Resource Center. This is why Filipino sign language is preferred over captions.

Through this proposed bill, the broadcast media will be more accessible to the hearing-impaired. It may also pave the way for more captioned or sign-language interpreted programs in the future.

Approved,

TEDDY A. CASIÑO NERI JAVIER COLMENARES
Bayan Muna Party-list Bayan Muna Party-list

Republic of the Philippines
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Quezon City

FIFTEENTH CONGRESS
First Regular Session

HOUSE BILL No. 4121
________________________________________________________________________
Introduced by Reps. TEDDY A. CASIÑO and NERI JAVIER COLMENARES
______________________________________________________________________

AN ACT
REQUIRING THE USE OF SIGN-LANGUAGE INSETS FOR LOCAL NEWS PROGRAMS, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE SECTION 22 OF REPUBLIC ACT 7277, AS AMENDED BY REPUBLIC ACT 9442

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

SECTION 1. Short Title. – This Act shall be known as the “Sign-language insets for News Programs Act of 2011.”

SECTION 2. Declaration of Policy. – It is the Government’s concern and responsibility to make telecommunications and mass media available to persons with disabilities for their rehabilitation, self-development and self-reliance as provided by Republic Act No. 7277 or the “Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities” and the Philippine Constitution which upholds the right to information.

SECTION 3. Section 22 of Republic Act No. 7277 or the “Magna Carta for Person with Disabilities,” as amended by Republic Act No. 9442, is hereby amended to read as follows:

“Sec. 22 Broadcast Media – ALL LOCAL television stations shall be REQUIRED to provide a sign-language inset, AND IF POSSIBLE, subtitles in at least TWO (2) newscast programs a day and special programs covering events of national significance.”

SECTION 4. Constitutionality. – Should any provision of this Act be declared invalid or unconstitutional, the validity or constitutionality of the other provisions shall not be affected thereby.

SECTION 5. Repealing Clause. – All laws, decrees, letters of instructions, resolutions, orders, ordinances or parts thereof which are inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, are hereby repealed, amended, or modified accordingly.

SECTION 6. Effectivity. – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in two (2) newspapers of general circulation.

Approved,

TEDDY A. CASIÑO           NERI JAVIER COLMENARES
Bayan Muna Party-list      Bayan Muna Party-list

May I encourage all my readers to support this bill by campaigning for its ratification? 🙂

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