Representative Gina de Venecia is pushing for the passage of the Empowerment of Children with Special Needs Act to ensure that all special children will have the capability to live a productive life.
In House Bill 4447 authored by De Venecia of Pangasinan’s 4th District, it is proposed that a Center for Children with Special Needs will be put up in all provinces. “These are assisted-living communities for children below 14 years old, who suffer from autism and other mental and sensory impairment”, she says.
“The centers will have therapists, teachers and social workers who can provide comprehensive developmental programs and services responsive to the needs of persons with disability. We need to help them attain their highest possible level of functionality, and effective integration to a productive family and community life.”
De Venecia laments the lack of an aggressive government program to address the needs of other disability groups, especially those who suffer from autism, ADHD, Down syndrome and other mental and behavioral impairment.
“Persons with disability, particularly the poor, have become preys to discrimination, because there aren’t enough rehabilitation institutions that address their special needs”, she adds.
At present, the DSWD operates Area Vocational and Rehabilitation Center (AVRC) to help the disabled but it is focused mainly on serving the blind, the deaf and the physically handicapped adults. It also has limited coverage as there are only four branches of AVRC in the country, to date.
De Venecia has also filed House Resolution 01030 that seeks to create a special committee on persons with disabilities in the House of Representatives to guarantee that the rights of the disabled are being upheld.
She explains that while the “Magna Carta for Disabled Persons” and the “United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” warrant the rehabilitation of children with special needs, most Filipinos are yet to be informed on the rights of the disabled.
A 2004 survey estimated that there are 8.3 million disabled persons in the country.