Campaign for persons with disabilities registration creating ripples among sectors

The campaign for the registration and updating of records of persons with disabilities (PWDS) is continuously creating ripples among the sector, non-government organizations, local government units and government agencies.

As of June 12, 2012, there are at least 24,573 PWDs who registered and updated their records based on the result of the last three (3) ERB Hearings (October 17, 2011/January 16, 2012/April 16, 2012). The number is expected to increase as various projects with voter registration aspect were prepared by various non-government organizations, local government units and government agencies in coordination with COMELEC.

Based on the partial report of the Education and Barangay Affairs Department, Region VII tops the list with a total of 5,256 PWD registrants followed by Region IV-A (4,167), Region V (2,242) and Region VIII (2,238).

Last year, COMELEC declared July 18-23, 2011 as National PWD Registration Week and established voter registration sites in malls and other accessible location. This was made feasible with the technical and manpower support of the Inter-agency and NGO Network on Empowering Persons with Disabilities especially in the dissemination of information and coordination. Early this year, the Commission conducted focused registrations for PWDs by regions per month, to wit: March 2012 for Regions VI-VIII; April 2012 for Regions IX-XII and CARAGA; and May 2012 for Regions I-V, CAR and NCR. Results for these registrations are still being tallied.

For the ARMM general registration, steps are made to encourage PWD registrants to go out and register. A full-blown campaign for PWD registration is expected since a lot of stakeholders are participating and local partners are already established.

While the July 21, 2012 National PWD Registration Day has been cancelled to give way to the ARMM registration which will utilize personnel and equipment from non-ARMM areas, Commissioner Rene V. Sarmiento, focal person for COMELEC in the Inter-agency and NGO Network on Empowering Persons with Disabilities, proposed that a special registration day for PWDs be set in August to further strengthen the campaign for PWD voter registration.

COMELEC works in partnership with NGOs, disability peoples organizations (DPOs), and other key government agencies in a program called Fully Abled Nation. It aims to increase participation of PWDs in the 2013 Philippine midterm elections and other democratic processes by heightening voter awareness among PWDs, promoting partnerships to enhance support and awareness of PWD participatory needs, and strengthening the capabilities of DPOs and NGOs supporting PWD advocacies. Fully Abled Nation is supported by The Asia Foundation and the Australian Agency for International Development.