Sen. Bam Aquino lauded the sign language interpreters for making President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) accessible to our deaf countrymen even as he pushed for the passage of Senate Bill No. 966 or the Filipino Sign Language Act.
“Nagpapasalamat tayo sa sign language interpreters sa SONA sa kanilang pagsisikap na maihatid ang mensahe ng ating Pangulo sa ating mga kababayang bingi,” said Sen. Bam, author of Senate Bill No. 966.
“Maraming humanga sa mga interpreters sa mahigit na dalawang oras na SONA ng Pangulo,” added the senator, “We hope this also translates to a better appreciation of Filipino sign language.”
The measure seeks to declare Filipino Sign Language (FSL) as the national sign language of the Filipino Deaf and the official language of the Philippine government in all transactions with the Deaf. In addition, the measure also mandates the use of FSL in schools, workplaces, and broadcast media.
In his four years as lawmaker, Sen. Bam has tirelessly worked for the welfare of persons with disabilities (PWDs) by pushing the passage of Republic Act 10754, which exempts PWDs from paying value added tax (VAT), in the 16th Congress as co-author.
He also worked for the passage of Republic Act 10905 or the Closed Caption Law as co-author. It requires television networks to use the closed captioning system for news and current affairs programs and entertainment shows for the benefit of viewers with hearing impairment.
In the 17th Congress, Sen. Bam filed Senate Bill No. 967 requiring Filipino Sign Language insets for local news programs. He also filed Senate Bill No. 1249 seeking to mandate government offices and private companies to allocate a percentage of their workforce for PWDs.
Under the bill, which seeks to amend Republic Act 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, government agencies are mandated to ensure that two percent of their employees comprise of PWDs. Private organizations, for their part, will be required to employ one percent of their workforce from PWDs.
“This bill seeks to guarantee the inclusion of PWDs in the workforce and provide commensurate compensation, benefits and employment terms for PWDs as any other qualified employee,” Sen. Bam said.