EXPLANATION OF VOTE
Senate Bill No. 1907
Instituting Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education Act
Monday, May 31, 2021
Delivered by the Honorable Win Gatchalian, Senator of the 18th Congress:
Mr. President, estimates from various credible sources suggest that there are between 400,000 to 5 million Filipino children living with some form of learning disability. However, there were only about 230,000 of these learners registered in DepEd schools as of School Year 2018-2019. This implies that many learners with disabilities are either not in school, or are enrolled in school without receiving the specialized care and training they need. In either case, it is clear that many learners with disabilities have effectively been denied their constitutional right to a quality education that accommodates their unique needs.
With the approval of the Inclusive Education for Learners with Disabilities Act by this esteemed chamber, we have taken a significant step forward in righting this fundamental wrong. This law will serve as the catalyst for the creation of a truly inclusive education system that is equipped to identify and serve the needs of each and every Filipino learner, no matter his or her circumstances. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture and principal sponsor of this measure, I humbly extend my gratitude to the many senators and numerous education stakeholders who made this day possible.
In particular, I would like to commend the following for their immeasurable contributions to this legislative feat: the Deaf Education Council and its interpreters, DepEd and its Bureau of Learning Delivery – Student Inclusion Division, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Early Childhood Care and Development Council, the National Council on Disability Affairs, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, the Philippine Normal University, the University of the Philippines College of Education, the League of Cities of the Philippines, E-Net Philippines, and Save the Children. Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat.
After two public hearings and 10 intense technical working groups, we are finally able to move forward with this measure along the trail blazed ten years ago when the late Senator Edgardo Angara filed a substitute bill during the 15th Congress that sought to institutionalize inclusive education through special education in all public and private elementary and secondary schools nationwide. Truly, this legislation has been a long time coming.
Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, I can tell you from first-hand experience that the Inclusive Education Act is going to change the lives of many of our countrymen in a big way. The Valenzuela Special Education Center was truly a gamechanger for learners with disabilities and their families when it opened in 2016. I cannot wait to see how the lives of learners with disabilities and their families across the country will improve once the specialized services we offer in Valenzuela City are made available through the establishment of a nationwide network of Inclusive Learning Resource Centers in every city and municipality.
The passage of the Inclusive Education Act signifies that learners with disabilities will no longer be reduced to mere statistics on paper. Sa ilalim ng panukalang batas, walang mag-aaral na may kapansanan ang maaaring pagkaitan ng pagkakataon na pumasok sa isang pampubliko o pribadong paaralan para sa kanyang basic education. Hindi lang matutulungan ng naturang panukala ang mga mag-aaral na may kapansanan, bagkus ay magiging kapaki- pakinabang din ito sa mga mag-aaral na walang kapansanan dahil matuturuan silang maging mas maunawain at matiyaga na handang magpakita ng pagmamalasakit sa kanilang mga kaklase.
The Inclusive Education Act will provide new and exciting opportunities for these children to succeed in school, to integrate themselves into Philippine society, to live with greater dignity and respect as adult citizens. In essence, learners with disabilities and their families will no longer be left behind. To say that ‘our children are the future of the nation’ is the cliché of all clichés, I know. Yet, it cannot help but be said on a day such as this, when the futures of so many children with learning disabilities have become that much brighter.
Thank you, Mr. President, distinguished colleagues.