TAMPAKAN, South Cotabato (MindaNews/27 April)—Nobody came for the special registration set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for people with disabilities (PWDs) here last Wednesday.
In fact, at the municipal gymnasium, there was even no Comelec desk set up to cater to PWDs who may go out to register for the mid-term polls in 2013 when MindaNews checked the activity on Wednesday morning.
Isabelita Hermosisima, local Comelec assistant officer, cited the “shame factor” as a possible reason why PWDs in the town did not care to register.
“Some just don’t want to be classified as PWD, especially those who are still physically-able despite their physical defects,” she said in the vernacular.
Aileen Buday, president of the municipal PWD association, said they were not informed that a special registration would be held in the town.
“Had I been made aware, I would disseminate the information to our members,” she said.
Based on the record of the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO), there are at least 400 adult PWDs and 90 minors in the town’s 14 barangays, about half of which are in the uplands.
Of the adult PWDs, the MSWDO has no record on who so far has registered. The local Comelec office said they don’t have a segregated data for registered PWDs.
But in total, Tampakan has registered 19,771 voters as of April 16.
Comelec’s Hermosisima claimed she had asked the MSWD to inform the PWDs about the special registration, but local welfare chief Criselda Pacano said she was not aware.
“I could have informed the public through the flag ceremony every Monday had I known there would be a special registration,” Pacano said.
Hermosisima said there would be another special registration for PWDs on July 21 in the town and that they hope members of that sector would come out.
The MSWD office has been made aware of this and vowed to help disseminate the information.
Buday, the PWD association president, said that among the PWDs, there are those who remain ashamed of their condition.
“Because of that, they opt to shy away from the public eye,” she said.
Buday lamented the lack of a PWD desk at the local government unit, which she said could help address the needs of PWDs to bolster their self-esteem.
Our sector remains neglected, she said, citing that privileges such as the 20 percent discount due them on certain goods and services are not widely honored.
PWDs share the same discount benefits enjoyed by senior citizens or those above 60 years old, Buday stressed. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)