Pia files inclusive education bill for kids with special needs

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is affirming her commitment to work for the welfare of children with special needs and afford them the right to accessible quality education.

 The senator has filed the ‘Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Special Needs Act’ (Senate Bill No. 69) which seeks to establish inclusive learning resource centers for children and youth with special needs (CYSNs) in all public school divisions in the country.

“Children with disabilities have the same rights as any other child. They deserve access to a kind of education system where their special needs are attended to,” said Cayetano, principal author of RA 10070, which mandates the creation of Persons with Disability Office (PDAO) in every province, city, and municipality.

“They deserve to learn in an environment with compassion and understanding, and where they can grow as productive members of the community,” she added.

The proposed measure was first conceptualized by Cayetano, along with special education stakeholders, when she chaired the Senate Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture back in the 16th Congress. 

Citing records from the Department of Education (DepEd), Cayetano said majority of the country’s 5.5 million CYSNs have limited access to public education due to lack of accessibility features in schools, among other attitudinal and environmental factors.

“This bill aims to address and remove all these  barriers in our education system to allow CYSNs to participate in the regular school system,” the senator explained. 

Under SBN 69, the policy of inclusion shall be instituted in all public schools to provide CYSNs with equitable opportunities to educational services. Furthermore, the bill seeks to empower parents and family members of CYSNs with proper information and training.

All public school divisions of the DepED shall likewise establish an Inclusive Education Learning Resource Center that shall assist in promoting inclusive education to enable regular schools to handle the needs of CYSNs effectively.

The bill also proposes the formation of an Inter-Agency Coordinating Council on Inclusive Education (IACCIE), which is tasked to integrate and harmonize policies with regard to inclusive education.

Lastly, SBN 69 mandates the establishment of Child Development Centers (CDCs) near all schools or within existing Inclusive Education Learning Resource Centers. The CDCs will be specially designed for preschool children and their parents, where early identification of disabilities or special needs and intervention programs can be administered.#

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is greeted with a waving of hands by hearing impaired youth during a sports clinic for the differently abled in Taguig City earlier this year.
“This bill aims to address and remove all barriers to allow CYSNs (Children and Youth with Special Needs) to participate in the regular school system.”

Pia: Train more doctors for persons with rare disease

Nacionalista Party senatorial bet Pia S. Cayetano is urging more investments in specialized training for Filipino doctors to allow them to effectively respond to the needs of rare disease patients all over the country.

Cayetano issued the call as the country observes National Rare Disease Week which is slated every last week of February.

Rare diseases are special medical conditions that affect only a small percentage of the population. Medical services and medicines for these ailments are usually expensive, or hardly available and accessible, especially for the poor.

The principal author and sponsor of Republic Act 10747 or the Rare Diseases Act, Cayetano pointed out the importance of addressing the needs of Filipinos diagnosed with rare diseases andgiving them sufficient support.

“RA 10747 addresses the needs of a very special sector of our society,” the congresswoman said. “No matter how small this sector is, our health system must be responsive enough toinclude them. No one should be left behind in the delivery of health services.”

RA 10747 created a comprehensive policy that would assist individuals with rare diseases by increasing their access to medical treatment and medication. The law mandates the Departmentof Health (DOH) “to develop a system to train a sufficient number of medical specialists to diagnose and manage persons with rare disease.”

Cayetano called on the DOH and other concerned agencies to ensure the proper implementation of the measure, particularly by training and educating more Filipino doctors to diagnose rare diseases in patients as early as possible.

“There are so many different conditions and that’s why the registry, the background, and the early diagnosis for these children as mandated by the law are very important,” she added.

Once diagnosed with a rare disease, patients are given access to benefits from PhilHealth, including the cost of their treatment. They will also be considered persons with disabilities and will be granted privileges such as priority programs and discounts mandated by law.

In filing the measure back in 2015, former senator Cayetano said she took inspiration from her own experience as a mother, having cared for and lost a child to a rare medical condition knownas Trisomy 13.

“When I first ran for the Senate in 2004, I was espousing inclusive healthcare, inspired by the struggles of my father, who had liver cancer, and of my son, who died of a condition called Trisomy13,” shared Cayetano, who is once again running for senator under the same platform of health, education, and the welfare of Filipino families. #

File photo: Children with rare disease and their parents pay a courtesy call to House Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano at the House of Representatives.

Pia leads 3rd annual sports clinic for Taguig PWDs

Senatorial candidate and House Deputy Speaker Pia S. Cayetano, in partnership with the city government of Taguig, led the third Disability Sports Clinic and Competition, an annual sportsdevelopment program for the city’s differently-abled community.

The participants – including children and youth with hearing, speech, orthopedic, and learning disabilities – were given the opportunity to learn different sports, such as table tennis, futsal,basketball, volleyball, chess, and darts.

“Ang paniniwala ko talaga is that sports enables people, especially children. It embeds in their minds the idea that, ‘I can do more, I can do better,’ and so I always want to ensure that even those with disabilities would have that opportunity,” the congresswoman and known sports advocate explained.

She added that the annual sports project opens doors for persons with disabilities (PWDs) to learn new skills and discover their athletic and physical talents.
“I hope and pray that this activity will embolden them to try to achieve more, and not to be scared of any limitations,” said Cayetano, author of Republic Act 10070, which mandates the establishment of a Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) in all local government units.
Cayetano is also the founder of Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation, which provides medical and financial assistance for sick and differently-abled children. The foundation was established inmemory of her own son, Gabriel Rene Cayetano Sebastian, who passed away in 2001 due to complications from a rare disease called Trisomy 13.

“It is the third year that we are doing this sports activity here in Taguig. But I’ve actually been doing this for around 17 to 18 years. Ang anak kong si Gabriel was born with multiple disabilities. In his memory, ‘yung foundation kong Gabriel’s Symphony has been doing [similar] activities all over the country,” Cayetano noted.

The congresswoman, who is now running for senator under the Nacionalista Party in the upcoming midterm polls, expressed her commitment to continue promoting the rights of PWDs and ensuring the enactment of inclusive programs to give them livelihood and job opportunities and better access to government services. #

Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano greets a participant at Taguig’s annual sports clinic for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).