Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr vows inclusion, empowerment of PWDs

2023 July 19

AWARDING RITES. Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin (seated, 3rd from left) leads the conferment ceremony of the 30th Apolinario Mabini Awards at the Heroes Hall of Malacañan Palace in Manila on Tuesday (July 18, 2023). Bersamin also relayed the message of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. that the government remains committed to addressing the challenges faced by PWDs. 

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has assured persons with disabilities (PWDs) of his administration’s support in ensuring their inclusion and empowerment.

During the conferment rites for the 30th Apolinario Mabini Awards at the Heroes Hall of Malacañan Palace in Manila on Tuesday, Marcos called on the concerned government agencies to address the present challenges faced by the PWDs.

Marcos emphasized the need to create “bridges of opportunity, empathy, and understanding” for the PWDs in pursuit of a “new Philippines that will leave nobody behind.”

“I trust that the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Health, our local government units, and all our partner agencies shall continue to strengthen our programs and services that encourage PWDs to take part in nation-building,” Marcos said in a speech read by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin.

“Continue your various advocacies that reduce prejudice and promote the acceptance and empowerment of our PWDs to eliminate stigma, discrimination, and exclusion.”

He also urged the private sector to create inclusive workspaces that would promote diversity and equality for PWDs and would give them fair employment opportunities.

Launched by the Philippine Foundation for Rehabilitation of the Disabled, Inc. (PFRD) in 1974, the Apolinario Mabini Awards give recognition to individuals, groups, and agencies with outstanding contributions to PWDs.

The President commended the PFRD for promoting measures for the protection and rehabilitation of the disabled, as well as for pushing for equal opportunities for PWDs.

“Through the Apolinario Mabini Awards, you have inspired us to go beyond our perceived limitations, embrace the immense potential within each of us, and foster a more inclusive Philippines,” he said.

Marcos also hailed the awardees for their dedication to advocate for the PWDs and creating a society where disability is not seen as an obstacle.

“The Mabini Awards reminds us that disability does not define a person’s worth. Instead, it is a spark for innovation, resilience, and ingenuity that enables people to do better and to do more,” he said. “I thus thank this year’s Mabini Awardees for breaking down barriers and championing the rights of persons with disabilities. All of you are beacons of hope, lighting the path towards a society that fully embraces all.”

The awards have nine categories – the Organization of Persons With Disabilities Award; Empowerment of Persons With Disabilities Award; Media Advocate Award; Manuel Agcaoili Employer of the Year Award (formerly Employer of the Year Award); Local Government Unit Award; Disability Friendly Establishment Award; Special Recognition Award; Filipino with Disability Award; and Apolinario Mabini Lifetime Achievement Award.

Antonio Llanes Jr. was conferred the Apolinario Mabini Life Achievement Award for his dedication and zeal in promoting the full inclusion of the visually impaired, spanning 29 years.

Llanes pioneered computer-assisted training and co-founded Adaptive Technology for the Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired, a non-profit training and servicing facility dedicated to making blind people effective contributors to society through various IT-enabled training programs.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian and Pasig City Lone District Representative Roman Romulo both received the Special Recognition Award for championing the rights of PWDs.

The award recognized Gatchalian’s efforts and leadership in the passage of Republic Act (RA) 11650 or the Inclusive Education Act for Learners with Disabilities and RA 11510 or the Alternative Education System Act.

Romulo, on the other hand, was recognized for his initiatives in Congress for the approval of RA 11650.

The Posthumous Special Recognition Award was conferred on Capt. Oscar Taleon, citing his exemplary leadership in uniting the sector as co-founder of AKAP PINOY to give economic and political voice to persons with disabilities.

The Filipino with Disability Award was conferred on Jose Go Ranola, who was honored for establishing a construction company and demonstrating competence as an entrepreneur and a businessman despite being blind.

The Organization of Persons with Disabilities Award was given to the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, Inc. (DSAPI), while the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Award was conferred on SM Cares Program on Disability Affairs.

The Media Advocate Award was presented to “Inklunasyon,” the first live-streaming disability-inclusive program in Asia.

Accenture, Inc. (Philippines) received the Manuel Agcaoili Employer of the Year Award for the Large Company Category; Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc. for the Medium Company Category; and Caravan Food Group, Inc. for the Small Company Category.

The Local Government Unit Award was awarded to the Municipality of Carmona, Cavite and Barangay San Lorenzo, Makati City.

SM City Grand Central bagged the Disability-Friendly Establishment Award (Gold Award); Ayala Property Management Corp. and SM Supermalls both received the Bronze Award; and Robinsons Land Corp. was presented the Special Award.

Present during the conferment of awards were PFRD president Edgardo Garcia; Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and his wife Audrey Tan-Zubiri who chairs the 30th Apolinario Mabini Awards; and Jaime Silva, chairperson of the Screening Committee.

Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos (PNA)