Monday, March 23, 2009

First deaf person hired to work at Philippines Supreme Court

From the Manila Bulletin in the Philippines

In a precedent-setting move, Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno has approved the hiring of a deaf-mute to work in the Supreme Court (SC) in an effort to given equal employment opportunity to persons with disabilities (PWD).

Arthur L. Principe, a business administration graduate of the CAP College School for the Deaf in Pasay City, was recommended for employment by Justice Arturo D. Brion who, himself, has a hearing impairment.

Principe started working last March 12 as a utility worker at the office of Justice Brion. He manages files, encodes and photocopies documents, and does errands. He communicates with his officemates mostly through writing and at times through sign language for those who are familiar with it.

Justice Brion’s judicial staff head, lawyer Julieta Y. Carreon, describes Principe as a “very efficient and a good natured person.” “He is no different from the other workers. His disability is not a hindrance to his work. He is very much willing to learn. Working with him is a learning experience for us at the same time,” Carreon said.

Principe had a brief working stint as a sales crew of a popular clothing branch at SM Harrison Plaza prior to his judicial appointment. Born deaf and mute, Arthur is very happy with all the blessings coming his way and wants to pay it forward as he plans to teach in the future at the Philippine School for the Deaf (PSD) where he is a member of the board of trustees.

The National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), formerly National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons or NCWDP), has welcomed Principe’s employment as it urged the SC to come up with “institutional mechanisms providing fair chance to PWD to be part of regular plantilla positions.”

Republic Act No. 7277, the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, mandates that “at least five per cent of all casual, emergency, and contractual positions in the Departments of Social Welfare and Development, Health, and Education and other government agencies, offices or corporations engaged in social development shall be reserved for disabled persons.”