UNA to Comelec: Consider the deaf, hard of hearing for next debates

MANILA, Philippines – The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to make the next rounds of presidential and vice-presidential debates inclusive, especially for Filipinos who are deaf and hard of hearing.

"Ang proposal at suggestion po namin ay gawing deaf-friendly ang pagbo-broadcast ng live debates," UNA spokesperson Mon Ilagan said in a statement Saturday, February 27.

He continued: "Nais po nating bigyan ang mga kababayan nating hard of hearing ng aktibong papel sa eleksyon sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng tamang impormasyon at upang mapakinggan nila ang posisyon ng mga kandidato sa pagkapangulo at pagkapangalawang pangulo."

(Our proposal and suggestion is to make the broadcast of the live debates deaf-friendly. We also want to give Filipinos who are hard of hearing a chance to play an active role in the elections by providing them the right information so they can learn about the positions of presidential and vice-presidential candidates.)

Ilagan proposed that the Comelec ask its media partners to include a sign language interpreter during the live broadcast, and a closed-caption format for the replays and delayed broadcasts of the debates.

Persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens should also be provided designated seats in the schools where the rest of the debates will be held, Ilagan added.

The statement said UNA – the political party of Vice President Jejomar Binay – "is the only political party who had PWD- and senior citizen-friendly sorties and outdoor events, especially during the 2013 senatorial elections."

After the first presidential debate on Sunday, February 21, Binay complained that he and the 4 other presidential candidates were not given enough time to talk about their plans for the country.

Binay, Honasan at PNPA homecoming

On Saturday, February 27, Binay and his running mate Senator Gregorio Honasan II attended the 36th Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) Alumni Homecoming in Silang, Cavite. Binay is an adopted member of PNPA class of 1987.

During an ambush interview, Honasan was quick to clarify that their attendance in the homecoming had nothing to do with politics and that they came to honor PNPA alumni who sacrificed their lives for the country.

"Pinutol namin 'yung pangangampanya – napakahalaga pa naman ng bawa't sortie – para makapiling ko 'yung mga brothers in arms natin (We stopped campaigning for now – and every sortie is very important – so we can join our brothers in arms)," Honasan told reporters.

Asked about the reinvestigation of the deadly Mamasapano incident, the vice-presidential candidate said one thing is still unclear more than a year after the incident happened: "Kung bakit naputol, napatid 'yung chain of command (why the chain of command was broken). "

"Pero 'yung sisihan, dapat mangyari 'yan at ipresenta 'yung ebidensya kontra o pabor, sa tamang korte, sa tamang panahon, sa tamang proseso. (But the blaming game, the presentation of evidence for and against, should happen at the right court, at the right time, and with the right process.)"

Honasan refused to comment on President Benigno Aquino III's swipe at Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr during the 30th anniversary celebration of the People Power Revolution on Thursday, February 25. (READ: Aquino: Marcos doomed to repeat father's mistakes)

VP contender Sens Bongbong Marcos and Gringo Honasan greet each other at the PNPA Homecoming. #PHVote @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/MxlGFWNRuY — Patty Pasion (@pattypasion) February 27, 2016

Marcos also attended Saturday's homecoming. – Rappler.com

Sign language interpretation image from Shutterstock