Senator Bam Aquino urged fellow lawmakers to approve a measure giving deaf Filipinos a national language that honors the country’s diverse cultures and colorful history.
“Kailangan natin ng opisyal na wika upang epektibo ang pakikipag-usap natin sa mga bingi. Naniniwala po kami na ang Filipino Sign Language o FSL ang pinaka-angkop na national sign language,” said Aquino in his co-sponsorship speech for Senate Bill No. 1455.
The legislator’s Senate Bill No. 966 or the Filipino Sign Language Act was incorporated in Senate Bill No. 1455.
In his speech, the lawmaker mentioned that the use of sign language dates back to 1596, according to Dr. Liza Martinez, an esteemed Filipino Sign Linguist.
At present, the youthful senator said FSL has evolved to be an effective visual language that is well-researched, based on Filipino culture and history, and even incorporates indigenous elements.
“The Filipino Sign Language Act seeks to recognize Filipino Sign Language or FSL as the national sign language and endeavors to bring FSL to the mainstream,” he said.
If enacted into law, the FSL will become the official mode of communication of the deaf for government services, calling for trained interpreters in various government offices.
The measure also aims to make FSL as means of interpretation in broadcast media, delivering news and information consistently to the deaf community.
“Let’s build a more inclusive Philippine society and give the deaf community better access to government services, information, education, and justice,” Aquino stressed.
In his four years as senator, he has tirelessly worked for the welfare of persons with disabilities (PWDs) by pushing the passage of Republic Act 10754, which exempts PWDs from paying value added tax (VAT), in the 16th Congress as co-author.
Aquino also worked for the passage of Republic Act 10905 or the Closed Caption Law as co-author. It requires television networks to use the closed captioning system for news and current affairs programs and entertainment shows for the benefit of viewers with hearing impairment.
In the 17th Congress, he filed Senate Bill No. 967 requiring Filipino Sign Language insets for local news programs. He also filed Senate Bill No. 1249 seeking to mandate government offices and private companies to allocate a percentage of their workforce for PWDs.