By Hannah Torregoza
Reelectionist Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay is pushing for the passage of a bill that would make it unlawful for malls and other establishments, including public transport systems, to ban persons with disability (PWDs) with guide animals from entering their premises.
Binay said banning PWDs with pet guides in malls, public transport systems and other public or private establishments, should be considered an act of discrimination, and therefore, unlawful in the country.
She pointed out that an act of discrimination is punishable under the existing law, Republic Act (RA) No. 7277, otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.”
Binay initiated the filing of Senate Bill No. 1674 after learning that a shopping mall barred the entry a PWD accompanied by a certified assistance dog a few years ago.
The lawmaker took note of the said report that also detailed how the mall management even requested the police to drag the PWD—a foreigner—who protested the mall’s policy.
The management had argued that there were still safety risks of other mall patrons even if the foreigner’s guide dog was not known to belong to vicious or aggressive breed.
“The mall incident is not isolated. It has come to our attention that different establishments, public or private, have treated PWDs with guide animals differently,” Binay said.
Because of the incident, she said it was necessary to amend the law to accommodate PWDs needing special assistance of guide animals.
She said even Senator Leila de Lima has signified her intention to be made co-author of the measure.
“Under the measure, PWDs should not only be allowed access in public and private buildings and establishments and such other places mentioned in Batas Pambansa Bilang 344 (Accessibility Law) but also be permitted to be accompanied by their guide animals,” she said.
Binay also said she wanted to amend Section 27 of RA 7277, allowing PWDs and guide animals access to public transport facilities.
“An unreasonable denial of access to guide animals of PWDs to public transport facilities shall be considered as an act of discrimination,” she said.
“Denying a person with disability access or use of public accommodations on the ground that he is accompanied by a guide animal shall also constitute as an act of discrimination,” the senator added.