'They should have more seats': Recto laments lack of PWD representation in Congress

At a glance

  • For House Deputy Speaker and Batangas 6th district Rep. Ralph Recto, the persons with disabilities (PWDs) sector deserve more representation in the legislature.

  • Recto says it's been 30 years since the PWD sector had a true representative in Congress.

20230526_131425.jpg Batangas 6th district Rep. Ralph Recto (left) and P3PWD Party-list nominee Rowena Guanzon (Facebook, Twitter)

The persons with disabilities (PWDs) sector should have more seats in the House of Representatives.

Thus, said Batangas 6th district Rep. Ralph Recto in a statement Friday, May 26 as he discussed the importance of a pro-PWD measure in House Bill (HB) No.7576, which the House recently passed on third and final reading.

Recto noted that the last PWD representative in the lower chamber was the late journalist Art Borjal, a sectoral representative appointed by President Corazon Aquino. He was in office until June 1992.

After a 30 year-drought, the P3PWD Party-List, with former Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon as first nominee, garnered almost 400,000 votes, more than enough for one seat, noted Recto.

However, her assumption of duties was halted by a Supreme Court (SC) temporary restraining order (TRO).

“But my point is, they should have more seats. Sa dami ng party-lists, yung pinaka-marginalized ang wala (Out of all the party-lists, it's the most marginalized who aren't represented). And they are not just a sector. They are a nation," said the Batangueño, who is a House deputy speaker.

P3PWD Party-list stands for the Komunidad ng Pamilya Pasyente at Persons with Disabilities.

"And if this bill will result in their issues getting discussed and more of them getting elected, then its impact would be felt beyond voting day," he said, referring to HB No.7576.

Passed by a 295-0 vote early this month, the measure grants early voting rights to PWDs, qualified senior citizens, health workers, and lawyers on election day duty.

For PWDs, the bill complements Republic Act (RA) No.10366, which authorizes the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to establish accessible precincts assigned exclusively for PWDs and senior citizens.

“There is a law which assigns the place. What is lacking is a law which provides more time for them to vote,” Recto said.

The 2010 national census pegged at 1.57 % the share of PWDs to total population, “which if applied today would translate to about 1.773 million PWDs,’” he explained.

The Senate must pass the counterpart bill and the President must sign it, Recto said. "The merits of the bill are so evident that we cannot be blind to it."