By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has heaped praises on a 73-year-old deaf and mute grandfather whose photo recently made the rounds online after inspiring Filipinos for his continued hard work amid the pandemic.
De Lima, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, lauded the 73-year-old Alejandro “Lolo Alejandro” Lebuna for serving as an inspiration not only to persons with disabilities but also to every Filipino to persevere despite the challenges of the global health crisis.
“Lolo Alejandro’s motivation, perseverance, and hard work amid these trying times are truly admirable, but what’s more remarkable is how he did not let his disability stop him from earning a living,” she said.
“Saludo po tayo at humahanga sa ipinapakitang pagsisikap ni Tatay Alejandro. Hindi naging hadlang sa kanya ang edad at kapansanan upang magsumikap at itaguyod ang kabuhayan lalo pa’t limitado pa rin hanggang ngayon ang mga oportunidad na ipinagkakaloob sa mga tulad niya sa lipunan,” she added.
Reportedly, Lebuna bikes around Iloilo City to offer hair cut services. His photo that went viral shows him riding his bicycle with a box attached at the front portion seemingly containing his equipment.
On his 73rd birthday last April 10, it was also reported that Lebuna not only received a new bike but also assistance from different organizations that were inspired by his act of perseverance.
The lady Senator from Bicol said she hopes that Lebuna, along with other persons with disabilities and vulnerable members of the society will get enough support from the government.
“Ikinalulugod po nating malaman na maraming organisasyon ang nagpaabot ng tulong kay Tatay Alejandro. Pero hangad pa rin natin na sana ay magkaroon ng malinaw na plano para sa kanila ang gobyerno at maipatupad na ang ating mga panukalang batas para mapatibay ang mga programang tunay na magbibigay ng suporta at kalinga sa mga kababayan nating may kapansanan upang maitaguyod nila ang marangal na pamumuhay,” she said.
As such, De Lima said she hopes that her Senate colleagues would help push for the passage of her measures that can help improve the plight of people with disabilities, particularly Senate Bill (SB) No. 188.
SB No. 188 underscores the role of the National Commission for Disability Affairs as the primary agency responsible for the implementation of policies aimed at fulfilling the rights of the PWD sector.
“It will ensure that PWDs, including the deaf community, have access to their basic needs, including healthcare, education, employment, and other necessary interventions,” said De Lima.
Aside from SB No. 188, De Lima also introduced this 18th Congress SB No. 855 or “Integrating Persons with Autism and other Development Disabilities Act,” which pushes for the creation of an inter-agency and multi-sectoral agency that would develop and implement a National Development Disability Program. (AI/MTVN)