In celebration of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities on December 3, the General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA) conducted a series of interviews on the launch of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. AGENDA, a network of DPOs and election-focused CSOs in Southeast Asia, was founded by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in 2011. The Enabling Masterplan, a regional policy document launched by ASEAN in December 2018, includes action points intended to be implemented by ASEAN sectoral bodies and member states by 2025. An English transcript of the interview with Lauro Purcil, Founding Member of the Steering Council of the ASEAN Disability Forum (ADF) in the Philippines, is available below and has been edited for clarity.
Interviewer: I would like to ask questions to you regarding with the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan. Last month, ASEAN leaders adopted the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan. What do you think the role that you or your organization and stakeholders can do to implement and ensure the implementation of the Enabling Masterplan?
Lauro: I think one of the best things that happened in ASEAN is the formulation of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan. It is really a great event that the entire 10 countries ratified the ASEAN Masterplan in the summit of November. Now, what can we do as stakeholders? It was all created by the entire stakeholder, particularly the DPOs and the governments. And it only shows because we are the one who created it, definitely we will work to ensure its realization. Teamwork and partnership is the key toward its implementation. The DPOs in every country will work with the government as a cooperative body to ensure that the provision of the Enabling Masterplan will be made into reality. Awareness-raising and continuing to campaign is [also] key. With all that, the media, the business sectors, and the entire public and private sectors should work together under the inspiration of the DPOs.
Interviewer: Thank you very much, Mr. Lauro. You mentioned about the importance of teamwork and partnership that has to be the basic for the cooperation between the DPOs, the government, public sectors, private companies, as well as the media, and so on. Do you think there will be challenges that will be encountered by stakeholders in their efforts to implement the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan?
Lauro: Well, challenges are a reality—we will have to confront these. One of the challenges that I see is on the bringing down to the municipalities—to the rural area, especially to those in the far-flung areas—the benefits of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan. But with the strengthening of DPOs, including the local government units, this main challenge can be overcome. Moreover, I also see the funding challenge. But, to prove that the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan is like an investment to people whose ability to produce and contribute has not been harnessed, [we need to] overcome the economic and financial challenges. So, togetherness, and joint thinking, planning, and implementation, would really make the challenges factors toward the unification of all stakeholders.
Interviewer: Thank you very much Mr. Lauro. Last question, what is your recommendation for solutions to overcome those issues—strengthening, then investment, fulfilling the budget, financial issues, or other recommendations? Do you have anything else that you would like to add?
Lauro: One of the [points] of very great importance is legislation. We all know that it is the congress, or the legislators that produce the budget. So, including all the provisions of the ASEAN Masterplan in the national budget plan, including the local government budget plans, would really ensure the overcoming of these challenges. I would strongly recommend the focus and common approach as much as possible avoid confrontational discussions, but instead, let us be inspiring to one another. Believing and being persuaded that what we are doing is for the common good—not only for persons with disabilities, but for the entire community, for the entire country, and the entire ASEAN—that would be the magic in the realization of the provision of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan.
Interviewer: Thank you very much for your insight, Mr. Lauro.
Lauro: Thank you, and you’re welcome.