Press Release
January 29, 2019

Dispatch from Crame No. 458:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima's Statement on Autism and the "Boyet Challenge"


Our struggle for real freedom and true equality in this country can never be won without removing all forms of discrimination and bigotry in our midst. We can never claim to be a people who values the dignity and equal worth of everyone without giving "the least, the lost, and the last" among us - including persons with disability (PWDs) - their places in our national life.

I learned about an internet experiment called "Boyet Challenge" that encourages participants to mimic mannerisms of a person with autism, supposedly patterned after the lead character in GMA Network series "My Special Tatay". This online game provoked howls of protest from cause-oriented groups who basically say that it is unethical as well as illegal, citing RA 9442's provision on penalizing persons who ridicule or vilify PWDs.

I fully agree with the sentiments expressed and opinions conveyed by these groups. Maling-mali na gawing puntirya ng katatawanan at panlilibak ang mga taong may autism o anumang kapansanan. What they have is not a disease, but merely a different ability - the ability to see the world in a spectrum of colors only they can appreciate, only they can see. They are not abnormal. They are special.

Bilang isang ina at lola ng mga batang may autism, nakikita ko at nararamdaman ang mga pagsubok na pinagdadaanan nila at ng kanilang mga pamilya, gaya ng pangangailangang pangkalusugan, edukasyon, produktibong gawain o trabaho, at ganap na pagtanggap ng komunidad at lipunan. Sa dami na ng hamong hinaharap ng mga taong may kapansanan at kanilang pamilya, dadagdag pa ba tayo sa pang-aapi at kawalang malasakit sa kanila?

I appeal for the immediate stoppage of "Boyet Challenge" and similar online projects, and urge the public to please discontinue participating in such platforms that only breed stigmatization of PWDs, and engender discrimination and prejudice against the marginalized and vulnerable groups in our society.

Relevantly, I wish to appeal to my colleagues in Congress to prioritize measures that will elevate the status and improve the situation of people with autism. In particular, I urge for the immediate passage of Senate Bill No. 1433, or the proposed "Autism Care Act of 2017", which I authored. It proposes the creation of Autism Council of the Philippines and aims to increase public awareness about this psychological condition as a national health issue. It also seeks to provide a comprehensive training program for health providers to capacitate them in handling people with autism and assist them on their way to becoming productive members of society. Puso at pagmamalasakit ang ipairal natin. Hindi kalupitan at pagkabalahura.

News Latest News Feed