On Election Day, Niño Aguirre proved that democracy is worth fighting for.
The 30-year-old Aguirre had to climb four floors just to reach his voting precinct at Pembo Elementary School in Makati City.
No big deal for most voters who go through the same ordeal come Election Day.
But Aguirre was different—he has no legs.
Aguirre, clad in faded sleeveless shirt and shorts, made his way up alone, with only a skateboard and a powerful sense of civic duty that for a moment, he seemed to have forgotten that he was a person with disability (PWD).
Aguirre proved that for all the Filipino’s misgivings about the government, he needs to exercise his right to vote.
Aguirre’s climb to the higher floors was captured on camera by GMA 7, Inquirer’s election coverage partner, and reported by GMA News’ Isay Reyes.
Reyes reported that media personnel had offered to carry him since there was no specially designated and accessible polling precinct for PWDs. But he politely declined.
According to Reyes, Aguirre “reached his precinct on board a skateboard, his main form of transport after losing both his legs.”
After finding his precinct, it took him almost 30 minutes to fill out his ballot, carefully choosing his candidates.
Beyond physical barriers
His sheer excitement to exercise his right transcended physical barriers, even as he expressed hopes that he, too, could have a stake in nation-building, however feeble his voice and vote could be.
His only appeal: For the kind-hearted to spare him a wheelchair for easy movement in the next round of balloting come 2016.
‘Get him a wheelchair’
His appeal got an instant response from no less than President Aquino, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, reelectionist Sen. Gregorio Honasan and Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo.
“We’ll get him a wheelchair,” the President said in a short but quick reply to the Inquirer, after being informed via a text message of Aguirre’s plight.
Said Roxas: “Please get his personal details. I’ll pay for the wheelchair.”
Quimbo, one of the spokespersons of Team PNoy, said Aguirre’s uplifting story taught everyone a lesson.
The lawmaker said Aguirre reminded everyone that democracy was worth defending not just for the sake of the common good, but for the “voiceless and defenseless,” too.