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Fil-Am to steer Bush program for disabled

Posted by Michille on July 3rd, 2006

Fil-Am to steer Bush program for disabled – ABS-CBN News!

By BELLY M. OTORDOZ
The Manila Times Correspondent

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A blind Filipino-American lawyer, Olegario D. Cantos VII, has been named associate director for domestic policy in the Executive Office of President George W. Bush.

Cantos’s chief responsibility is to carry out what is called the “new freedom initiative,” Bush’s program aimed toward advancing equality of opportunity for more than 54 million Americans with disabilities.

The agenda promotes significant educational opportunities, greater integration into the workplace, broader access to information technology, and effective participation in every aspect of community living.

The position that Cantos now holds is the highest such post occupied by a person with a disability in the federal government today, and entails working closely with the highest levels of leadership within the White House, including interaction with Bush himself as asked.

Cantos’s primary functions include synchronizing national disability policy across federal agencies, assisting in briefing President Bush on issues of importance to the disability community, advising on potential presidential appointments, representing the Administration at speaking engagements, and maintaining and fostering ongoing dialog with leaders from the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Blind since birth, “Ollie” (as he is fondly called by his family and friends) is the son of Batangueños—Orlando Ferriols Cantos (from Batangas City) and Linda Dagdagan Cantos (from Bauan). Significantly, he is the grandson of Former congressman Olegario Blanco Cantos Sr., who served Batangas’s Second Congressional District from 1965 through 1969.

Cantos is the first ethnic minority and first Filipino American to serve in this position that focuses on advancing the lives of children and adults with disabilities. He is part of the White House Domestic Policy Council. His swift rise to his new post came after just 20 months in public service and after being an attorney for less than seven years.

Cantos graduated from Loyola Law School in 1997 and Loyola Marymount University in 1992 and was one of only a few graduates to have served in the leadership of the alumni associations of both schools concurrently.

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