Countdown to Gold

"POPCOM 50th Anniversary"

February 19, 2019


Press Release
December 29, 2016

The Philippine population will continue to increase in 2017 and is projected to reach 105,758,850 by December 31, 2017, based on projections made by the Commission on Population (POPCOM) using data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Included in the projection are 27,293,422 women of reproductive age (aged 15-49). These women are usually the beneficiaries of Reproductive Health services under the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law.

Press Release

2016 National Adolescent Health and Development Film Festival
December 6-7, 2016

The Commission on Population is proud to announce the 2nd Adolescent Health and Development (AHD) Film Festival which will take place in Quezon City on December 6-7, 2016. 

The AHD Film Festival was originally conceived to provide a venue for creativity among young people and at the same time raise their awareness on various issues affecting them such as teenage pregnancy, early sexual encounters, climate change among others.  This year’s theme, Kabataan, Kalusugan, Kalikasan: Magkaugnay, highlights the interrelationship among population, health and environment (PHE) and its effects in the context of sustainable development.

New York City unveils new rules on gender discrimination


NEW YORK — Restaurant owners can’t require ties for male diners only. Gyms can’t tell clients which locker room to use. And in most cases, an employer can’t put “John” on a worker’s ID if she prefers “Jane.”

New York City’s Human Rights Commission is establishing what advocates called some of the most powerful guidelines nationwide on gender-identity discrimination, releasing specifics Monday to flesh out broad protections in a 2002 law.

“Today’s guidance makes it abundantly clear what the city considers to be discrimination,” which can lead to fines of up to $250,000, Commissioner Carmelyn P. Malalis said in a statement. Officials said complaints about gender-identity discrimination have risen in recent years but couldn’t immediately provide statistics.

Some cities around the country have added transgender people to anti-discrimination protections, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo did likewise for his state this fall. Other communities have rebuffed them: Houston voters this fall defeated an ordinance that would have established nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people.

“New York City vaults to the front of the line” with its new guidelines and strong legal framework for human rights complaints, said Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund. “These are real, everyday struggles for transgender people.”


READ: Obama backs anti-discrimination gay rights bill

The guidelines apply to many businesses, landlords and employers. Public schools already have their own, somewhat similar rules. Some religious institutions and private clubs can be exempt.

Groups representing restaurateurs and landlords didn’t immediately respond to inquiries about the new provisions, nor did a major fitness-center chain.

An estimated 25,000 transgender or gender non-conforming people live in the city, officials said.

Besides overall bans on discrimination in housing and hiring, the new guidelines speak to such specifics as balking at using the personal pronoun of someone’s choice — “Ms.” or “Mr.,” for instance. Commission officials say they understand there can be honest mistakes, but repeating them, refusing to correct them or ridiculing the person can be a violation.

The rules also declare that transgender people can’t be denied access to the restroom or locker room where their gender identity belongs, at their discretion. Unisex, single-occupancy bathrooms are suggested but not required.

Objections from fellow patrons or employees “are not a lawful reason to deny access,” the guidelines say. Officials point to existing harassment and sex-crime laws to address any concerns about sexual predators gaining access to intimate settings, a concern raised during the Houston referendum, though its supporters called the problem minimal.


READ: Study reveals gay discrimination in sports

New York’s rules also address topics ranging from health coverage to employee dress codes. They needn’t be reduced to one unisex outfit, but a business can’t require dresses or makeup for women only, for instance, or bar only men from having long hair.

Federal courts have upheld gender-specific dress requirements in some cases, but the commission says that such differentiation “reinforces a culture of sex stereotypes” and that there’s legal room for the city to set its own guidelines.



Manila Bulletin receives award from PopCom


Butuan City – The Commission on Population (PopCom) has conferred a Certificate of Recognition to the Manila Bulletin for its support to the agency through coverage and publishing of stories relevant to the agency’s advocacies.

Mike U. Crismundo, Mindanao coordinator, received the Certificate of Recognition in behalf of the Manila Bulletin. The award was handed over Thursday night by Dr. Juan Antonio A. Perez, PopCom executive director; and Regional Director Alexander A. Makinano of PopCom 13 during 2015 Year-End Assessment and 2016 Planning Workshop of PopCom and awarding ceremony at Luciana Convention Center here.

“Manila Bulletin is awarded this Certificate of Recognition for its continuing advocacy and partnership in reaching out to the masses, heralding the thrusts and directions of Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning, Adolescent Health and Youth Development, and Population and Development Programs,” the certificate read.


“Population programmes depend less on bricks and mortar than on the minds and hearts of men and women.”

-          Rafael M. Salas

The Commission on Population awarded seven local government units (LGUs) who excelled in population and development work. They were also recognized as 2014 Rafael M. Salas Population and Development Awardees (RMSPDA) last November 26, 2015 at Century Park Hotel Manila.

Saguday, Quirino, a 5th class municipality, bested 17 municipalities and regional RMSPDA finalists and was declared the 2014 RMSPDA.  San Jose de Buenavista, Antique came in 1st place and Maramag, Bukidnon was 2nd place.


Saguday, Quirino Mayor Marcelina Pagbilao shared that the RMSPDA served and is serving as a guiding compass on the work they are undertaking. She said that the award is a trophy of the people, a symbol of victory, and a symbol of their collective declaration and commitment for population and development.

For the city category, Butuan City bagged the top spot, followed by Koronadal and Iloilo City who tied for the 1st place and Santiago City for 2nd place.


The Commission on Population (POPCOM) launched the first National Adolescent Health and Youth Development (AHYD) Film Festival with the theme, “Ang pag-aaral ay para sa hinaharap, huwag ipagpalit sa sandaling sarap”.

The Festival kicked-off with a 3-day workshop on Basic Filmmaking on November 23-25, 2015 at Privato Hotel, Pasig City. It was attended by young filmmakers, 3rd and 4th year High School students from 17 regions in the country. These students, already Regional Winners, competed in the National Level for the following categories: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Screenplay, Best Poster and Best Film. 


The Workshop was followed by an Awarding Ceremony on November 26, 2015 at Century Park Hotel, Manila.

 Region IV-A’s Positive bested the films from 17 other regions and was awarded Best Film. Region III’s Kanlungan landed as 1st runner-up and Region X’s Orasan and Region IV-B’s Tanikala as 2nd runner-ups.


Philippine Population Survey Results out next month

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) will release the results of the nationwide population survey in January, months after the original schedule last September.

The National Capital Region (NCR) surveys were delayed “due to the absence of responsible family members.”

PSA National Statistician and Civil Registrar General Lisa Grace Bersales admitted that in the survey data in Metro Manila, most household heads “were working and not available in their residences.”

By the end of November, surveys in Metro Manila were 80 percent done.

“The target is to come out with the full report in January, including population counts, by barangays,” Bersales said.

The PSA is primarily responsible for the nationwide conduct of the 2015 Census of Population (POPCEN 2015), pursuant to Republic Act 10625 or Philippine Statistical Act of 2013.

The mid-decade census aims to update the population count in all barangays nationwide, in compliance with Executive Order 352 or The Designation of Statistical Activities that will Generate Critical Data for Decision-Making of the Government and the Private Sector.

Previous to POPCEN 2015, mid-decade censuses were carried out in 1995 and 2007.

The 2015 census, a complete enumeration of households in the country, is designed to inventory the country’s population – by province, city, municipality and barangay.

The census will provide government executives, policy and decision makers, and planners with updated population counts of all 42,028 barangays in the country, on which they will base their social and economic development plans, policies, and programs.

Data will also be used for research and academic institutions in the conduct of studying population and related disciplines and study of population growth and geographic distribution as bases in preparing population projections at the national and sub-national levels, the PSA said.

Business and industry will likewise use the census data for identification of sites for establishing businesses, determination of consumer demands for various goods and services, and improvement of supply of labor for the production of goods and services.

In the 2010, the country’s population reached 92.34 million compared to the 76.51 million in 2000. The average annual growth rate from 2000 to 2010 was 1.9 percent against the 2.34-percent rate from 1990 to 2000.

Among the 17 regions, Calabarzon  (Region 4A) had the largest population with 12.61 million, followed by NCR with 11.86 million, and Central Luzon (Region 3) with 10.14 million. By province, Cavite had the largest population with 3.09 million, followed by Bulacan with 2.92 million and Pangasinan, 2.78 million

Six other provinces surpassed the two-million mark: Laguna (2.67 million); Cebu, excluding Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City (2.62 million); Rizal (2.48 million), Negros Occidental, excluding Bacolod City (2.4 million); Batangas (2.38 million); and Pampanga, excluding Angeles City, (2.01 million).

Of the 22 highly urbanized cities, four surpassed the one-million mark.These are Quezon City with 2.76 million; Manila, 1.6 million; Caloocan City, 1.49 million, and Davao City, 1.45 million. The POPCEN 2015 is the 14th census to be taken in the country since 1903.

- Ted Torres

Gov’t support, right to privacy urged for cases of HIV-AIDS


SENATOR Grace Poe, in a statement yesterday marking today’s observance of World AIDS Day, said she is looking into having the government subsidize clinical testing for people stricken with HIV-AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus-acquired immune deficiency syndrome) as well as expand the assistance by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) for persons afflicted with the disease.

“We have to foster an environment where the sick can receive the necessary care without being judged,” Ms. Poe said in her statement, as she also noted the stigma on people with AIDS and the lack of confidentiality in testing centers in the country.

“It requires courage to have yourself checked. Our health workers have to make sure that a patient’s right to privacy is protected to encourage people with HIV or those at risk for HIV to get tested and pursue medical treatment,” she said.

PhilHealth currently offers each member an annual treatment package of P30,000, a sum released quarterly and covering medicines and laboratory examinations.

Sought for comment, Health Secretary Janette L. Garin said in a text message that HIV testing is a free service in government hospitals and clinics.

“Our bigger problem is how to convince many to know their status and submit for confidential testing. The current thrust is to shift awareness to schools where we can intercept possible patients at the earliest possible time,” Ms. Garin said.

Ms. Poe also said the government should study creating an office in line with the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998, which ensures and protects the rights and welfare of people afflicted with HIV-AIDS.

“There have been many violations to patients’ rights but no case has reached the courts. Perhaps, we should study creating an office that shall assist and handle HIV-related acts of discrimination,” she said, as she cited data by the Department of Health (DoH) showing a considerable 23,879 cases in the Philippines since 2010.

This year alone, 22 new cases of HIV are reported daily, according to the DoH. The highest number of cases in a single month was 772 in June.

From 1984 to September 2015, 1,309 deaths have also been recorded.

- Alden M. Monzon

HIV cases rising, their faces getting younger


DAVAO CITY—Gary (not his real name) looks up from his bed inside an isolation room of Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), an expression of deep anguish on his emaciated face.

“This is hell,” he said, as he looks out to the seething afternoon light through the glass windows. “The heat is killing me, I can’t stand it.”

The air-conditioning system in the room had long ago stopped working, and Gary was lying shirtless in bed, the ribs of his bony body rising and falling as he breathes. But the heat is just the least of his concerns.

Gary and five others in the room are suffering from the advancing stage of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), the disease that brings down the body’s immune system, robbing it of its capacity to fight back. The room houses AIDS patients with highly communicable diseases; which means that Gary and the other patients are receiving treatment to stave off a host of opportunistic infections taking advantage of their weakening bodies.

Looking gaunt, their skeletal frame haunch in their beds, they are suffering from tuberculosis, pneumonia and swollen lymph nodes, making it so painful for them to eat.

Since 1993, when the first case of HIV was diagnosed in Davao City, the Department of Health (DOH) has already monitored 1,294 cases of HIV-positive patients in the region as of July this year, 124 of which developed into full-blown AIDS cases.


Rising incidence

Dr. Josephine Villafuerte, city health officer, said the number of people diagnosed with HIV had been rising through the years and their faces were becoming younger.

Compared to seven years ago, when the DOH used to monitor only one newly diagnosed HIV-positive in the country a day, the number this time swelled to nine in 2012, 17 in 2014, and 22 in 2015.

Although 39 percent or 270 of the HIV-positive cases registered in September this year are in Metro Manila, the 38 cases in the Davao region make up 5 percent of the country’s newly registered HIV cases, making it among the top five regions with the highest incidence of HIV.

The DOH reported a total of 80 people with AIDS who died in Davao region as of September.

In the region, a total of six new cases monitored in July this year are youths from 15-24 years old, bringing to 71 the total number of HIV-positive diagnosed within this age bracket in the first seven months of the year alone.

Since 1993, cases of youths found positive with HIV in the 15-23 age grouping have reached 519 or 40 percent of the total in Davao City. Those in the 24-34 age grouping registered 599, or 45.74 percent of the total.


Sexually active

The two age brackets are still considered sexually active, Villafuerte said.

Cases among 35-49 years old were down to 152, with only two cases registered in July; and 23 cases in the first seven months of the year, and almost nil from 50 years and up.

Dr. Jing Ramiterre, chief of the CHO reproductive health and wellness center here, said the rising number of new HIV-positive diagnosed per day could mean that the government’s effort to increase people’s awareness of the risks associated with HIV must have yielded results as more people felt the need to have themselves tested and checked for the virus.

But she said the increase in risky behaviors among key population, including unprotected sex among the young while engaging in casual, multiple or frequent change of partners, could have also contributed to the increase in HIV incidence.


Online access

She also cited economic reasons among the factors that contributed to the rise in HIV cases in the region, as well as such factors as peer influence, and the social media, which make it possible to use the web to access potential partners.

Villafuerte said the young must be doing this without knowing the risks involved.

A health worker who refused to be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said he came upon the case of Junjun (not his real name) who, having been addicted to playing Dota, had agreed to have sex with a gay man in exchange of P20 for him to pay the Internet café fee.

Ramiterre said transactional sex debut, contributed much to the increased vulnerability of the young to HIV. “Most infections are transmitted through sex pa rin (as usual),” she said.


National figures

In the whole country, 213 cases or 31 percent of the total HIV cases monitored in September are youth within the age of 15-24 years; 95 percent of these cases were male.

The DOH reported that 99 percent or 211 cases in September were infected through sexual contact; and a large number of the total cases involved male-to-male sex partners.

From January 1984 to September 2015, a total of 7,536 or 27 percent of the reported cases were 15-24 years old. Ninety percent or 6,811 cases of all the youth were reported in the last five years.

The DOH noted a steep increase in cases among youth in 2008, when the 111 total number of cases was 171 percent higher than that in 2007.

From 1984 to 2002, more than half of the cases or 71 per cent among the youth were females, but in 2003, an equal number of males and females were reported. Since then, the trend reversed to male predominance.

Ninety-four percent or 7,107 of the cases reported nationwide were infected through sexual contact; of which, 947 were infected through male-female sex, 3,829 through male-male sex, 2,331 through sex with both males and females; and 369 were infected through sharing of infected needles.



Of the 1,294 cases diagnosed in the Davao region, 1,170 or 90 percent remains asymptomatic, or are not yet exhibiting any symptom.

While antiretroviral therapy (ART) is already available for free at SPMC to extend the healthy life of patients diagnosed with HIV, most of those found in the advanced stage of HIV infection, like Gary, have not been aware they have been carrying the virus until it is already too late.

That is why, Villafuerte said, the government has been campaigning for increased awareness of the risks associated with HIV, to encourage more people to be tested.

The DOH reported a total of 60 people with AIDS who died in the Davao region as of July this year.

Cases of HIV infection are lower among the ages of 35-49 years old at only 152; with only two cases registered in July this year bringing to 23 the total number of cases in the first seven months of the year.

But the good news about early detection is the availability of ART to allow people living with HIV to extend their life on earth. Villafuerte said the youngest of those diagnosed with HIV in the region is a 13-year-old who got the infection from his mother. Thanks to ART, the child is living a normal life, just like other children.


- Germelina Lacorte

Women empowerment

Sen. Cynthia A. Villar has stressed the need for more empowered women because of the signifi cant role they play in making the country a better place to live in.

“When we empower women, we empower families and generations of people,’’ Villar said when she was the guest speaker at 12th annual General Assembly of the Philippine Federation of Local Councils of Women (PFLCW) with the theme ‘’Economic Rights & Opportunities: Growth for Women” at the Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay City.

Villar said women empowerment is not just about the struggle for their rights although this remains crucial because of the high incidence of domestic violence.

In empowering our women, “we should also zero in on their economic empowerment,’’ she said.

The lady senator said she personally believes that a woman who can stand on her own, fend for herself, and her family can become a productive citizen and can defend herself and the welfare of her loved ones. (Mario B. Casayuran)


Palace lauds ILO for $1-M grant to Phl

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang yesterday lauded the International Labor Organization (ILO) for giving the Philippines a $1-million technical assistance grant to be able to comply with the new system on labor laws.

Quoting Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz of the Department of Labor and Employment, Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said this is a “welcome gift as it will boost the implementation of DOLE’s labor laws compliance system (LLCS).”

Washington had earlier announced the award of the technical assistance grant to Manila.

President Aquino had endorsed 372 new plantilla positions for labor laws compliance officers who will be equipped with electronic gadgets to boost their capacity to enforce labor laws, Coloma said.

 “As of November 2014, a total of 69,749 establishments all over the country or 90 percent of the targeted establishments of 70,766 have been covered under the labor laws compliance system,” he said.

 “Of this number, 60,479 establishments covering 333,136 workers have received benefits amounting to P69.425 million from plant-level restitution,” Coloma said over dzRB.

The new labor law system was initiated by Baldoz in 2013.

The LLCS is a combination of developmental and regulatory approaches in the enforcement of labor laws and social legislation.

“This new labor laws compliance system encourages voluntary compliance with all labor laws, including safety and health regulations, and fosters labor-management cooperation through social dialogue,” Baldoz said.

“With the system, DOLE is no longer feared, unlike in the previous labor enforcement system where business owners regard the agency’s corps of labor inspectors as ‘police officers’ looking for violations,” she added.

Distance learning act signed into law


President Benigno Aquino 3rd has signed into law a bill seeking to institutionalize open distance learning in higher education.

Republic Act (RA) 10650, or the “Open Distance Learning Act,” signed by Aquino on December 9, seeks to expand and further democratize access to quality tertiary education through the promotion and application of open learning as a philosophy of access to educational services.

The new law also intends to implement distance education as an appropriate, efficient and effective system of delivering quality higher and technical educational services in the country.

This will cover public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) and post-secondary schools in the Philippines that have existing open learning and distance education programs.

These HEIs shall later be authorized as qualified implementers of open learning and distance education programs.

RA 10650 designates the Commission on Higher Education (CHed) to serve as the regulator of HEIs involved in open learning and distance education.

Under the new law, the University of the Philippines Open University is mandated to provide expertise to the CHed to assist the commission in the development of open learning and distance education and in the appropriate use of information and communications technologies in support of quality higher education.

RA 10650 encourages media and telecommunications networks to promote open learning and distance education programs.

Also, the new law provides tax exemption to individuals and organizations that provide appropriate materials, time and delivery support services for the promotion of open distance learning in partnership with the HEIs.

RA 10650, a consolidation of Senate Bill 2274 and House Bill 4553, takes effect upon publication in the Official Gazette or in a national newspaper.


Vizcaya teen pregnancies up

ByBrenda Jocson Gaudia

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—Amid the alarming prevalence of teenage pregnancy here, Governor Ruth Padilla has asked the assistance of the Population Commission (Popcom) in Cagayan Valley to backstop the local government in value formation.

“This is due to lack of parental guidance among the youth as a result of parents going abroad leaving their children to relatives and friends taking care of them,” she said.

Padilla called for the cooperation of parents, community, church, schools, line agencies of the government and the media saying “the case of teenage pregnancy is alarming.”

She said the family could no longer solve it alone and there is a need for everybody’s participation especially now that most parents are Overseas Filipino Workers.

Padilla also said parents are needed to set boundaries at the same time foster  open communication among their children.

In a recent survey on teenage pregnancy from 2011 to 2013, Popcom said that Nueva Vizcaya ranked third in teenage pregnancy cases in Region 2 with Isabela as top notcher followed by Cagayan province.

Angelita Obcena, Popcom Region 2 director, said family bonding was crucial in resolving the issue.

“Most of teenage pregnancy victims are those who are away from their parents and once a teen gets pregnant, she may lost a good future,” she said.

Padilla said during the recently held 2nd Provincial Population Congress at the Nueva Vizcaya State University that the province is determined to promote value formation as key component in curbing teenage pregnancy.


Cops beef up security for Batang Pinoy

ByMerlinda A. Pedrosa

SEVERAL policemen have been deployed to different playing venues and billeting schools to secure the safety of contingents in the 2014 Batang Pinoy National Championships hosted by Bacolod City from December 9-13.

More than 3,000 athletes and officials are seeing action in the five-day sporting event that opened at the Paglaum Sports Complex Tuesday.

Senior Supt. Pedrito Escarilla, officer-in-charge of Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO), said that while policemen are securing playing venues and billeting areas, athletes, coaches, and officials should also be vigilant to avoid untoward incidents.

When Bacolod also hosted the same event last January 28 to February 1, one of the participants lost her bag to robbers who entered the school they were staying.

The billeting areas are in Bata Elementary School I and II, and Bata National High School for contingents from Luzon; C.V. Ramos Elementary School and E. Garcia Elementary School for the Visayas delegations; Domingo Lacson National High School for teams from Mindanao; and J.R. Torres National High School in Singcang-Airport for Bacolod and Negros Occidental contingent and technical officials.

Join hands for peace, Negrenses urged

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. enjoined Negrenses to take part in the initiatives to attain lasting peace in the province.
“Cooperate and do your share,” was the governor’s call during the Provincial Peace Integration and Development Unit (Pro-Pidu) Stakeholders’ Forum at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City Tuesday.

“Peace is a very vital component of the society. Without it, there’s no progress,” he said.

The governor said the Provincial Government, along with the military and the police, are trying hard to make the province a peaceful place to live in.

He pointed out the need to end insurgency because “(t)his problem is more than 45 years already.”

Marañon said it is the people that make a country progressive as he noted that Taiwan is one of the most progressive countries in the world.

“Taiwan has internal and local peace though they are threatened by mainland China. It’s my dream to make a province a mini-Taiwan,” he revealed.

Meanwhile, Maj. General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, said the Armed Forces is still waiting for the directive from Malacañang for the declaration of Suspension of Offensive Military Operations (Somo) against rebel groups during the Christmas holidays.

Guerrero, who also attended the Pro-Pidu Stakeholders’ Forum, said the details and the exact date of the Somo will depend on Malacañang's decision.

The Army official also urged the communist rebels to abandon the armed struggle and join the mainstream society because the government has development programs to help them improve their lives.(with reports from TDE)

HIV/Aids-related knowledge, attitudes and behavior among Filipinos


By Paul John A. Vesagas, R.N., R.M.

Nurse Station



WHILE much has been published and broadcast in all forms of media regarding HIV/Aids globally, local literatures still prove to be a fertile pursuit.


HIV/Aids is more than ever a social problem moving from the confines of a medical pathology: it is a behavioral as well as a pathologic dilemma that seems to spread in geometric proportions.


As such, it is but wise to explore the public’s attitudes and behaviors aside from knowledge regarding this unspeakable morbidity. Much better if we attempt to understand the Filipino psyche and culture.


Fortunately, the 2008 National Demogrphic and Health Survey (NDHS) has summarized some of these findings.

Awareness of HIV/Aids transmission and prevention methods

Although 94 percent of surveyed Filipino women have heard of AIDS, only 53 percent knows the two major methods for prevention and transmission of HIV: using condoms and monogamous relationships.

It is also noteworthy to observe that knowledge of preventive methods is higher in urban areas compared to rural areas and such knowledge seems to increase parallel to education and wealth: the higher the educational achievement or the higher the socioeconomic standing, the more likely the person knows how to prevent HIV/Aids transmission.

In Misamis Oriental Region, 90 percent of the surveyed respondents claimed that they have heard about HIV/Aids.

Rejection of misconceptions about HIV/Aids

Despite the commendable efforts of the Health Department to campaign against HIV/Aids, only 58 percent of surveyed women know that HIV cannot be transmitted by sharing food and 63 percent know that HIV cannot be transmitted through mosquito bites.

Higher-risk sexual intercourse and condom use

Of the surveyed Filipino women, only 3 percent admitted to have engaged in higher-risk sexual contact which is consummated with someone other than spouse, partner or has contacted a male sex worker. Higher-risk sex is more prevalent among the younger women, those living in the urban areas and those in the National Capital Region.

In Misamis Oriental Region, 54 percent of the surveyed respondents said that they are using condoms during their last sexual contact.

Coverage of HIV testing

Knowledge regarding HIV status will modify ones’ behaviors and attitudes. In fact, a good number of studies suggest that by knowing the status, HIV positive persons will take actions to protect their partners. On the other hand, HIV negative persons will make specific decisions to reduce risk and promote safe sex practices so they can remain HIV-free.

In the Philippines, only 52 percent of women know where to go to be tested for HIV. In Misamis Oriental region, 60 percent knows the social hygiene clinic that offers such services as testing and counseling for HIV/Aids.

[Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]




1M signatures sought for creation of hospital for elderly

(Updated 1:28 p.m., Dec. 3) The Philippine College of Geriatric Medicine (PCGM) is gathering a million signatures to pressure lawmakers to fast-track the bill seeking for the establishment of a public hospital that focuses on the healthcare of indigent elderly people.

The PCGM is spearheading the campaign upon the request of National Center for Geriatric Health (NCGH), which is currently based in Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center.

“We need to let our legislators know that there is a need and a strong support to fast-track our bill into a law so we can fully serve our dear elderly through our medical services,” said NCGH's Dr. Miguel Ramos Jr in his letter to PCGM president Doris Mariebel D. Camagay.

PCGM Administrative Officer Fe Barrios told GMA News Online in an email that they are still setting up an online version of the petition, per the Department of Health's suggestion.
Currently, supporters may only sign the petition through paper forms being circulated by the group.

Ramos said the campaign aims to support the passing of House Bill 2834, which will establish a hospital specializing in geriatric healthcare.

House Bill 2834, introduced by Hon. Eufranio "Franny" C. Eriguel, M.D., states that the new hospital will fulfill the state mandate of providing accessible healthcare “to the underprivileged senior citizens and older persons.” Rie Takumi/KBK/KG, GMA News

MILF assures UNICEF: No more child soldiers


UNICEF country representative Lotta Sylwander (right) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front first vice-chairman Ghadzali Jaafar swap tokens during a ceremony on the UN-MILF Action Plan on protecting children against recruitment and use in combat.Ferdinandh Cabrera

CAMP DARAPANAN, SULTAN KUDARAT, Maguindanao - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is set to make history as the only non-state armed organization seriously exerting all means to remove itself from the United Nations list of armed groups using child soldiers.

MILF first vice-chairman Ghadzali Jaafar signified this intention on Tuesday during the orientation of MILF base commanders on the UN-MILF Action Plan on the recruitment and use of children. The event was attended by UNICEF officials and MILF commanders headed by Jaafar.
Jaafar said he hopes this will set an example to other armed groups like the New People's Army, Abu Sayyaf, and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, among others in the country, to respect international children’s rights.
“We approved this code of conduct as our sincere effort to show our concern to children’s future, but it was never the policy of the MILF to use children,” he said.
Child soldiers have figured in the battlefield, said one MILF element who refused to be identified.
He added it is hard to exclude young soldiers who want to join the rebel troops especially when their loved ones or male family members had already sacrificed and there is no one else to continue the struggle.
“But now realizing the improvements of the peace talks and the recent developments with the sincerity of the present government, we rather wanted to see young fighters in schools,” he said.
“MILF is the only non-state armed group in the whole world attempting to be delisted from the list of armed groups that engage children in armed conflict and this is something very very unique,” UNICEF country representative Lotta Sylwander said.
Aside from MILF officials, military commanders and troops also underwent a series of orientation sessions on the Action Plan to ensure that its command structure adheres to international law.
740,000 people killed annually
Globally, every year, at least 740,000 people die directly or indirectly as a result of armed violence.
One third of these deaths can be attributed to armed conflicts in war zones.
In the Philippines, it is estimated that around 30,000 to 50,000 children were displaced by armed conflict every year for the past years, of which the majority were in the southern Philippines.
The UN-MILF Action Plan is a key component in ensuring that children in situations of armed conflict are protected.
Originally signed in 2009, the Action Plan commits the MILF to concrete, time-bound activities pertaining to the prevention of recruitment and use of children as combatants or in supporting roles.

It also commits the MILF to the separation of any children under 18 from the command structure, unimpeded access for UN verification, and awareness raising on child rights and child protection for its military rank and file, as well as for MILF communities.
Orientations are currently being carried out across all 31 MILF base commands and seven front commands in Mindanao for Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) commanders and troops.
So far, 4,151 BIAF elements from 26 base commands and four fronts have received these trainings. 
At the end of these sessions, MILF front and base commanders publicly commit to ensure that no children are associated with their respective commands, and that if there are cases, these children will be separated from the command structure.—KG, GMA News


Netizens decry DOH anti-pregnancy video

The music video talks about young relationships, sexual intercourse, and teenage pregnancy

Updated 3:01 PM, Dec 01, 2014

MANILA, Philippines – It’s a double whammy for the Department of Health’s (DOH) new infomercial, after netizens slammed it for its negative take on teenage pregnancy in a music video that sounded similar to a popular Korean pop song.

The 3-minute video posted on DOH’s Facebook page on Sunday, November 30 featured a cheering squad composed of boys and girls doing a routine that complemented the lyrics of the song.

The song talks about young relationships, sexual intercourse, and teenage pregnancy from the perspective of a teenage girl, a teenage boy, and an adult.

Kung ako’y mahal mo
Surrender mo ang bandila
Ibigay mo na
Sagot kita, sagot kita

(If you love me / Surrender the flag / Give it up / I got your back, I got your back)

Kung ako’y mahal mo
'Di mo ko pipilitin
'Di pa ko ready
Maghintay ka 
Maghintay ka

(If you love me / You wouldn't force me / I'm still not ready / Just wait, just wait)

In one part of the song, the adult voice warned the teenagers of the consequences of teenage pregnancy, calling sexual intercourse “sin.”

Dapat naman magtapos ka muna

Dapat naman maghintay ka muna
'Wag magkasala, 'wag madapa

(You do have to graduate first / You do have to wait for now / Don't sin / Don't make a mistake)

The teenagers were also described as “gaga” and “bobo”:

'Di naman ako gaga girl
'Di naman ako bobo boy

(I'm not a silly girl / I'm not a stupid boy)

Aside from the cringe-worthy lyrics, netizens also pointed out the song sounded similar to Korean girl group f(x)’s song Rum Pum Pum Pum

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