Countdown to Gold

"POPCOM 50th Anniversary"

February 19, 2019


June 08, 2017


POPCOM saddened by the passing of UNFPA Executive Director

The Commission on Population (POPCOM) joins the international community in mourning the unexpected loss of Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of United Nationas Population Fund (UNFPA).

Dr. Osotimehin was a global leader in public health, women’s empowerment, and youth affairs. He was particularly focused on promoting human rights, including reproductive health and sexual rights, as well as population and development.


Application Forms for Accreditation are available in the POPCOM's Official Website ( and at the POPCOM Central and Regional Offices.

For more information, you can reach us at Telephone No. (02) 531-6805 or (02) 531-6735. Please send, in sealed envelope, duly accomplished application form, together with your supporting documents, to:

Chairperson, POPCOM Accreditation Committee
Commission on Population
Accacia Lane Extension, Welfareville Compound,
Brgy. Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City

Rody on family planning: 3 children enough

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President-elect Rodrigo Duterte vowed yesterday to push for a stronger family planning program, specifically limiting the number of children of every couple to three.

“I will reinstall the program of family planning. Three children should be enough so social workers must be proactive. Better shape up,” Duterte said during the flag-raising ceremony yesterday at Davao City Hall, his last before he assumes office as the 16th president of the country on June 30. 

He said he expects to lock horns again with the Catholic Church over the issue.

The country’s population has reached over 101 million, based on the latest national census.

Duterte pointed out that among the past administrations, it was only president Fidel Ramos who, despite opposition from the Catholic Church, strongly pushed for the Reproductive Health Law.

The Catholic Church has been consistent in its stand against abortion and contraception. He said he has initiated a family planning program in this city involving the distribution of contraceptive pills for free and the granting of “cash incentive” of as much as P5,000 for vasectomy or ligation.

The RH Law, passed in December 2012 under President Aquino, allows public health centers to hand out contraceptives such as condoms and pills and teach sex education in schools.

Apparently intended as another joke, Duterte said he is ready to offer P10,000 to anyone who would have his penis cut off as part of his family planning drive.

“I give free family planning pills and I give P5,000 for each vasectomy and ligation case and I am even willing to give P10,000 for whoever would have his penis cut,” Duterte said.

He even joked about having his own penis cut off because of the problem between his former wife Elizabeth Zimmerman and his current partner Honeylet Avanceña.

“So that it would no longer be a problem. I have mine cut,” Duterte told the more than 500 Davao City Hall employees who attended the flag-raising ceremony.


- Edith Regalado

DOH posts marked improvement in RPRH spending in 2015 


Despite a temporary restraining order (TRO) on subdermal contraceptive implants issued by the Supreme Court in June 2015, the Department of Health (DOH) posted improved budget expenditure numbers in its 2015 Accomplishment Report released on Wednesday (June 22).

The DOH spent P40.7 billion for Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) services in 2015, a leap from the P26.8 billion in 2014.


Spending for the Health Facilities Program was 32% higher than in 2014. Similar improvements in utilizing the budget was also seen in the Expanded Program on Immunization and Family Health and Responsible Parenting.P240 million was spent by the Commission on Population (POPCOM) for their RPRH activities.

POPCOM reached 599,310 clients through 55,493 Barangay RPRH classes. They also reached 117,583 couples through their Pre-Marriage Counselling (PMC), as well as 25,063 clients through the Usapan Serye program.

Meanwhile, PhilHealth reimbursed P10.14 billion to pay for 992,442 women who gave birth in a facility—an increase from 736,707 in 2014, worth P7.64 billion in claims.

The 2015 Accomplishment Report also highlighted progress in key areas, such as the increase in the number of women using birth control pills. The report also listed that out of 1.5 million live births in 2015, 1.2 million were covered by the DOH.

The DOH also procured anti-retroviral drugs worth P220 million in 2015, to be delivered this year to benefit the 15,000 people living with HIV. Free testing services nationwide are also current available.

Part of the funds were also allocated to help implement the Magna Carta of Women, with 87% of 42,029 barangays already equipped with a Violence Against Women (VAW) help desk.

To help implement the RPRH Law, development partners and civil society organizations additionally spent P5.92 billion and P238 million respectively.

“Even with the partners, even with POPCOM, DOH and other government agencies, we always emphasize that we have to minimize trainings and advocacies. We now have to maximize service delivery,” DOH Secretary Janette Loreto-Garin noted.  Aya Tantiangco/BM, GMA News

DOH: 'We were able to deliver on RH promise'

THE Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday that the outgoing Aquino administration was able to fulfil its promise of delivering an effective reproductive health program despite the odds posed against the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law.

In a press conference in Manila, Health Secretary Janette Garin noted how they were able to fulfil, albeit brief, the promise of providing the public proper family planning programs, particularly in the areas of maternal, neonatal, child health; family planning; adolescent sexual reproductive health; sexually transmitted infections; and, gender-based violence.

"Now is the time to shift away from advocacy and focus on service delivery. The National and Regional Implementation Teams, in partnership with the civil society organizations, have enhanced the implementation, especially at the grassroots level," said Garin.

Based on the 2015 RPRH Accomplishment Report, a total of 1,200,000 (80 percent) total live births were covered by DOH facilities out of the more than 1.5 million total of live births, with the remaining 20 percent were home deliveries.

Also, an estimated 5.5 million women of reproductive age have availed of modern family planning methods, both natural and artificial; while the Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (mCPR) has increased to 44 percent from 41.14 percent in 2014.

The law also resulted to some 134,000 young people getting counseled; 18,140 adolescents engaged through You-For-You (U4U) Campaign; and 272,955 girls aged 9 to 10 years old vaccinated against Human papilloma virus (HPV).

A total of 13,908 people living with HIV are also presently undergoing Anti-Retroviral Therapy and are being financed using the P324 million DOH budget for the medicines, testing, counseling, and advocacy programs against HIV.

Finally, the RPRH law has also resulted to 3,256 new Violence Against Women (VAW) Desks that have been established in barangays nationwide and are ready to respond to gender-based violence cases.

Republic Act 10354, or the RPRH Law, aims to guarantee a universal access to methods of contraception, fertility control, sexual education, and maternal care.

DOH to sue Sorsogon mayor

In a related development, DOH–Family Health Office Director Dr. Junice Melgar disclosed that they are already preparing to file charges against Sorsogon City Mayor Sally Lee over her city's decision to block all family planning programs.

"Actually, the legal office of the DOH has been consulting with the SolGen about the particular case in Sorsogon. The DOH is preparing a case. I think even the civil society organizations are pushing on with the case at the Ombudsman. A case of violations of the RH Law," said Melgar.

The health official noted how Lee has issued an Executive Order declaring Sorsogon City as being a "pro-life city".

"The de facto effect is that all provisions have been stopped. All utilization of logistics being sent by the DOH were stopped and actually returned to the DOH Central Office," said Melgar.

Aside from building up a case, the DOH has already asked the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to help in ensuring that all local government units will implement the RPRH law.

"We hope that the DILG and the Union of Local Authorities can be asked for this action to restrain the LGUs from passing policies against the RPRH law," said Commission on Population Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III. (HDT/Sunnex)

DOH preparing a case vs Sorsogon City mayor for banning family planning

By Jet Villa

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday it is preparing a case against Sorsogon City Mayor Sally Lee for banning family planning services and contraceptives in government health facilties since February 2015.

In the 2nd Popularized Report on the Implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Act of 2012, or Republic Act 10354, DOH director for Family Health Office Dr. Junice Melgar said Lee had issued an executive order declaring Sorsogon City as a "pro-life" city.

As a result, she said all family planning logistics provided by the DOH to the rural health units in the city were sent back to the department. 

"There was a ban on family planning in Sorsogon as early as February last year so family planning commodities were withdrawn while services were stopped arbitrarily," she said.

"But the DOH did not sit down and watch it.  The DOH sent a delegation to Sorsogon to stop the council from enacting an ordinance that would codify the mayor's order," she added.

Melgar, however, said the order "unfortunately still stands but the DOH is develepiong a case against Lee.

"It's a first of its kind case to make the mayor accountable for gross violation of RH law," she said.

But the DOH is having a hard time getting information even from peeople who were deprived of the reproductive health services.

"There were efforts to get people from the ground, women and their families, to testify. But like our Manila experience, the women were really scared. So we know of people who were deprived of services but none of them were eager to come out and expose themselves and be involved in the case," she said.

Melgar was refering to a similar ban implemented by former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza more than a decade ago.

"Unfortunately, Sally Lee was re-elected. We were hoping she would not. There was a good opposition candidate who was supportive of RH law but he died of heart attack," she said.

Government, NGOs and Partners Spent P40.7B for 2015 RPRH Services


for web 

Expenditures for the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) of Filipinos increased to 40.70 billion pesos from 26.8 billion in 2014. This was the highlight of the Department of Health (DOH) RPRH Report for 2015.

The leap in expenditure came despite last year’s hampered implementation due to the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court in June 2015.

According to the 2015 RPRH Accomplishment Report, the TRO prevented DOH and other agencies mandated to implement the RPRH Law from implementing the subdermal implant method of family planning.

Moreover, DOH Secretary Janette Loreto-Garin attributes the increase in expenditure to the performance of the health department in utilization of its budget.

“I would attribute it to the good performance of DOH for the past months, for the past year. Because our utilization is not only good but fast, systematic, and planned. We don’t have delays because agencies and partners work together in a very much well-defined directions,” Garin explained.

The 2015 Accomplishment Report unveiled last June 22 showed that budget expenditure for Health Facilities Enhancement Program posted a 32% improvement at 89% from only 57% in 2014. For the Expanded Program on Immunization, the utilization rate increased to 99% from 95% in 2014. By the end of 2015, 78% of funds for Family Health and Responsible Parenting has been used, compared to only 61% during the previous year.

Will RH be a priority?


OUTSIDE, the entire metropolis, it seemed, was caught up in the feverish enactment of a “make-believe” scenario of “The Big One,” the long-overdue major earthquake hitting Metro Manila.

But inside the Century Park Hotel, adherents were gathered to discuss another sort of emergency altogether—the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law. More important, they were there to reflect on the accomplishments achieved since the law took effect, as well as the many barriers that still stand in the way of reaching the millions of Filipino women, men and children who stand to benefit from it.

Some might think the word “emergency” is a bit of an overkill to describe the country’s reproductive health situation. But what else do you call the death of about 12 women every day due to causes related to pregnancy and childbirth? If we are not alarmed by so many deaths of women to easily preventable causes, what does that say about the value we put on the lives of women, of mothers?

And along with the deaths of the mothers, we must also reckon with the deaths of newborns or children under five, for the death of a mother often results in the death of the child born to her as well. Other deaths we can include in the toll of a poor reproductive health situation are the deaths of people living with HIV/AIDS, women dying from cancers of the breast or of the cervix (the top two cancer killers of women in the Philippines); and women dying, or whose health are compromised, due to sexually-related violence at home and in the streets.

That these don’t count as “emergencies” speaks as much about popular attitudes toward motherhood and the status of women in our society, as it does about the health system and access of individuals, especially the poor, to life-saving medicines, drugs, devices and services.

AT THE launch of the Second Popularized Report on the Implementation of the RPRH Law, Health Secretary Janette Garin stressed that “reproductive health should not stop with the law or with talking about it. (The need for it) is felt by every woman, every family, every community.”

She guided the audience through the “difficult voyage” to the passage of the law in 2012, describing it as a “dirty, dirty game” in which she was called out—as one of its prominent champions—for “promoting dissension in Congress.” Not only that, during the midterm elections of 2013, critics, including Catholic clerics, took to branding her as an “abortionist.” And while she was attacked regularly from the pulpits during Sunday Masses, as the election approached, the attacks escalated to daily harangues not just in churches but over Church-owned or influenced radio stations.

Even as the full implementation of the law was delayed for many months by a petition filed by opponents in the Supreme Court, Garin who had by then been appointed health secretary, was determined to fast-track and systematize the implementation of the law. She formed the “National Implementation Team” (NIT) to coordinate the efforts of agencies concerned with maternal and family health, together with the Population Commission and Dr. Yoly Oliveros of the Department of Health.

Former health secretary Esperanza Cabral was appointed NIT chair, while Dr. Junice Demetrio Melgar, recruited from the NGO sector, was appointed director of the Family Health Office which is tasked to carry out NIT’s programs.

THE tandem of Garin and Cabral, said Melgar, “made possible the swift implementation of the law,” with P20 billion allotted for the programs under the 2015 budget.

Under the NIT, policies were first ironed out after a national evaluation, providing “strategic leadership” focused on Melgar, called “the most critical issues of the day.”

The areas covered by the NIT began, of course, with maternal health and mortality, then moved on to addressing issues of adolescent health, HIV/AIDS, and gender-based violence.

One strategy, Melgar noted, was to not just involve but also harness the energies of civil society groups working together with government health providers and the private health sector.

The recent Supreme Court ruling temporarily preventing the DOH from providing implants and issuing licenses for all other forms of contraception (even those with existing permits) has proven to be a hindrance but, said Melgar, “it has never stopped the team from doing what it can.”

Aside from greater funding from the DOH (despite efforts by legislators to cut the flow of money for contraceptives), the NIT also counted on funding support from PhilHealth. Altogether, the public health insurance provider made possible P97 billion in reimbursements for those accessing RH services.

CERTAINLY, challenges remain for the “new team” taking over the DOH and the reproductive health program. But it certainly helps that the secretary-to-be, Dr. Paulyn Ubial, is a longtime DOH insider who has long been involved in maternal and child health, although she is at present assistant secretary in charge of the Office of Health Regulations.

Foremost of these is the existing TRO issued by the Supreme Court against the implants and the issuance of permits for all forms of contraceptives. Not only does the order present a large challenge to the program—for what is a reproductive health program without available contraceptives?—it also has, as Garin put it, “a chilling effect” on local governments who may be leery to provide any sort of RH service for fear of running into trouble with the law.

If President-elect Rodrigo Duterte holds as much commitment to maternal and child health as he does to eradicating criminality, he should put RH among the top of his agenda while in office.

- Rina Jimenez-David

DOH readies case vs Sorsogon mayor for 'gross violation' of RH law

Jeey Y. Geronimo


Because of an executive order declaring Sorsogon City as 'pro-life,' family planning commodities have been withdrawn from the city, and services have been 'stopped by the mayor arbitrarily,' say health officials.

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is preparing a "first-of-its-kind" case against Sorsogon City Mayor Sally Lee for alleged "gross violation" of the Reproductive Health (RH) law.

The case stems from Lee's issuance of an executive order in February 2015 that declared the city as "pro-life."

"The DOH is developing a case – a first-of-its-kind case – to make the mayor accountable for gross violation of RH law," said Director Junice Melgar of the DOH Family Health Office during the launch of the second consolidated report on the implementation of the RH law.

Melgar said DOH lawyers have been consulted about the case.

"Actually, the legal office of DOH has been consulted and the legal office actually consulted with [the Solicitor General] about a particular case against Sorsogon. So we're readying that. I don't know how long the bureaucracy in the Department of Health will take, but I think even the [civil society organizations] are pushing on with a case...of violation against the RH law," she said on Wednesday, June 22.

While the executive order sounds "simple," Melgar said the de facto effect is a ban since planning commodities were withdrawn from the city, and services "were stopped by the mayor arbitrarily."

The health department sent a delegation to Sorsogon City just as the local government was hearing an ordinance that was supposed to "codify" Lee's executive order.

"Because of the intervention of this group from the national agency DOH, [Commission on Population] – [the] regional directors of both PopCom and DOH were there – I think they were prevailed upon to stop the making of the ordinance, so it never progressed," she explained.

The executive order, however, still stands.

Melgar noted that the situation in Sorsogon City is "reminiscent"ofthe DOH experience in the City of Manila – one of the areas where she served as director and co-founder of Likhaan Center for Women's Health.

"There were efforts to get people from the ground – women and their families – to testify. But like our Manila experience, the women were really scared. We know of people who were deprived of the services, but none of them were eager to come out, expose themselves, and be involved in a case," she lamented.

Since the executive order was issued, Melgar said poor women had to buy their family planning commodities because the city stopped providing for them.

For now, the regional offices of DOH and PopCom, together with non-governmental organizations, are "filling the gap" in Sorsogon City.

"The [Commission on Human Rights] went there...this year, and they sort of affirmed that there's a problem. But Mayor Sally Lee got reelected again. We were hoping she would not," Melgar said.

In March, the CHR launched a national inquiry into RH law violations in the country.

PopCom executive director Juan Antonio Perez III, meanwhile, urged the Department of the Interior and Local Government to enforce its December 2015 memorandum circular, which stressed that local government units (LGUs) may enact enabling ordinances, issuances, and policies that support and institutionalize the implementation of the RH law.

"Specifically, the circular says LGUs should not issue, make any legislation that is contrary to the law," Perez noted.

He said the delivery of RH services on the ground will not be sustainable without the support of LGUs.

"I think that's where DOH, PopCom, [and] civil society should continue to be watchful, and to see how the legislative process continues under Sally Lee. We will be ready to take action when necessary," he added.

The controversial RH law was enacted in 2012 but it wasonly declared constitutional by the Supreme Court in 2014. It was not fully implemented until November 2015–

Use of modern family planning methods in PH rose in 2015 – report


MANILA, Philippines – Despite a Supreme Court (SC) temporary restraining order (TRO) that affected the implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) law, the use of modern family planning methods in the country still increased in 2015, according to a recent report from the health department.

Released on Wednesday, June 22, the second consolidated report on the implementation of the RH law revealed the use of modern family planning methods in the country was at 43.8% in 2015 – an increase from 41.14% in 2014.

It has been steadily increasing over the years, from 33.4% in 2003, 34% in 2008, and 37.6% in 2013.

Unfortunately, the growth in national modern contraceptive prevalence rate (mCPR) was not able to catch up with the increase in eligible population, since the eligible population of women in reproductive age grew by 1.9% every year, while mCPR only increased by 1.78%.

As of 2013, the unmet need for modern family planning methods is still very high at 18%. Of this number, 7% want to space births, and 11% want to stop giving birth.

The report noted that women without any formal education have the highest levels of unmet need (24%), while women with higher levels of education have the lowest unmet need (16%).

"Almost 5.5 million women are using modern family planning methods," the report read. Below is a breakdown of the number of current users of short acting, long acting, and permanent methods:


Short acting Long acting Permanent

Pills - 1,952,190
DMPA injectables - 817,750
Condoms - 251,593

IUDs - 400,071
Implants - 100,869

BTL - 718,553
NSV - 12,863


Former health secretary Esperanza Cabral, who chairs the National Implementation Team of the RH law, said 2015 was the year many of the policies aligned with the RH law were put in place. These policies, she said, will "make it easier and more effective for the law to be implemented."

"Secretary [Janette] Garin provided a lot of resources for service delivery, although we're still in the infant stage of the engagement of civil society organizations [CSOs] with the Department of Health in the delivery of family planning services, as well as adolescent youth and reproductive health services," Cabral said on Wednesday, during the launch of the report.

The biggest challenge in improving access to family planning methods is the TRO on the health department's distribution and sale of implants, a contraceptive that can prevent pregnancies for up to 3 years.

The SC also prohibited the Food and Drug Administration from "granting any and all pending application for reproductive products and supplies, including contraceptive drugs and devices."

Wednesday's report said this TRO poses "a serious threat to the availability of modern contraceptives in the local market – both public and private."

It recommended the mobilization of other sectors to lobby for the lifting of the TRO. In the meantime, the report said the capacities of CSOs and private providers to provide RH services – including implants – should be maximized.

In 2015, a total of P40.70 billion was allocated for the implementation of the RH law:


  • Department of Health - P21.74 billion
  • Commission on Population (PopCom) - P240 million (demand generation activities)
  • PhilHealth - P12.80 billion (reimbursement of benefit payments)
  • Development partners - P5.92 billion
  • CSOs - P238 million


Aside from updates on modern family planning methods, there were 4 other key areas in the accomplishment report:

Maternal, neonatal, child health and nutrition

According to the report, out of the estimated 1.5 million live births in 2015, an estimated 1.2 million (77%) live births were covered by Department of Health (DOH) facilities. These are facility-based deliveries, and not home deliveries.

The Philippines in 2015 did not meet its Millennium Development Goal to reduce maternal mortality in the country. Wednesday's report noted that maternal mortality ratio that year "has not substantially declined and remains at almost similar levels" as the 1993 National Demographic and Health Survey (209 per 100,000 live births) and the 2011 Family Health Survey (221 per 100,000 live births).

On child health and nutrition, meanwhile, the report cited the 2015 Food and Nutrition Research Institute Survey which revealed that the prevalence for both underweight and stunting among under-five children has increased from 2013 to 2015:

  • underweight - 20% in 2013 to 21.5% in 2015
  • stunting - 30.3% in 2013 to 33.4% in 2015


Adolescent sexuality and reproductive health

The PopCom has engaged 18,140 adolescents through its U4U educational caravan, which raises awareness on adolescent health and youth development concerns. (READ: Young, tech-savvy Filipinos more sexually active than you think)

Over 25 hospitals nationwide also provided adolescent sexuality and reproductive health services through the Program for Young Parents. In 2015, the program provided counseling services to 134,000 young people.

The health department's human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination campaign, meanwhile, vaccinated 272,955 girls aged 9 to 10 with their first dose of HPV immunization, which will protect them from cervical cancer – the second most common type of cancer among women.


Sexually-transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS

The health department allotted P324 million from its budget for the prevention, treatment, and management of sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS in the country.

Anti-retroviral drugs worth P220 million were procured in 2015 and will be delivered in 2016 to benefit more than 15,000 people living with HIV who need antiretroviral therapy.

To date, a total of 13,908 people living with HIV are on antiretroviral therapy. The health department said that as of April 2016, the cumulative number of HIV cases since 1984 is already at 33,419.


Gender-based violence

"Eliminating violence against women [VAW] and children and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence is a critical component of the [RH] law, both as a human rights and public health issue," the report read.

The report said that as of December 2015, 36,577 or 87% of the 42,029 barangays in the country have already established VAW desks. This is beyond the 83% target for 2016.

A total of 3,256 new VAW desks were established in 2015.



Press Release
On the launch of the RPRH Law Second Consolidated Report
June 22, 2016


 RPRH Main


Despite being a devoted Catholic country, the Department of Health (DOH) executed the first “full” implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law through its arms, the National Implementation Team (NIT), with the Commission on Population (POPCOM) as Secretariat.

“Because now is the time for us to shift away from advocacy and focus on service delivery. The NIT and Regional Implementation Team (RIT) in partnership with the civil society actually enhanced the implementation especially at the grassroots level because you just don’t only depend on government. We now include NGO (national government organization), civil society, and private providers. It’s actually helping each other to deliver for our people,” Health Secretary Janette Garin said in an interview. (Translated from a mix of Filipino and English)

Guided by the mandate stated in Section 21 of R.A. 10354 (Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012) and Rule 15 of its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), the DOH complied with the requirement to report the accomplishments of RPRH.

The implementation of the RPRH Law began in 2014 but it was this year that marks the full implementation since the law was declared mainly constitutional by the Supreme Court in April 2014.

DOH to restore P1-B budget for contraceptives

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health will work for the restoration of the P1-billion budget for contraceptives slashed by Congress from the 2016 budget of DOH, incoming health secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial told The STAR yesterday.

Ubial said the DOH would file a proposed budget with Congress after the State of the Nation Address to get back the allocation for contraceptives.

“This has been discussed during the last Cabinet meeting and that will become a Duterte budget. We will include the priorities of president-elect Rodrigo Duterte,” she added.

But Ubial could not yet ascertain how much budget the DOH would ask from Congress.

“I have to find out what have been implemented, what (contraceptives) were procured and what we still need to procure to close the gap,” she added.

Under the reproductive health program, the DOH is mandated to provide condoms, pills, intra-uterine device, post partum IUD and breastfeeding pills.

The removal of the P1-billion budget came at a time when the country’s population rose to more than 100 million. 

The unmet need of Filipino women for contraceptives is 6.7 percent and this is equivalent to seven million women needing contraceptives.

The budget cut was also implemented when the country is gripped by soaring HIV/AIDS cases, primarily due to homosexual activities.

The DOH has documented a total of 32,647 HIV/AIDS cases from 1984 to March 2016. In 2008, only one case was being recorded every day, but it increased to four in 2010, nine in 2012, 17 in 2014 and 22 in 2015.

Pending the restoration of the budget, Ubial said the DOH would be refocusing its reproductive health programs on “poor married women of reproductive age.”


- Sheila Crisostomo

Pregnancy support services sought


MANILA, Philippines – Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas III has expressed alarm over the country’s increasing maternal mortality rate in recent years despite its commitment to meet health, women empowerment, and child nutrition targets under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

Citing the 5th Philippine Progress Report on the MDGs, Vargas said the country “may not have met its MDG target on maternal health as the maternal mortality ratio increased from 209 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 221 in 2011 – failing to meet the 2015 target of 52.”

“It is disturbing to note that maternal health, as part of the country’s MDGs, is not so encouraging,” Vargas said.

The lawmaker said he would push for approval of the measure in the 17th Congress for the establishment of an Office of Pregnancy Support Services (OPSS) under the Department of Health.

The proposed OPSS, he said, would be tasked to encourage and assist pregnant women to carry their children to live birth by providing services during and after pregnancy.

“Our initiative seeks to alleviate pregnant women and their families from the difficulties that may otherwise lead to abortion or death of a child during childbirth,” Vargas said.

Pregnancy support services refer to services offered by the government, faith-based, and other providers, during and after pregnancy (material assistance such as maternity and baby clothing, diapers, baby food and baby furniture); referrals for adoption, job training, housing, assistance with domestic violence, and food stamps and other assistance;

Crisis hotlines, including for violence or suicide prevention; pro-bono obstetric and prenatal care services for women intending to carry their children to live birth (including services during pregnancy and following childbirth, and neonatal services); pro-bono legal services to assist women who wish to carry their children to live birth and parents with newborn children; and child care services; services to assist parents to care for, and prepare to care for, a child with Down Syndrome or another prenatally diagnosed condition, and to facilitate the adoption of such children as appropriate.


- Paolo Romero

Dalandanan kids complete nutrition program


Seventy children have completed a nutrition program in Barangay Dalandanan, Valenzuela City under a project initiated by food company CDO Foodsphere Inc. in partnership with Friends of Win Organization.

This has brought to 17,689 children the total beneficiaries of Gabay Nutrisyon, a 90-day supplemental feeding program undertaken by Odyssey Foundation, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm of CDO Foodsphere since 2005 with the support of United Laboratories and other partners.

Malnutrition is one of the leading causes of death among children under five years old. Three million children die each year globally because of malnutrition, according to studies.

The Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) reported that 33 percent of Filipino children less than five years of age face chronic malnutrition. FNRI encourages early intervention to prevent the growing number of undernourished children.

In response to the call of mitigating hunger among Filipino children, CDO Foodsphere through Odyssey Foundation formed Gabay Nutrisyon, a community-based supplemental feeding program which started in June 2005.

“Urgent interventions are needed to reverse the health condition of those Filipino children. And a directly administered and closely monitored feeding program such as what we do in ‘Gabay Nutrisyon’ brings the needed results,” said Jerome Ong, President of CDO Foodsphere and Odyssey Foundation.

Gabay Nutrisyon provides nutritious heavy meals and vitamins for 90 days to malnourished and severely underweight children to restore their health.    It started in Barangay Paso de Blas where CDO Foodsphere’s plant is located. It was then a 64-day feeding catering to 150 children.

Through the help of community volunteers and partners, the kids were served heavy snacks and vitamin supplements. Nutritious meals were prepared by CDO canteen personnel and delivered to the community by OFI staff.  Monthly weighing of the children beneficiaries was conducted to measure the impact of the program.

Aside from food-related problems such as hunger and malnutrition, Gabay Nutrisyon also looks into the health profile of the family of the participants as well as the social aspect of the malnutrition problem.

Being home to CDO Foodsphere, most of the feeding programs were conducted in Valenzuela City with the strong support of then Mayor and now Senator-elect Sherwin T. Gatchalian.  OFI has already implemented 25 batches of Gabay Nutrisyon.

The most recent one was held in Barangay Dalandanan in Valenzuela City in partnership with Friends of Win organization.


-Malaya Business Insight


Study: Most antidepressants don’t work for young patients

LONDON — Scientists say most antidepressants don’t work for children or teenagers with major depression, some may be unsafe, and the quality of evidence about these drugs is so bad the researchers cannot be sure if any are truly effective or safe.

In the biggest analysis yet conducted of previously published studies, researchers studied 14 antidepressants and found only one drug that seemed to be useful.

“We now have a hierarchy of pharmaceutical treatments and the only one that is better than placebo and other drugs is Prozac,” said Dr. Andrea Cipriani of the University of Oxford, one of the study authors. He said psychological treatment such as behavioral therapy should be tried before prescribing drugs, echoing the recommendations of some current guidelines.

Cipriani and colleagues analyzed 34 drug trials that included more than 5,000 patients. Of those, 22 studies were paid for by pharmaceutical companies.

The scientists called the quality of the evidence in the research they studied “very low” — so low that they said their findings weren’t enough to change how patients are treated. The authors cautioned that their results were based on flawed trials and that they couldn’t figure out whether or not the drugs were truly effective or gauge the impact of serious side effects.


READ: Can gene therapy cure depression?

Still, the review was enough to call into question the vast majority of medications used to treat young people with depression.

“There is little reason to think that any antidepressant is better than nothing for young people,” wrote Jon Jureidini of the University of Adelaide in Australia in an accompanying commentary.

Among findings on individual drugs, the researchers found that Sensoval was less effective than seven other antidepressants and a placebo and that Tofranil, Effexor and Cymbalta led to the worst side effects. When compared to five other drugs and a placebo, Effexor was linked to a risk of increased suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts.

The new study was published online Wednesday in the journal Lancet .

Even with all of the limitations the authors highlight in the study, Cipriani said doctors shouldn’t shy away from prescribing antidepressants if children need them.

“We have an effective tool,” he said of Prozac. “There is also a risk of not prescribing drugs to patients who really need them,” he said.

Major depression affects about 3 percent of children aged six to 12 years and about 6 percent of teenagers aged 13 to 18. Doctors have sometimes been wary of prescribing antidepressants for young patients because some medications can be harmful to their developing brains.

-Associated Press (Philippine Daily Inquirer

EDITORIAL - Epicenter of child slavery

With a new administration coming in, police have started taking children off the streets and enforcing curfew on minors all over the country including Metro Manila. Many of the children are sent into the streets by their parents to beg or sell items such as flower garlands. The police campaign is laudable but it must be sustained instead of being a mere flash in the pan to impress a new chief executive.

A bigger problem, involving the heinous abuse of children, however, is perpetrated behind closed doors. The top official of the United Nations Children’s Fund in the Philippines has described the country as the “epicenter” of the global live-stream child sex abuse trade and the world’s top source of child pornography. UNICEF Philippines’ Lotta Sylwander said parents themselves were often the ones who peddled their children for live sex shows to pedophiles worldwide.

The illicit trade is reportedly facilitated by Filipinos’ proficiency in English, the prevalence of Internet use and an existing network developed for Filipino migrant workers that allows the easy remittance of funds from around the world.

Many of the children are forced to perform several times a day, for about an hour at a time, in front of a webcam, according to UNICEF, which also expressed concern about the prevalence of child sex abuse perpetrated by family members themselves. Of some 7,000 cybercrimes reported every month in the country, about half involved child sex abuse, UNICEF added.

The country has tough laws against domestic violence and sexual abuse of children. As with many other laws, however, implementation leaves much to be desired, and enforcement is weakest when the victims are from poor households.

The cybercrime law continues to evolve, and there must be enough Filipino experts in information and communication technology to help law enforcers go after purveyors of online child porn. But authorities need more resources and strong political will to do their work.

“There are no limits to how cruel and gross this business is,” Sylwander said in an interview in which she described the abuse as tantamount to child slavery.Authorities must waste no time in stopping this evil industry.


-Philippine Star

DOH chief, PhilHealth head invited to Senate probe

By Marvin Sy

MANILA, Philippines - Health Secretary Janette Garin and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) president Alexander Padilla have been invited to attend tomorrow’s Senate Blue Ribbon committee probe into the P2 billion in alleged spurious claims made by hospitals and clinics.

The probe was initiated by the chairman of the Blue Ribbon committee, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, who filed a resolution for this purpose in response to reports coming from PhilHealth itself about the proliferation of suspicious claims being made by some healthcare facilities around the country.

Guingona said it was disturbing for him to hear about the claims that some accredited hospitals and clinics would seek out large volume of PhilHealth members to operate on, even if the treatment is unnecessary.

He cited the existence of this so-called “hakot” mechanism being employed by these facilities, which could very well pose a danger to the patients involved since they are being made to undergo procedures not required.

There were also reports of some facilities filing claims with PhilHealth for procedures and treatments never performed.

“If found true, this is a matter of national concern. It is criminal to misappropriate funds that are actually needed by other patients. But to endanger the lives of Filipinos as a means to eat through PhilHealth’s funds is beyond deplorable,” Guingona said.“We are therefore conducting an inquiry on this matter to ensure that PhilHealth, as the country’s premier health insurance provider, would have adequate policing mechanisms that will promote transparency and accountability among health care providers,” he added.

PhilHealth officials earlier raised red flags on some benefit payments to accredited hospitals and clinics around the country amounting to P2 billion, including some P325 million worth of “highly suspicious” benefit payments to two eye care centers in Metro Manila.

The Department of Health (DOH) initiated an investigation after an audit of the year 2014 showed that a suspiciously large sum was paid by PhilHealth for cataract procedures.

Garin and Padilla earlier disclosed that an investigation is being conducted on a number of eye centers in the wake of the questionable claims.

They bared that one eye center alone had filed claims of close to P170 million last year, a 143 percent increase on what the clinic charged PhilHealth the previous year.

The health officials said PhilHealth has ordered that the processing of the questionable claims be stopped pending investigation.

“We must get to the bottom of these right away to ensure that the funds of PhilHealth are protected from unscrupulous parties,” Guingona said.

He said he was angered by what appears to be “an orchestrated and systematic effort to take advantage of PhilHealth.”

“If the allegations are true, then greed would have taken over a good program. At the end of the day, PhilHealth funds are the people’s money. This is because part of its funds come from members’ contributions and from government,” he said.

He added that he was also concerned that private sector hospitals and clinics are being implicated in the alleged scam.

“This puts in peril the partnership of the government and the private sector in the bid to provide quality healthcare to our countrymen,” Guingona said.

Also invited to tomorrow’s hearing are Minguita Padilla, head executive staff of the secretary (DOH) and president of Philippine Eye Bank; Harvey Uy, president of the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology; David Harold Gosiengfiao, owner of Pacific Eye Institute; Raymond Evangelista, owner of Quezon City Eye Center; Maria Minerva Calimag, president of the Philippine Medical Association; Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) chairman Florentino Doble; Miguel Noche Jr., chairman of the Board of Medicine of the PRC; and DOH assistant secretary Nicolas Lutero III, who heads the health facilities and services regulatory bureau.

What to do if you have an enlarged prostate

If you are a man and have been having more and more difficulty in urinating lately, there is a good chance that the problem may be due to an enlarged prostate gland  a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).  It is a common problem many men face as they age.  Treatments are highly variable and depend on your particular symptoms, the size of the prostate, overall health, and your preference.

Some men find that lifestyle changes, along with medications, can provide effective relief.  Others may be helped by minimally invasive procedures or the long-term solution of surgical removal of the obstructing portion of the prostate gland.

As men age

The prostate gland produces most of the fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.  It’s located just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra, through which urine passes out of the body. After puberty, the prostate is about the size of a walnut.  As men age, the gland gradually increases in size (see illustration).

What causes this noncancerous (benign) prostate growth — which typically occurs in the gland’s central area — is uncertain.  Some believe it may be related to changes in the balance of sex hormones associated with aging.  Your risk of developing an enlarged prostate may be greater if your father or brother had similar problems, too. Symptoms of benign prostate growth generally don’t occur until later in life.  Overall, more than half of men in their 60s encounter symptoms related to prostate enlargement and most men in their 70s and 80s have symptoms as a result of it.

As the prostate gland’s central area enlarges, it can press in on the urethra, slowing and interfering with urine flow out of the body. Prostate size doesn’t necessarily predict symptoms’ occurrence.  Symptoms have more to do with how much prostate tissue has enlarged in the center area of the gland, where it creates resistance or obstructs urine flow.  That’s why some men with slightly enlarged prostates experience significant symptoms while others with very enlarged prostates encounter only minor urinary symptoms.  Some men’s symptoms may stabilize and even improve.

Signs and symptoms of prostate gland enlargement may include a weak urine stream, difficulty starting urination, stopping and starting while urinating, needing to urinate urgently, or straining to urinate.  You may urinate more often or find you’re getting up frequently during the night to go to the bathroom.  Over time, severe problems may develop, possibly including urinary tract infections, bladder stones, or — most seriously — obstruction of the kidneys and impaired kidney function.

Some men aren’t aware that they have prostate enlargement because they don’t experience symptoms or they view these symptoms as a normal part of aging.  However, these same men may suddenly find it’s impossible to urinate (acute urinary retention).  This may be triggered after taking a cold or allergy medication that has a decongestant or antihistamine in it.  These drugs can tighten muscles that control urine flow and generally should be avoided if you have an enlarged prostate.


Treatments for BPH attempt to reduce troubling symptoms and restore normal function of your urinary tract.  For men who have a mildly enlarged prostate and no symptoms or very mild ones, treatment may not be immediately necessary.  Studies have found that as many as one-third of all mild cases clear up on their own without early treatment.

Medications are commonly used to treat and relieve mild and moderate symptoms due to enlarged prostate.  Drug therapies include:

• Alphablockers. These begin to work quickly by relaxing bladder neck muscles and muscle fibers in the prostate.  These drugs include terazosin, doxazosin, tamsulosin, alfuzosin, and silodosin.  They increase urinary flow and reduce the need to urinate as often.  Side effects may include lightheadedness when standing up too quickly (orthostatic hypotension), but this generally improves over time and may be avoided by taking the medication before bedtime.  While taking an alphablocker, you may experience a harmless condition called retrograde ejaculation — semen flows backward into the bladder rather than forward through the penis.

• Enzyme (5-alpha-reductase) inhibitors. These medications shrink prostate tissue by preventing hormonal changes related to prostate growth and generally work best for very enlarged prostates.  They include finasteride and dutasteride.  It may take months to notice optimal improvement.  In a small percentage of men, side effects may include impotence (erectile dysfunction), decreased sexual desire or retrograde ejaculation.  Talk with your doctor in more detail about risks and benefits to decide what’s best for you.

• Combined drug therapy. When an alphablocker or enzyme inhibitor alone isn’t enough, your doctor may recommend taking one of each at the same time or the combined medication tamsulosin anddutasteride.  Combination therapy can significantly reduce symptoms’ progression better than taking either drug alone. 

• Tadalafil (Cialis). This medication for erectile dysfunction was more recently approved for the treatment of symptoms of prostate enlargement.  However, it should not be taken in combination with alphablockers.


If medication isn’t effective, if you have moderate to severe symptoms or your prostate is growing into the bladder, your doctor may recommend surgical treatment.  Some men prefer surgical treatment as a long-term solution instead of taking medication.  The main surgeries remove prostate tissue that otherwise blocks urine flow. The result is lasting relief from symptoms. But there may be side effects, which can vary depending on the procedure.  These may include retrograde ejaculation, loss of bladder control (incontinence), and impotence.  Talk with your doctor about specific risks in the context of your overall health with each treatment you are considering. 

Established surgical procedures to manage enlarged prostates include:

• Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). Your surgeon places a lighted scope into your urethra and uses specialized tools to open the channel through the prostate to relieve the obstruction.  TURP relieves symptoms quickly, and most men experience stronger urine flow soon after the procedure. A short hospital stay is often needed, and you can expect to have a urinary catheter for a few days.  Bleeding may be a risk, and you may have some blood in your urine until the prostate lining has healed over. Re-treatment is sometimes necessary in five to seven years.

If surgery is considered too risky and you have a small prostate but moderate-to-severe symptoms, an alternative to TURP is transurethral incision of the prostate (TUIP).  TUIP is a shorter procedure done in a similar fashion to TURP, but instead of removing prostate tissue, one or two small cuts are made in the prostate gland to open a wider channel at the bladder beck to improve urine flow rate.

• Open prostate removal (simple prostatectomy). This surgery is done in instances where the prostate gland is very large.  An incision is made in the lower abdomen — or small openings are made for laparascopic or robotic-assisted surgery — to reach the prostate and remove the interior portion of the gland.  A hospital stay of several days is likely, and a urinary catheter may be in place for as long as seven to 14 days.

Newer modern procedures

Minimally invasive therapies use various forms of heat or energy to shrink or remove excess prostate tissue around the urethra to enlarge the opening from the bladder. Blood loss is less likely during these procedures.  In some modern medical centers abroad, these are usually done on an outpatient basis using lasers.

Various types of lasers are used in different ways to destroy or remove overgrown prostate tissue.  Generally, the laser device is inserted through a narrow scope and into the urethra where it can be directed at prostate tissue.  Symptoms’ relief generally occurs right away, and the risk of side effects is lower than when TURP is done.  So far, there are only a few modern hospitals abroad which have lasers to perform this type of surgery or surgeons who have the specialized training.  But it certainly is part of a new wave of modern therapy for prostate problems that in the future, hopefully, will make the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia in older men, more precise and effective, and with less complications.


Australia funds training for tech-voc in ARMM


SIMUNUL, Tawi-Tawi—In partnership with the government’s Department of Education (DepEd), Basic Education Assistance for Muslim Mindanao (BEAM) has supported 22 technical-vocational institutions throughout the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) since 2013.

“We piloted under the DepEd. The idea is that before the student drops out, he can acquire a skill,” said Peter Bellen Jr., manager of the BEAM technical-vocational education and training component.

He said the selection of skills to be taught was guided by results of the so-called labor market assessment done in 2013 that identified which skills were the most in demand.

He said the ARMM’s “absorptive capacity” in terms of jobs was dismal. Only three of 100 job seekers could find a job.

We see the prevailing poor economic condition and lack of employable skills among the youth as reasons only a few get jobs in the ARMM,” Bellen said. Security concerns in the region were also a contributing factor, he added.

The BEAM official said they were looking into “leveling up” the program in the next two years, tapping the private sector in the process.

“We would help the Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) so it can develop training standards,” Bellen said.

He added that his organization would also push for private sector development, “contributing to existing small-time entrepreneurs who have the potential to grow and expand.”

“Once these entrepreneurs expand, they can hire more people,” he said.

For the beneficiaries, it was not only about acquiring new skills. Most importantly, it was a tool for empowering them.

“We now see our real worth. We used to think that we were dumb (bobo),” Jaison Sahid, the 18-year-old, said in Filipino



Counseling key to stemming rise in HIV cases, say disease experts

More comprehensive counseling before and after testing for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may help stem the fast rising incidence of the disease in the country and encourage more patients to avail themselves of the free antiretroviral (ARV) drugs given out by the government, according to infectious disease experts.

In a health forum on Tuesday, Dr. Desse Roman, an infectious disease specialist at Manila Doctors Hospital, said persons with HIV who did not receive proper pre- and post-test counseling were usually the ones who avoided seeing their doctors for follow-ups.

“Without proper counseling, they don’t know what kind of support is available to them and they are usually ill-advised so they opt not to consult with physicians until they are showing the late stages of the disease,” Roman said.

Under the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998 (Republic Act No. 8504), a patient cannot be screened for HIV without undergoing counseling.

Staying negative

The law also mandates that post-test advice be given to patients on how to keep their status negative or how to access treatment and where to get support in case of a positive test result.

Not all of those screened for the virus, however, were receiving the right kind of counseling, Roman told reporters.

Dr. Mary Ann Aguadera, a psychiatrist, said at the forum that a good pre-test counseling would help address the concerns and fears of patients and embolden them to push through with a screening for the virus.

Good-quality counseling would also translate knowledge about the disease into behavioral change among patients to prevent the spread of HIV, she said.

“What is currently happening is that with all the information that is available, people use HIV testing as a scare tactic. We never present HIV testing and counseling in a very positive way and so many are discouraged from undergoing screening,” said Aguadera.

“But if you are able to give a good pre-test counseling, patients will easily understand the disease and they will be given treatment early before the virus overwhelms the body,” she said.

HIV could eventually lead to AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, a condition in which the body’s immune system is attacked and damaged by the virus, ultimately leading to death.

Why men should undergo prostate screening

MANILA – The Philippine Urological Association is having a nationwide free prostate screening for men on Saturday, June 20, as part of the celebration of the prostate cancer awareness month.

Speaking on radio dzMM, urologist Dr. Sam Yrastorza said this event is held every year a day before Father’s Day.

Yrastorza invited all men aged 40 and above—whether or not they have symptoms of prostate cancer—to have themselves checked.

“Kasi dito sa Pilipinas yung awareness natin sa prostate cancer talaga is very,very low pa,” he said.

“‘Yung prostate cancer, usually, walang sintomas sa simula,” the urologist explained. “So pagdating doon ng pasyente tinatanong namin kung may problema sa pag-ihi, may probelam ba sa ibang parte ng katawan nila na daluyan ng ihi.”

The patient also undergoes a digital rectal examination. Digital, in this case, refers to the use of the digits or fingers to check the prostate.

Yrastorza said this is still the most effective way to check the prostate, as this is more sensitive than the CT scan, MRI or ultrasound.

“In fact sa States and atsaka sa Europe, iyan ang ginagamit pa rin,” he said.

The nationwide free screening runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Some of the participating hospitals in Metro Manila are the Philippine Gneral Hospital, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, and V. Luna Medical Center.

Hospitals in Cebu and Davao will be participating as well.

For more information and a complete listing of participating hospitals, reach the Philippine Urological Association at 09175291957/09989710079, or like the Prostate Cancer Awareness Month page on Facebook.

Palafox on urban planning

elino Palafox Jr. is one of a handful of present-day Filipino architects whose work I admire and follow. The founder of the firm bearing his name, Palafox designed Rockwell Center and has performed design and urban planning work on engagements with Middle Eastern and other foreign real-estate developers.

I like, and take note of, Palafox’s views on urban planning and metropolitan structuring. If there’s anyone in today’s Philippine architectural profession who deserves the title environmental architect, it is Felino Palafox Jr.

Palafox recently made a presentation before a real estate group titled “Philippines @ 500, Manila Megalopolis 2021 and Beyond: A Vision Plan Toward Safe, Smarter, Sustainable Cities of the Future.” The figure 500 relates to the forthcoming 500th anniversary of the founding of Manila, in 2021, by the Spanish colonizers.

Palafox began his paper by categorizing the world’s cities as green, liveable, smart, sustainable and resilient. The world’s top ten cities possessed these qualities. Metro Manila, which is composed of Manila, 15 other cities and one municipality, is not among the top ten cities, according to Palafox.

Metro Manila may even be among the world’s worst ten cities, Palafox quipped. He then proceeded to explain why this was so and how things could be turned around in the days ahead.

For starters, Metro Manila’s component localities are surrounded by gated communities and there is little affordable housing for employees. Gated communities should be in the suburbs. He told his audience: “If you have practical, pragmatic thinking like the progressive cities of the world, go to the suburbs [and] if you are in the middle of a city, make it a multi-family unit.”

Palafox said that future urbanism should be of the vertical kind. Building tall infrastructure was more sustainable because tourism, garbage collection and mixed-use residency for shopping and dining would revolve around one point only. “With the urban sprawl that we have, there will be [far more] kilometers of roads, sewerage, drainage and electricity, among other things,” he said.

Palafox cited his firm’s design for Makati City’s Rockwell Center. “If you live in Rockwell, everything is within four hundred meters away.” Metro Manilans did not like to walk, he said.

The environmental architect said that he has been pushing DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) in the direction of green urbanism. With green urbanism, the allotment of roads would be one-third for pedestrians and bicycles, one-third for trees and landscaping and one-third for vehicles. “Those who have less in wheels should have more in roads,” Palafox said, paraphrasing the late president Ramon Magsaysay.

“Look at EDSA,” Palafox said. “Nothing for people, nothing for landscaping.” EDSA has 300,000 vehicles a day, [so] we should have three million trees along EDSA to recover the carbon monoxide of each car.”

As for the skyways that are being installed in Metro Manila, Palafox said that when he asked an urbanist friend what he thought of the new installations, his friend gave this answer: “It’s like cheating on your diet by just loosening your belt.”

The man behind Rockwell Center concluded his presentation by saying that the best cities in the world that he had visited had a common formula for success. The formula was “(v)isionary leadership, strong political will, good urban planning, design and architecture and good governance.”

A tall order, but one that the government of this country must seek to heed if the mistakes of Metro Manila’s past development are to be avoided as the Manila heads toward its 500th anniversary and the years beyond.

By Rudy Romero

Farmers getting older, study shows

MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija: A study conducted by the Philippine Center for Post-harvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) showed that most of the country’s farmers are getting older and warned of an eventual shortage of farm workers.

But efforts are afoot and are focused on getting the youth sector’s involvement in agri-business through equipment modernization and developing agribusiness.

In collaboration with the University of the Philippines Los Baños-Agricultural Mechanization Development Program (UPLB-AMDP), PhilMech’s study in 2014 reveals that farmers are above 40 years old.

“Most rice farmers were within [the] 40-59 age bracket although a high percentage of farmers aged 60 and above was noted in Camarines Sur and Iloilo,” the study said.

The PhilMech and UPLB-AMDP study covered 13 provinces where rice is grown showing that many old farmers are no longer doing actual farm work and warned that “there would be a shortage of farm labor in the future if the agriculture sector does not get new young farmers.”

Last year, two studies, one done by PhilMech and UPLB-AMDP and another by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) entitled, “Benchmarking Philippine Rice Economy Relative to Major Rice-Producing Countries in Asia” also showed that Filipino rice farmers are among the oldest in Asia.

For the 2014 study, PhilMech is optimistic that more young people will be more interested in agriculture as more post-harvest and mechanization technologies are now available.

Rex Bingabing, PhilMech Executive Director, said the agency has developed new technologies for the country’s agriculture sector.

For example, he said, there are technologies for rice mechanization that would ease the drudgery that goes with rice farming by developing a tractor-mounted rice transplanter and mini-combine harvester.

He said PhilMech has also produced other technologies in which the youth can be involved as entrepreneurs in agriculture such as the coco water extraction-pasteurization system that can transform mature coconut water into refreshing energy drink.

He said the young farmers can also invest in cacao, cashew, soybean and coffee processing system or a multi-commodity solar tunnel dryer-based business enterprise.

“These agribusiness enterprises are good start-up for young agribusiness entrepreneurs as they require low level of investment,” Bingabing said.


Classroom funding of P31.8B to support K to 12

“In response to the country’s growing population of students, the Department of Budget and Management has released P31.8 billion to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the proposed construction or rehabilitation of 22,325 classrooms nationwide as determined by the Department of Education (DepEd) to ultimately bolster the K-12 program,” DBM said in a statement.

The amount will be charged against DepEd’s Basic Educational Facilities Fund (BEFF) in the 2014 and 2015 national budgets.

Of the total, P3.47 billion was sourced from the 2014 BEFF budget of P44.6 billion while P28.3 billion was charged against the P53.9 billion fund this year.

The funding was directly released to the DPWH which is mandated to construct the classrooms.

“Every year, we face the need to build more classrooms due to the growing number of public school students. Fortunately, we’re able to keep pace by allotting yearly increases in budgetary support for quality classrooms. With enough public funds for our education system, we can construct new school buildings or rehabilitate damaged classrooms,” Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad was quoted as saying in the statement.

“This takes time as the process of determining the number of targets is very exhaustive, with DepEd giving us a list of classrooms only after a thorough assessment. But we’re confident of achieving these requirements as the success of the Administration’s K to 12 school program depends on our efforts,” he added.

DepEd has P319 billion in total funding this year, up 13.5% from a year earlier. -- Mikhail Franz E. Flores

4Ps beneficiaries covered by PhilHealth

MANILA, Philippines - Beneficiaries of the government’s poverty alleviation program, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), are enjoying health benefits provided by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said that its partnership with PhilHealth is covering more of the country’s poorest families.

In 2012, the DSWD and PhilHealth agreed to provide health care for the poor. 

The DSWD said there are more than 4.4 million 4Ps beneficiaries covered by PhilHealth.

The partnership has strengthened the government’s commitment to give poor families access to medical and health services, DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman said.

The 4Ps is a human development program that invests in the health and education of poor families, primarily those with children up to age 18.

It provides cash grants to beneficiaries who comply with the conditions of sending their children to school, bringing them to health centers for checkups, and attending monthly family development sessions.


DOST’s health info tablets reach MIMAROPA

A health information support system in a tablet has arrived in the islands of MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan). The project, called eHATID LGU, is funded by the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Health Research and Development with Ateneo de Manila University, which aims to support local government units with the use of an Electronic Medical Record mobile application to generates health reports.

Let us watch what students eat, suggest nutritionists

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Is everything on a student’s food tray in school healthy?


The Nutritionists-Dietitians Association of the Philippines (NDAP) has proposed the designation of nutritionists or dietitians on campuses to check on the meals and beverages served in school canteens and recommend healthy options.


“There should be an organized monitoring of food served in school canteens to make sure the dietary requirements of students are met,” said NDAP president Dr. Adela Jamorabo-Ruiz in a health forum, noting that there were no commissioned food experts in schools to approve canteen menus.


While it may not be a requirement, the Department of Education has issued a directive to all public schools to sell only nutrient-rich food and fortified food products in their canteens to make sure students receive the proper nutrition outside their homes, Ruiz said.


A 2008 study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute showed that seven percent of Filipino children aged 5 to 10 were overweight. In 2003, 5.4 percent of children were battling obesity, a risk factor for noncommunicable diseases, which include heart illness, stroke and diabetes.


The national data also showed that 29.9 percent of Filipino adults were overweight and obese in 2013.


Obesity, a risk factor for noncommunicable diseases, is linked to incessant consumption of unhealthy food and sugary drinks.


For its part, the Department of Health (DOH) has called on local government units to put in place an efficient monitoring system of ambulant vendors outside schools to make sure students are protected from unsafe and contaminated food and drinks.


“Local government units must be able to control these ambulant vendors near schools to ensure food safety among students,” said Rolando Santiago, program officer of the DOH Environmental-Related Diseases Division.


This can be done by establishing a registry of the hawkers and giving them training on proper food handling, said Santiago.

He said local governments could also designate selling areas and food storage facilities for these vendors.

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Clarifications on the 4Ps program

This is with reference to the editorial of The Standard dated June 4, 2015 entitled “A Convenient Tool” which discussed the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program commonly known as the Philippine version of the Conditional Cash Transfer.

True to the program’s name, beneficiaries receive cash grants subject to their compliance to the conditionalities on health and education as set forth in the program. These conditionalities are: school-aged children must be enrolled in schools and have at least 85 percent school attendance; children and pregrant women receive health services as mandated by the Department of Health, and parents attend the monthly Family Development Session (FDS).

Pantawid Pamilya has its own Compliance Verification System that monitors the compliance of our partner-beneficiaries to the conditionalities and is used as basis for computing the amount each household is entitled to receive during pay outs.

Non-compliance to each conditionality results in non-payment of the corresponding cash benefit: non-compliance to the educational conditionalities wil mean beneficiaries will not receive grants amounting to P300 for elementary students and P500 for high school students, while health grants (which include attendance to the FDS) amount to P500.

The program also has a Grievance Redress System (GRS). It is a mechanism where the public may file their complaints, queries and concerns on the program. Complaints may be filed through social networking sites (facebook: tanggapan ng reklamo; twitter:@4psreklamo) or our email address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Through the GRS, the program has already removed 15,452 households who were not eligible. Moreover, a total of 15,096 have already waived inclusion in the program.

The P62-billion peso program budget is huge at a glance, but its value spreads to serving 4.4 million households. To better illustrate this, a child enrolled in elementary may receive P13 per day or P22 for a child enrolled in high school. This translates to more than 10 million children who will have better chances of growing up healthy and in school.

Note also that of the total budget, around 90 percent goes to cash grants and the remaining 10 percent is only for operational costs. Moreover, only 38.68 percent of the beneficiaries are from Mindanao. The majority are from Luzon at 40 percent.

We trust that our clarification will have a space in your paper in the spirit of fair and balanced journalism.

Spokesperson Department of Social Welfare and Development

Philippines' poorest cling to wretched hospital deathbeds

By Joel Guinto

Paraplegic Venerando Acabal wriggles on a rust-eaten bed to soothe painful bed sores, in misery but also fearful that privatisation plans for the Philippines' only bone hospital will rob him of his refuge.

The state-run Philippine Orthopaedic Centre, a cramped and dizzying maze of rickety stretchers that spill out of humid wards into dingy hallways, has treated tens of thousands of patients for free since it opened in 1945.

But it is slated to close after a private firm last year won a contract to replace it with an expanded new facility, part of a multi-billion-dollar privatisation programme by President Benigno Aquino's administration.

"If they kick me out of here, I have no choice but to go home and die in my house," said 55-year-old carpenter Acabal, who has been bedridden at the hospital since breaking his back in a construction site accident four years ago.

Despite wretched appearances, the hospital is much-loved by the poor as they can turn up, have complicated operations and stay for years even if they do not have any money.

Of the nearly 7,000 patients treated last year, only two percent paid their bills in full, according to hospital records, and the facility's chief is worried the charity will be severely curbed under private management.

"It's difficult to reconcile profitability and service to the poor," hospital director Jose Brittanio Pujalte told AFP.

"Our patients here are the poorest of the poor and they have nowhere else to go."

- Profits versus poor -

The private operator, Megawide-World Citi, has a contract to run the hospital for 25 years from mid-2016 before having to hand it back to the government.

It did not return requests from AFP seeking comment about how it would balance its need to make a return on its investment with the needs of the poor.

When asked about the issue, the head of the Philippines' privatisation office, Cosette Canilao, said the new operators were contractually obliged to only charge full rates to 10 percent of patients.

However she could not provide details on whether the remaining 90 percent would still be required to make some payments.

Canilao emphasised that privatisation was necessary to help upgrade the Philippines' woefully underfunded health system.

"There is an urgent need for us to improve the health services for the public and one way of doing that is to take private partners," said Canilao, executive director of the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) Centre.

The developing nation of 100 million people spends half the global average on health as a percentage of gross domestic product, according to the World Health Organization.

The country's largest mental institution and a major hospital that serves provinces regularly hit by typhoons are also set to be privatised.

- Miserable refuge -

The hospital is undeniably in need of extra funds.

Acabal, the carpenter, shares a squalid ward with no airconditioning with seven other men, all bare-chested to ease the discomfort from the summer heat.

"I'm in pain all day from bed sores on my back. I go to sleep, wake up, and that wall is all I see," he said, gasping for air, and with a faint whistle from an exposed breathing tube protruding from his throat.

A far corner of the hallway has been transformed into a ward with rusty stretchers. On an adjacent ward, a boy with a metal brace on his leg wails in pain.

A bunch of rosaries and dried flower garlands hang from a life-sized statue of Jesus Christ, which serves as a prayer sanctuary.

Relatives watch over their loved ones, sprawled on the grimy concrete floor half-covered with chipped vinyl tiles. Some spend the night on cardboard laid out on the pavement outside the hospital building.

At the emergency room entrance, there is a chaotic but steady stream of patients arriving in wheelchairs and ambulances.

Still, 40-year-old former security guard Randy Gonzaga, who is paralysed from the waist down due to a tumour on his spine, does not want to be anywhere else.

The father of five-year-old twin girls survived Super Typhoon Haiyan in his home province of Leyte in 2013 but discovered he had a tumour on his spine that same year.

Gonzaga is selling purses made by his wife from his hospital bed to raise 60,000 pesos ($1,300) for a titanium implant that is required before surgery to remove the tumour.

The hospital can not afford the implant but it can provide the surgery, which could cost up to 200,000 pesos, for free.

"I hope to have my tumour removed before the new owners come in. Otherwise, I have nowhere else to go," he said.

Pantawid Pamilya grantee welcomes complements to cultural practices

From the Department of Social Welfare and Employment

A thankful grantee of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program speaks about the how the program has helped her family.

Leonida, with her two kids, is thankful for the help and attention her family is getting from the government.

Leonida, with her two kids, is thankful for the help and attention her family is getting from the government.

Leonida Bartolome of Barangay Balabag, Boracay, Malay, Aklan, said that her family’s way of life is now better since they became beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya.

“Pasalamat ako dahil napapansin mga tawo tulad naming mga Ati [1]. Kami nakasulod sa Pantawid Pamilya (I am thankful that Ati [1], like us, are also given attention. We are beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya),” said Leonida.

Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is a human development program that invests in the health and education of poor families, primarily those with children aged 0-18. It provides cash grants to partner-beneficiaries who comply with the conditions of sending their children to school, bringing them to health centers for checkups, and attending the monthly Family Development Sessions (FDS).

Leonida’s three younger children are covered by Pantawid Pamilya and are receiving monthly cash grants for their education and health needs.

Leonida shared that with the cash grants, she need not worry about the school requirements of her children.  She and Joel can now focus on putting food on the table.

“Bahul bahul bulig sa amon. Kon wala obra ang akon asawa, wala gid makitaan kwarta. Ngayon may pambili na ng bag, notebook, attsinelas (The program has helped us so much. When my husband had no work, we really had no money.  Now, we have money to buy bags, notebooks, and slippers for the children),” she said.

Beyond cash grants

While the cash grants have helped Leonida meet the daily school needs of her children, the lessons she learned from FDS have changed her perspectives in managing her household.

FDS is conducted monthly by DSWD and partners from non-government organizations, the private sector, and civil society organizations. It serves as a venue where topics on effective parenting, husband and wife relationships, child development, laws affecting the Filipino family, gender and development, home management, active citizenship, and electoral education are discussed.

As of May 27, 2015, a total of 4,424,705 active households nationwide are covered by the program. Of this number, 559,374 are IP beneficiary-households of which 416,671 are in Mindanao, 134,471 in Luzon, and 8,232 in Visayas. In Panay Island which is composed of the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, and Iloilo, there are 496 active IP household-beneficiaries.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that the inclusion of IPs in Pantawid Pamilya reflects this administration’s principle of inclusive growth where no one is left behind, especially for the sectors that have long been overlooked in the past.

[1] The Ati is a Negrito indigenous group from Panay Island, Visayas.



What you need to know about children with HIV/AIDS

By Fritzie Rodriguez

A new HIV treatment innovation can help save the lives of many children. The problem, however, is that many parents and children remain unaware of HIV/AIDS.

TRANSMISSION. An HIV-positive mother can transmit the virus to her child during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or breastfeeding

TRANSMISSION. An HIV-positive mother can transmit the virus to her child during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or breastfeeding

MANILA, Philippines – An improved treatment could help save the lives of children with HIV, the United Nations said on Wednesday, June 5.

The “new antiretroviral formulation” can be mixed with food, making it easier for kids to take their medicines. The oral pellets were made by Indian generic medicines manufacturer CIPLA, and was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

“Treatment innovations such as this that replace unpleasant and bad tasting medicines are areal breakthrough, accelerating access to treatment for children and keeping our youngest healthy,” UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, said in a press statement.

“It is unacceptable that only 24 percent of children living with HIV have access to antiretroviral medicines,” he added. Without treatment, one in 3 children infected with HIV would die before his or her first birthday, and half would die before they turn two.

As of 2013, there are around 3.2 million children worldwide living with HIV/AIDS, said the World Health Organization (WHO).

From 1984 to 2014, there have been 65 HIV cases among Filipino children under 15 years old, the Department of Health (DOH) reported. Meanwhile, there have been 4,307 cases among Filipino youths aged 15-24.

In total, there have been 107 reported HIV deaths among Filipino youths, and 15 deaths among children. (PODCAST: We need to talk about HIV)

Pinoy kids with HIV

Children living with HIV/AIDS are those under 18 years old who have close family members living with HIV, or have lost close family members to HIV/AIDS, and are infected with HIV themselves.

How do they acquire HIV/AIDS?

Most of them have it right after birth, since HIV-positive mothers can transmit the virus to their children during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or breastfeeding.

Mother-to-baby transmissions could be prevented by giving both parties HIV drugs. However, not all women are aware of their HIV status or of available medical services like free HIV tests, treatments, and counselling.

In the Philippines, most children are also unaware that their parents have HIV, the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) observed. “Filipino parents living with HIV are reluctant to tell their children about their status because they want to protect their children from HIV-related stigma and discrimination,” it added.

As a result, infected children are not informed about their own HIV status.

Some parents with HIV might also be unable to look after their children once their bodies weaken. This could tear families apart, the Unicef said, as some parents ask their children to live with relatives.

In other cases, when the parents stop working, the children’s needs like healthcare and education might also cease. Some children might even quit school to care for their sick parents.


Several young Filipinos remain clueless about HIV/AIDS, the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study revealed.

This lack of awareness only adds fire to the growing stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS.

Filipino youth's knowledge of HIV/AIDS

Source: 2013 YAFFS

Highest education attainment Has comprehensive knowledge
College 25.7%
High school graduate 19.6%
High school undergrad 12.7%
Elementary 8.4%

In March 2015, the DOH recorded 667 new HIV cases, the highest record since the country's first case in 1984. The Philippines also has the world's fastest growing HIV epidemic, the WHO declared.

Although smaller in number, Filipino children are also part of the nation's struggle not only against HIV/AIDS, but also against stigma and misinformation. –

Pregnant womanimageandvirus backgroundimagefrom Shutterstock

Awareness best weapon against HIV-Aids

By Julie Fianza

BAGUIO City officials agree that education and the right information campaign are the most effective weapons in the fight against the Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV-Aids).

This common stand ran through the messages of Mayor Mauricio Domogan, Committee chair on Health and environment protection Councilor Fred Bagbagen, Health Services Office (HSO) head Dr. Rowena Galpo, Department of Health (DOH) OIC Amelita Pangilinan, other medical personnel and health advocates during an Aids memorial ceremony recently.

The message was echoed by Marlene de Castro of the Baguio Center for Young Adults (BCYA), as she emphasized that youths should employ intelligent decisions, and use discipline with responsibility when confronted with AIDS-related situations.

Government agencies, non-government organizations are within reach for persons needing help, she said.

Attending during the forum were members of the Baguio Association of Bars and Entertainers (Babes), aside from government personnel and concerned private individuals.

To boost information dissemination, the national Aids prevention control program was launched in 1988. It was followed up by the surveillance, organization of persons with Aids, establishment of the Bahay Lingap in 1995, an Aids international congress in the Asia and the Pacific in 1996, and an Aids congress hosted by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in 1997. The Philippine Information Agency (PIA), non-government organizations (NGOs) and the mass media joined the information campaign.

Because there is no known medical cure for Aids, everyone should keep safe and healthy, Councilor Bagbagen said.

Aids, though preventable, is transmitted through unprotected sex, blood transfusion, needle and syringe use especially among drug users, and breastfeeding.

Statistics show a steep increase in Aids cases due to rapid transmission, a rise that has been described as "epidemic."

For those infected, researches on pain treatment caused by Aids infections are being done, Dr. Galpo said in her message.

A voluntary, confidential and free diagnostic HIV testing is provided, including pre and post counseling, in coordination with the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) and DOH-Cordillera, Dr. Pangilinan said.

Early diagnosis, treatment, care and support, including a non-stigma approach and non-discriminatory environment was found favorable for infected persons.

The ABCDE for the prevention of AIDS are: Abstinence; Be Faithful; Careful Sex; Don't Share Needles; Education and information.

Also sending representatives to the forum were the Baguio Aids watch council, City Social Welfare and Development Office, Department of Education, Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, the Philippine National Red Cross, among other national and local agencies.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 08, 2015.

HIV-Aids, maternal death still pressing concerns

By Ivy C. Tejano

THE Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV-Aids), which now has recorded 25 percent increase as compared to last year, and maternal deaths continue to be the major health concerns that have to be solved, said the Department of Health (DOH).

"The Philippines is among the nine countries which has 25 percent increase in HIV cases, and we have one case per 1-hour and 15-minutes. In Davao City alone, we recorded 1,021 HIV-Aids cases. Indeed, HIV-Aids is a problem that we have to face," health medical officer Gracita T. Bergua.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that infects cells of the immune system, destroying or impairing their function. As the infection progresses, the immune system becomes weaker, and the person becomes more susceptible to infections.

The most advanced stage of HIV infection is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (Aids). It can take 10 to 15 years for an HIV-infected person to develop Aids. Antiretroviral drugs can slow down the process even further.

WHO said HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse (anal or vaginal), transfusion of contaminated blood, sharing of contaminated needles, and between a mother and her infant during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

Bergua said the Davao region has 1,362 HIV-Aids cases since 1984. Of the total cases, 74 are females and 1,288 are males. In addition to this, there are already 34 HIV-Aids cases recorded from January this year.

Raquel D. Montejo, health municipal officer, and in-charge of the infant and under-5 mortality program, said their health officers recorded 11.8 percent infant mortality rate for every 1,000 live births and 12.3 percent under-5 mortality rate in Davao Region in 2014.

In addition to this, there were 144 maternal mortality ratio per 100,000 live births recorded in Davao Region last year.

"More than 10 mothers died everyday due to pregnancy and early delivery due to related reasons, while 30 children were left by their mothers every day," said health medical officer Lady Jedfeliz C. Molleno.

According to the health department, the common cause for the maternal deaths includes the following:

* Complications related to pregnancy occurring in the course of labor, delivery and puerperium.

* Hypertension complicating pregnancy, childbirth and puerperium.

* Postpartum (period of time following childbirth) hemorrhage

* Pregnancy with abortive outcome

With this, the DOH in Davao held Tuesday the High Impact Five (HI-5) Summit at Apo View Hotel in Davao City to discuss the latest strategies in health and address the prevailing health problems and issues in affected areas of the country.

The Universal Health Care High Impact Five (UHC-HI-5) is a strategy that aims to produce the greatest improvements in health outcomes and the highest impact on the priority, vulnerable population, with focus on five critical UHC interventions prioritizing the poor, providing tangible outputs that are felt within a breakthrough period of 15 months through synchronized nationwide implementation of activities.

DOH Assistant Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial said the programs under the HI-5 are geared toward reduction of maternal and infant deaths, improved under-5 children, halt the HIV-Aids and establishment of the functional service delivery network in all areas in the country.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 09, 2015.


National Summit on Internal Migration


The Commission on Population (POPCOM) leads the first National Summit on Internal Migration with the theme: Filipinos’ Mobility: Implications to Development.Internal Migration is an important population event that has significant implications to national development.

To understand this further, 200 participants from different national and sub-national agencies participate in the Summit to discuss the implications of internal migration as a population event to education, economy, social welfare and protection, environment, employment, health and urban management and local governance.

To launch this event, media outfits are invited to send their reporters and news crew to the event at the date, time and venue stated below.



National Summit on Internal Migration



June 25, 2015 (Thursday)



8:00 A.M - 5:00 P.M.








  • Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III, POPCOM
  • Professor NimfaOgena, UP Population Institute
  • Sec. Bro. Armin Luistro, DepEd
  • Mayor Rafael A. Tanjuatco, Municipality of Tanay, Rizal

Press Release
2015 National Migration Summit

Two hundred participants from different government agencies, civil service organizations and private sector groups will participate in the first National Summit on Internal Migration. The event, slated on June 25, 2015 in Manila, aims to discuss the challenges of internal migration as a population process and its implications to national development. Internal migration remains to be an important angle in the equation of development. However, it is often overlooked due to insufficient data for analysis and use in development and policy planning.

With the theme, Filipinos’ Mobility: Implications to Development, the Summit shall highlight the effects of population movement to education, economy, social welfare and protection, environment, employment, health and urban management and local governance, all of which contribute to the overall growth and development of the country.

Early sexual activity in girls can lead to cervical cancer–and a condom is no help

By Marge C. Enriquez

Because this disease is caused mainly by the easily contracted HPV virus, early detection and prevention are critical, say experts

Thirteen-year-old Lara (not her real name) has been a commercial sex worker since she was 5. Ninety-something Lola Lita (not her real name) was married to a promiscuous husband.

This is the extreme age range of patients diagnosed with cervical cancer that obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Esther Rhadamanthine V. Ganzon Jr has encountered.

Every day, seven women die of cervical cancer, the second most common cancer among Filipino women, according to a 2014 report from the World Health Organization. (The most common is breast cancer.)

Cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which contaminates eight out of 10 women in their lives, says the Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates.



The cervix is an inch-long canal between the womb and the vagina which facilitates blood flow during menstruation and the birth of a baby. Cervical cancer is caused by uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells. Ninety-seven percent of cervical cancer is caused by HPV.

Dr. Ganzon said, “HPV is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Sexual penetration is not necessary to pass on the virus. Any form of sexual intimacy like heavy petting or oral sex, can transmit HPV. The condom is not an effective protection. It merely covers the penile shaft; most of the skin around the genitals of males and females come into contact anyway. HPV lives in epithelial cells in the skin.”

HPV infection is not easily detected unless the woman undergoes a pap smear. “The doctor will detect the pre-cancerous lesions and treat you as needed. If you are not screened yearly, most likely you will develop precancerous lesions, and it can take 10 to 15 years for it to be a full-blown cervical cancer,” explained Ganzon.

In the late stages, the symptoms are manifested in abnormal uterine bleeding or bleeding after sex, pelvic and leg pain and foul-smelling vaginal odor. Weight loss and bloody urine occur in the advanced stages. A patient’s chances for survival are a slim 20 percent within five years.

Early detection and treatment can increase the patient’s survival by 80 percent. The common treatments are surgery in the early stage, performed by specialists such as Ganzon, and chemotherapy and radiation in the advanced stages.

MARK Castillo of GlaxoSmithKline

MARK Castillo of GlaxoSmithKline

Cervical cancer vaccination is another prevention method.   The vaccine is a three-dose shot given to girls as young as 9 years old, or before she becomes sexually active. “It provides the antibodies to fight the virus later in life. Antibodies can stay for 20 to 50 years, depending on immune system,” she said.

Ninja sex party

Women with multiple sexual partners and those who engage in sexual intercourse immediately after puberty are at high risk.

She noted that her nonagenarian patient was diagnosed with cervical cancer 20 years after her husband died. “You can get cervical cancer even if you are not sexually active but have been active previously.”

Ganzon heads the gynecological department of Parañaque Doctor’s Hospital and is a consultant at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center. She has also worked in charity hospitals such as the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

In a clinic in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, she discovered that half of the 500 cancer patients were diagnosed with cervical cancer.

GINGER Conejero, spokesperson of cervical cancer awareness

GINGER Conejero, spokesperson of cervical cancer awareness

Ganzon admitted getting shocked at the sexual behavior of the youth these days, such as in ninja sex parties in which participants allegedly go to a venue, are blindfolded and have casual sex with strangers.


Cancer survivor

Although statistics from PGH and Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center report 6,600 cases a year, Ganzon believes that the actual numbers can reach 10,000.

“Many cases are not diagnosed properly as cervical cancer so the statistics are underrated,” she said.

She added that cervical cancer screening is almost nonexistent, even if it is funded by the Department of Health. Despite the free tests, women in the lower income groups don’t make their health a priority.

Ganzon has been touring the country with the multinational pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), giving lectures to doctors and lay people about cervical cancer awareness.

Mark Castillo, GSK associate product manager for HPV and hepatitis, said its “Power Over Cervical Cancer” program is part of a continuing campaign on educating women.



GSK Philippines works with VMV Hypoallergenics, which offers its purple lipstick as symbol of support.

GSK has been producing campaign materials in Pilipino to target women from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority and maritime organizations, particularly wives of seamen.

During the press conference for “Power Over Cervical Cancer,” Rosali Anne D. Avila, a double survivor of breast and cervical cancer, revealed the benefits of early detection.

Avila was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Before undergoing chemotherapy, she had a health screening which included a pap smear. She found out that she was also in the second stage of cervical cancer, characterized by bleeding and a local tumor.

For 18 months, she underwent 19 cycles of chemotherapy for both cancers. The treatment also included brachytherapy, an internal radiation specific to the cervix.

Her program was completed last January and her recent test results were optimistic.

Today Avila values life even more.

“The biggest takeaway is the lifting of my spirit,” she said.

Source:Manila Bulletin
Date :Jun. 11, 2014   

 The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the Philippine government is working to restore access to education, health services and livelihood activities especially in disaster-hit areas, and provide technical assistance to the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recover, the US Embassy said in
a statement on Tuesday.
The USAID through Acting Assistant Administrator for Asia Denise Rollins formally unveiled its strategies to improve the Philippine educational system in three simultaneous conferences highlighting the agency’s increased focus on science, technology, innovation and partnerships to promote more inclusive growth.
Speaking before an open forum at the Makati Intercontinental Hotel, the ambassador mulled changing the “pressure cooker” system of education in the Philippines by adapting the Finland educational approach.
The Programme for International Assessment (Pisa) found that students in Singapore, South Korea and Finland outperformed others in reading, math and science.
“In Finland, they don’t push their students to the limit. They won’t push someone to be a doctor if his or her ability can only strive for being less,” a conference participant said.
The Philippines ranked 70th in the Pisa survey.
To remedy this, the USAID has lined up projects such as the setting up of a Philippine Government University-Industry-Research Roundtable as well as Industry-focused careers centers and the creation of University or Industry research centers all over the country.
Furthermore, a helpdesk, research grants and scholarship programs with exchange visits of both students and faculty of both countries were scheduled.
The USAID also urged the participants to support the Innovation and Technology Support Offices network.
It revealed the top three missions of the “improved partnership” between the US and the Philippines. These include the Industry Private Sector Engagement; the Science, Technology, Innovation Capacity Development; and the enhancement of Institutional Policy and Management Capacity in the country.
‘Yolanda’ rehabilitation
Earlier, Rollins unveiled the USAID reconstruction and recovery activities in areas severely affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda last year including Leyte and Samar.
According to the US Embassy in Manila, this ‘enhanced’ US government support program to help the Filipinos respond to and recover from the devastating effects of the super typhoon will cost around $142.5 million (P6.2 billion),
Part of the program’s education component is the provision of teaching kits and funding the construction of 165 fully furnished classrooms throughout the province.
Furthermore, the US government is introducing climate-adaptive technologies to farmers and fisherfolk, which will enable them to pursue more beneficial and sustainable livelihood opportunities.
This will be matched by production support, farming and post-harvest equipment, and support facilities such as trading centers, boat landings, warehouses and solar dryers.
The embassy said this will be implemented in coordination with the Department of Education to address the need for permanent school buildings in typhoon-affected areas.
This upgraded US government support program to help the people of the Philippines respond to and recover from the devastating effects of the killer storm will cost around $142.5 million.
Rollins also inaugurated the first two of the 1,000 sari-sari (variety) stores that will be constructed and rehabilitated by the US government and American firms, Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble.
This is expected to help restore livelihood and help stabilize the supply and prices of basic consumer goods in typhoon-devastated communities.
On the other hand, the construction of a US-funded $480,000 (around P21-million) school building with eight classrooms that will be undertaken in San Fernando Central School was also announced.
“We will continue our work with our [Philippine government] partners to help the province build back better, to be more resilient to future disasters and ultimately work toward a more stable, prosperous nation that can achieve broad-based and inclusive growth,” said Rolllins.

Source:Manila Bulletin
Author : Manila Bulletin
Date :Jun. 17, 2014   

 Presidential Proclamation No. 1307 signed on June 21, 2007, declared every third week of June as National Safe Kids Week in the Philippines. Government and private agencies are urged to harmonize their efforts on child injury prevention and improve the health of children, as traumatic injury is one of leading
causes of mortality and morbidity in Filipino children. The proclamation recognized Safe Kids Philippines (SKP) as a global non-government organization dedicated to the prevention of unintentional injuries to children. SKP leads the 10th year celebration of National Safe Kids Week on June 14-18, 2014. It gets support from the Department of Education, which enjoins all elementary and high schools, both public and private, as well as educators to celebrate the week and focus on prevention of unintentional injury. Organized in 2002, he SKP expanded its activities from prevention of childhood injuries to road traffic, drowning, falls, poisoning, and burns, and safety precautions for children who use the social media. SKP is in solidarity with the global observance of Safe Kids Week, an annual campaign to raise awareness about the frequency and severity of preventable childhood injuries, the leading cause of death and disability among children worldwide. Each year, the campaign focuses on a specific injury and this year’s theme is “Safe Swimming. Safe Splashing. Safe Kids.” Parents, families, schools, workplaces and communities, including in the Philippines, are participating in activities – parades, fun runs, lectures, swimming contests – to make them aware and involve in promoting safety information on water safety and drowning prevention. National Safe Kids Week in the Philippines coincides with opening of the school year, the start of the rainy season that spawns flooding, while in United States of America, Canada, and Europe it is summer, when families spend time on beaches and resorts. It is important to keep children safe, no matter where the observance is being held. Supervision of children when they are around or in the water, proper pool fencing, use of lifejackets, adult training in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and swimming lessons help prevent drowning. All children are at risk for drowning, but young children under five years of age are at special risk because they are attracted to water but cannot understand the danger; they can walk but they cannot swim and their lungs are smaller than adults and fill quickly with water. Watching children having fun while swimming and splashing brings delight, but it is also the time to help them build awareness of water safety, including the key reminders to be prepared, get  swimming lessons, and learn first aid.

Source:Manila Bulletin
Author : Freddie G. Lazaro
Date :Jun. 17, 2014   

 Laoag City, Ilocos Norte — Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Juliano-Soliman cited Ilocos Norte as model champion in poverty reduction. Out from the 247,882 identified poor households in Region 1, it was reported that only 10% or 24,890 are from Ilocos Norte and all of them have already been
reached out by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) programs and services together with the provincial government. “Actually, Ilocos Norte is very close to what the DSWD and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) is trying to achieve which is to eliminate extreme poverty and hunger,” Soliman said. In a media forum held at the Plaza del Norte, Laoag City, she claimed that Ilocos Norte is not qualified enough for the poverty reduction programs of the DSWD having 9.2% poverty incidence. For her part, Governor Imee R. Marcos expressed appreciation to the poverty reduction programs being implemented by the DSWD in the local level. The lady governor said the DSWD programs and services especially the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) is very effective considering the beneficiaries’ conscious utilization of their cash grants as what the program conditionalities require. Marcos stressed her strong belief in the localization of DSWD’s programs and services through convergence strategy with all local government units for the poor to stay out from poverty and strategize sustainability.

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Based on the 2015 Census of Population with a Total Population of 100,979,303 and 2010-2015 Population Growth Rate of 1.72 and calculation using Geometric Equation

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