Countdown to Gold

"POPCOM 50th Anniversary"

February 19, 2019


The Chief Justice commented yesterday that the existing Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on contraceptives is “limited to only those two implants”, referring to Implanon and Implanon NXT, which are both subdermal implants used in the Family Planning program, a pillar of the Philippine Population Management Program of the Commission on Population.

The Chief Justice, however, is only referring to the second part of the TRO of June 17, 2015 which restrained government from using the products mentioned. The first order of the TRO specifically ordered Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to refrain from “granting any and all pending applications for registration and/or recertification for contraceptive drugs and devices.”

It is important to note that RA 8203 on counterfeit drugs considers unregistered drugs (Section 2 (b) as counterfeit drugs which cannot be sold, offered for sale, distributed, donated. It also includes possession of such unregistered drugs without the proper documents of lawful ownership.

Press Release
July 28, 2017

POPCOM: TRO affects not only implants but pills, also infringes 700,000 women’s right to choose


President Rodrigo Duterte, in his second State of the Nation Address, again stressed the importance of the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law. He emphasized that the Supreme Court’s Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the RPRH Law has become “the bane of [government] projects”.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, on July 21, sought to clarify that the existing TRO is limited only to Implanon and Implanon NXT; these are subdermal implants that last up to three (3) years and are highly utilized for the Family Planning Program.

The Chief Justice, however, is only referring to the second part of the TRO of June 17, 2015 which restrained government from using the products mentioned. The first order of the TRO specifically ordered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to refrain from “granting any and all pending applications for registration and/or recertification for contraceptive drugs and devices.”

The Commission on Population (POPCOM) notes that RA 8203 on counterfeit drugs considers unregistered drugs (Section 2(b) as counterfeit drugs which cannot be sold, offered for sale, distributed, donated. It also includes possession of such unregistered drugs without the proper documents of lawful ownership.

POPCOM Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III already expressed urgency of the situation and stressed that there is a burgeoning public health emergency if the TRO will not be lifted. “Because of the TRO, FDA could not recertify 30 out of 47 contraceptives with expired registrations, and as long as the TRO persists, more and more contraceptives will lose their certificates of product registration,” he shared.


 July 27, 2017

Pinoy 100 millionth baby turns 3, Philippines falls from world population ranking


On July 27, 2017, the Philippines’ symbolic 100 millionth babies turned three years old.

The Commission on Population (POPCOM) identified the symbolic babies across the country last July 27, 2014, with baby Chonalyn being the representative from the National Capital Region.  Her birth was witnessed by officials from the Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) and POPCOM at the Fabella Hospital in Manila.

The 2014 demographic event was an institutional reality-check that the country was then registering a 100-million population record. In only about three years’ time, today, our country has a population of 104.3 million. This number was based on the projection of  Population’s (POPCEN) at 100.9 million count in 2015. This makes the country the 13th largest in the world and second biggest in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region.

Press Release
World Population Day
July 11, 2017


POPCOM joins World Population Day 2017, Empowers the rights of Filipino People


The Commission on Population, in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund joins the celebration of this year’s World Population Day (WPD) on July 11, 2017 at the National Government Center, Quezon City. With the theme, Family Planning: Empowering People; Developing Nations (Pagpaplano ng Pamilya: Lakas ng Sambayanan; Kaunlaran ng Pamayanan), WPD 2017 puts premium on the crucial role of family planning in nation building. 

The 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) revealed that one in 10 young Filipino women aged 15 to 19 is already a mother or pregnant with her first child. Likewise, one in five poor married women and one in four uneducated married women has unmet need for family planning. The same study also showed that women who participate in household decision making are more likely to use a family planning method. Decision making and taking control of one’s self are indeed catalysts for social and national development.


Empowerment, as the theme underscores, encourages women and couples to be more confident in claiming their reproductive rights, especially their right to choose when to have children and how many in accordance to their socio-economic, emotional and psychological capacity. Family Planning, globally, also contributes to the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Commission on Population’s Official Statement on President Rodrigo Duterte’s First State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 25, 2016

In the first ever State of the Nation (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte, he mentioned “health” six times and one of the most precious moments for the Commission on Population (POPCOM) was when he coupled it with the word “reproductive.”

Lauded by the live audience in the first SONA of President Duterte and among the reproductive health advocates was his statement about population management:

“The implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law must be put into full force and effect [applause] so that couples, especially the poor, will have freedom of informed choice on the number and spacing of children they can adequately care and provide for, [applause] eventually making them more productive members of the labor force.”

Being the country’s central policy making, planning and coordinating body for the population program, POPCOM supports the call of the President to fully implement the RPRH Law.

The Commission on Population recognizes the importance given by the President in reproductive health specifically in family planning from Day 1 of his office to his first SONA where he stated his vision for the RPRH beyond his term. As a matter of fact, the Commission directs its priority to the family planning (FP) program of the country.

 “We’ve been strongly pushing to immediately lift the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in some of the important provisions of the law,” POPCOM Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III said.

74 countries post hike in new HIV infections ­— study


DURBAN, South Africa – Seventy-four countries, including the Philippines, have seen an increase in new HIV infections over the past decade, threatening efforts to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, a new global study showed.

Based on a study from the Global Burden of Disease collaborative network, published in The Lancet HIV, the 74 countries saw increases in “age-standardized rate of new infections” between 2005 and 2015. 

Among them are Egypt, Pakistan, Kenya, the Philippines, Cambodia, Mexico and Russia.

The study, released at the 21st International AIDS Conference being held in Durban, also showed that while the global number of new cases continues to decline, the pace has greatly slowed. 

New infections of HIV went down by an average of only 0.7 percent per year between 2005 and 2015, compared to the 2.7 percent drop per year between 1997 and 2005.

The study was based on findings from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study, coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.

HIV/AIDS “remains very high by any standard,” United Nations Joint Program on HIV/AIDS founding executive director Peter Piot said, commenting on the study.

“The continuing high level of incidence of new infections of HIV in the world is the most disturbing fact that has been announced here at the conference,” he said.

“It means really that AIDS is not yet over and that HIV/AIDS remains one of the biggest public health threats of our time.”

Piot, now director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has underscored the need to study the HIV/AIDS situation in the late 1990s when there was a decrease in new infections although anti-retroviral therapy (ART) was not yet available then.

“The continuing high rate of over two million new HIV infections represents a collective failure which must be addressed through intensified prevention efforts and continued investment in HIV vaccine research,” he said.


-Sheila Crisostomo



There are hundreds of new HIV/AIDS cases in the Philippines every month. In 2015 alone, 7,829 cases were recorded, according to the Integrated HIV Behavioral Serologic Surveillance (IHBSS) conducted by the Epidemiology Bureau of Department of Health. Furthermore, in Palawan under Region IV-B, HIV continues to increase, with 40 new cases in 2015. In the same year, figures show that its capital, Puerto Princesa, ranked 3rd out of 36 cities having the highest HIV prevalence among men having sex with men. 

As a response to the healthcare need of the community, a multi-sectoral group composed of Project: Health, Help, Hope, Happiness (Project H4), The Love Yourself Inc. (TLY), Department of Health (DOH) Region IV-B, and Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI) came together in setting up a volunteer-run community center–a safe haven where people can take an HIV test without the fear of discrimination or prejudice. 

Dubbed “Amos Tara!” or “Let’s go!” in the Cuyunon dialect, the community center is located in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan and was recently inaugurated to the public. “I hope people don’t see it as an HIV clinic, but a community center, a youth center, a place to be happy and safe,” said PSFI programme manager Marvi Trudeau. 

Aside from counseling and testing, Amos Tara! will be the venue for HIV 101 mini-sessions, which aims to promote peer education, as well as livelihood and personality development among the youth.

According to PSFI executive director Edgardo Veron Cruz, businesses and even the economy of country will get affected if employees increasingly become afflicted with HIV/AIDS. As such, the foundation has started to become proactive in fighting the disease through its program called the Philippine Business Sector Response (PBSR) to HIV/AIDS.

PSFI launched the program with the aim of encouraging companies to have access to information, training, and services, necessary for the institution of workplace policies and programs on HIV and AIDS.

The program’s area of coverage initially focused on the National Capital Region, and then expanded to Batangas and Palawan, where Shell has work sites equipped with ground breaking technology for developing new energy sources. Through its involvement in the creation of Amos Tara!, PSFI has also stepped up the fight in helping save lives in the province. 


-Malaya Business Insight

PH contraceptives expiring in 2018, unless SC lifts TRO

By Tina G. Santos


BY 2018, 90 percent of contraceptive brands will no longer be available in the market, including P248 million worth of hormonal contraceptives that would be expiring soon.

This was bared by Reproductive Health (RH) Law advocates who are now calling on the Supreme Court to lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) on family planning

“The expiration of these modern contraceptives would result in a limited brand or kind of contraceptive for the couples to choose from. They would thus be deprived of their reproductive health and rights,” Lydio Espanol, Commission on Population Region IV-B director, told a forum in Quezon City on Tuesday.

“Unless the TRO is lifted, government investments like that of the procured subdermal implants which are now on stock in the Department of Health (DOH) warehouses and will be expiring by 2018 will all go to waste. Aside from the procured implants, investments made in the training of health practitioners is also wasted,” he added.

On June 17, 2015, the high court prohibited the health department from “procuring, selling, distributing, dispensing or administering, advertising and promoting the hormonal contraceptive Implanon and Implanon NXT” because it prevented pregnancies up to three years.

Pending applications

The Supreme Court, in the same ruling, also stopped the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from granting pending applications for reproductive products, including contraceptives.

The TRO was issued a year after the high tribunal ruled that the Reproductive Health Law was constitutional.

Similar appeal

The health department found the apparently contradictory ruling “frustrating” and made a similar appeal to the high court to lift the ban.

Citing studies by the National Demographic Health Survey, RH Law advocates said there were 1.9 million unplanned pregnancies annually, which might be risky for the women if they were not given access to proper health care.

May-I Fabros, representative for WomenHealth Philippines, said the TRO issued by the high court against the distribution of contraceptive implants, particularly Implanon, by the DOH, as provided under the Reproductive Health Law “creates a barrier” for women who may want to make their own decisions in terms of pregnancy and motherhood.

“Let us not rob them of the capacity to make their own decisions. We call on the Supreme Court to provide healthcare for young women and girls,” said Fabros in a press briefing.

Read more: 

Most contraceptives to run out by 2018 – PopCom

By Jee Y. Geronimo


Filipino women will be left with a limited number of expensive products by then as the more affordable products will lose their certificates in 2017,' says the Commission on Population.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – What's at stake if the Supreme Court's (SC) temporary restraining order (TRO) in relation to family planning commodities remains in place?

The Commission on Population (PopCom) said almost 90% of contraceptive brands will no longer be available by 2018, which will make the reproductive health (RH) law "ineffective."

"This situation will make the most important elements of the [Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health] Law ineffective and deprive Filipino women and men of their reproductive health and rights," PopCom executive director Juan Antonio Perez III said in a statement sent to Rappler on Wednesday, July 13, as he urged the lifting of the TRO.

The SC in 2015 temporarily stopped the health department's distribution and sale of implants, a contraceptive that can prevent pregnancies for up to 3 years.

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

According to PopCom's summary sent to Rappler, a total of 48 modern family planning commodities had FDA certificates on June 17, 2015 – the date when the TRO was issued.

As of July 2016, the FDA certificates of 14 commodities already expired. The certificate of another injectable is set to expire by December 2016.

By 2018, the certificates of almost 90% of the family planning commodities will expire, unless the SC lifts the TRO.

Expiration % TOTAL Pill Injectable IUD Implant Vaginal Ring
July 2016 29.17% 14 11 2 - 1 -
December 2016 2.08% 1 - 1 - - -
2017 29.17% 14 11 3 - - -
2018 29.17% 14 12 2 - - -
2019 8.33% 4 2 - 1 - 1
2020 2.08% 1 - - - 1 -
TOTAL 100% 48 36 8 1 2 1

With the expiration of the FDA certificates, PopCom said couples will have limited brands of contraceptives to choose from.

"Filipino women will be left with a limited number of expensive products by then as the more affordable products will lose their certificates in 2017," the commission added.

Meanwhile, PopCom said the subdermal implants bought by government and are now on stock in the health department's warehouses "will all go to waste." These implants will expire by 2018.

The latest report on the implementation of the RH law revealed that despite the TRO, the use of modern family planning methods in the country still increased in 2015.

"We need to exert greater efforts to reduce the unmet need for family planning and reproductive health services by 4 to 5 million couples and individuals who want the services to limit or space their children in their reproductive year," Perez said.

Perez told Rappler that the Office of the Solicitor General already filed a motion to lift the TRO in 2015.

Another motion filed last June 24 also asked the SC to allow the distribution of existing units of implants "before their expiration dates pending resolution of this case."

Benjamin de Leon, president of the Forum for Family Planning and Development, also urged the SC justices to "uphold the law and lift the TRO."

After all, the health agenda of the Duterte administration, he said, "is clear in addressing unmet need for family planning and RH."

"There should not be any barriers to access to RH…. We assert that the TRO impacts the implementation of the RH Law because it limits family planning services by the Department of Health and all public health facilities that cater to majority of Filipinos, particularly the poor," de Leon added.

Last week, National Economic and Development Authority chief Ernesto Pernia said he will ask Duterte to issue an executive order that will urge local government units to fully implement the RH law.

Pernia said an earlier and full implementation of the law could have helped accelerate poverty reduction in the country. –

News Article

July 14, 2016


If RH Law TRO lifted, More Contraceptive Choices, Supplies

With the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) limiting the implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law, the Commission on Population (POPCOM) urges the administration to fast track the removal of the TRO in order to achieve sufficient supply of contraceptives especially the more effective.

The TRO restricts the Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) from “granting any and all pending applications for registration and/or recertification for reproductive products and supplies including contraceptive drugs and devices.”

The TRO also prevents the agencies from “procuring, selling, distributing, dispensing, or administering, advertising, and promoting the hormonal contraceptive Implanon and Implanon NXT.”

“The procurement of contraceptives is critically important in order to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy. If a woman is sexually active, effective family planning methods help her correctly and consistently plans birthing. Among reversible methods of birth control, intrauterine contraception and the contraceptive implant remain highly effective for years,” POPCOM Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III said.

implanon NXT


Press Release
World Population Day 2016
July 11, 2016

POPCOM joins World Population Day 2016, Upholds the rights of teenage girls

The Commission on Population (POPCOM) joins the celebration of the 2016 World Population Day by highlighting the importance of women empowerment and solidarity towards the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

With the theme, Investing in Teenage Girls, this year’s World Population Day takes into account the crucial role of young women in national development and that they need to be given quality information and services to fulfil their potential as catalysts for change.  

All around the world, young women face many challenges which pose great risk to their wellbeing and future. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 59 million girls have already been married by age 18 in the Asia and Pacific region alone;  while 20 thousand girls aged 15-19 give birth each day in developing countries.

The lack of access to correct information and services puts the lives of these girls in jeopardy, as complications due to pregnancy and child birth continue to be one of the leading cause of death among them. An estimated 3.2 million unsafe abortions also occur among the same age group.

“The Philippines is the only country in the Asia Pacific Region where teenage pregnancy has been on the rise for the last two decades”, according to UNFPA Country Representative Klaus Beck. 

College couple charged with infanticide

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Two students of a university in Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental have been accused of killing their newborn baby on Saturday.

The infanticide complaint was filed with the Kabankalan City Prosecutor’s Office against a 20-year-old and her 19-year-old boyfriend on Monday.

Superintendent German Garbosa, chief of Kabankalan City police, said the female student is under hospital arrest at the Lorenzo D. Zayco District Hospital while her boyfriend is detained in the police station.

Investigation showed that the baby was delivered in the boarding house of the female student with the assistance of her boyfriend around 11 p.m. on Friday. The male student threw the baby in a banana plantation behind the boarding house and confessed what he did to the landlady.

The landlady and the school security guard found the infant and brought her to the Lorenzo D. Zayco District Hospital, where she was declared dead on arrival.


Danny Dangcalan

DOH to scrap vaccination program vs HPV–Garin


The Department of Health (DOH) is scrapping the school-based human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program set to be rolled out next month to help curb the prevalence of cervical cancer in the country.

Health Secretary Janette Garin cited limited funds and concerns raised by some sectors that the vaccine might encourage promiscuity for the policy decision.

The HPV vaccine program will be shifted to local government health centers, particularly those in the poorest provinces, Garin told reporters.

“There are misinterpretations and misinformation among the public that as we promote vaccination against cervical cancer among young girls, we are also promoting promiscuity, which is not true,” said Garin.

Not in schools

“But to show the public that we are not forcing the program, [we will not implement this in schools],” she said.

She said the new vaccine will still be made available for free to 300,000 children aged 8 and 9 by local government units and health centers in the 20 poorest provinces identified by the National Economic Development Authority.

“The HPV vaccination program will no longer be school-based. We will be shifting to the local government units,” she said, adding that priority would be given to the poorest provinces.

HPV, an infection commonly spread during vaginal, oral or anal sex, has been associated with the development of cervical cancer, genital warts and other cancers like oral or throat cancer and anal cancers. Studies have shown that 99 percent of cervical cancer is caused by HPV.

According to the World Health Organization, the two HPV vaccines being marketed in many countries throughout the world are “highly efficacious” in preventing infection with two virus types responsible for roughly 70 percent of cervical cancer cases globally.

Program rollout

Initially, the plan was to roll out the HPV vaccination program among Grade 4 female students with parental consent in the 20 poorest provinces in the country along with the launch of school-based immunization against measles, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis next month.

Garin said studies have shown that the HPV vaccine was best administered to children aged 8 and 9, when they are not likely to have started sexual activity.

Next to breast cancer, cervical cancer is the top cancer killer among Filipino women. At least 6,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year or 12 per day, according to the DOH.



Can contraception kill you?

Before anything else, here’s the truth about contraception you might want to know: Despite having sent a spacecraft to Pluto, Earth’s scientists have not been able to develop contraception that is 100 percent effective, 100 percent safe, and 100 percent tolerable. All methods have risks, that either result in failure (barrier) or health complications.
There is no one fail-safe, fail-proof method that answers this trifecta of ideal requirements, and we should not believe any product claiming to be the Holy Grail of birth control. Some products are nearly perfectly effective, but are not tolerable, causing nausea and a host of side effects women cannot live with. Some, like the condom, have no side effects, but are, in the league of birth control products, not the most effective, the way hormone injections are.

So why do we bother? Because the alternative to not taking up contraception is abstinence, natural methods such as rhythm (calendar), which is so prone to human error, or, sadly, for many women, resorting to clandestine, unsafe abortions that account for 20 percent of the world’s maternal mortality rate.


Despite these “unrealistic” alternatives, especially for women in long-term relationships, many still fail to choose and use contraception that is right for their lifestyle. And we can’t blame them. Mainstream media and websites have published studies that say that birth control products have resulted in complications, sometimes even proving fatal. Blood clots, heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms, cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, even depression, are included in the warning menu. Many women have stepped forward and became the faces of caution.




In a press dialogue hosted by the pharmaceutical company Bayer in Singapore, media from Southeast Asia were invited to ask questions from, and listen to, world-renowned researchers like Prof. Johannes Bitzer from the European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health; Dr. Delfin Tan, head of the Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Section of St. Luke’s Medical Center Quezon City; and Michael Devoy, chief medical officer of Bayer Healthcare.




Can your contraceptive cause cancer?


Belief #1: Oral contraceptives (OC) can cause breast cancer


There’s a modest truth to this suspicion. Studies on breast cancer and OC use suggest that there can be an effect, although a fairly small one. Case control studies provide conflicting results, but most that include long-term data have found no increase in risk, meaning, if you are not at risk originally before OC use, taking the pill will not add to the risk of getting breast cancer. In studies when risk is shown to be increased, however, the effect disappears gradually during the course of 10 years after you stop OC use.




Belief #2: OC use leads to cervical cancer


The longer you use oral contraceptives, the higher the risks may be. Several studies have found that the risk of cervical cancer, which is in most cases caused by human papillomavirus infection (HPV), can be confounded by factors like sexual behavior and use of barrier contraceptives.




Belief #3: OC use decreases the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer


The bright spot is: The use of oral contraceptives can decrease your risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer. Data shows that the reduction in risk is greater in women who have been using the OCs for a longer period of time, even protecting her years after she stops taking them. Studies also show that risk for developing endometrial cancer is cut by 50 percent, as opposed to those who have never taken them. The longer you’ve been on the pill, the bigger the decrease in risk.








Myths and Facts: What to Believe


Myth: Hormonal contraceptives cause infertility


Fact: A published review of several studies conclude that one-year pregnancy rates of women after stopping contraceptives are similar to those who’ve never used pills at all.




Myth: Natural methods like fertility awareness is as effective as modern contraceptives


Fact: Not true. For example, the coil has a 99 percent success rate in preventing contraception, but the typical use of natural methods is only at 76 percent.




Myth: There are no adverse affects to using modern contraceptives.


Fact: Almost all contraceptives carry with them the risk of side effects. For pills, a rare (seven to 10 women for every 10,000) effect can be venous thromboembolism or VTE. Consider, too, that even in non-users, there is a four in 10,000 risk. Your risk is also upped by a lot of factors like age, obesity, family history, and other medical conditions associated with VTE like cancer. VTE may be fatal in one to two percent of the cases.






Myth: You gain weight when taking the pill




Fact: If you do, chuck it all to water weight. Studies have shown that there is no significant weight gain with the use of pills; and moderate weight gain is to be expected by most women as they age, which some may have wrongly attributed to the use of the pill. In one study, 627 women treated with DSRP (30 mg ethinylestradiol, drospirenone, or 30 mg desogestrel) for 26 cycles did not show significant weight gain.


Myth: Hormonal contraceptives can cause acne.




Fact: Depends on which hormonal contraceptive you use. In one study, 22 percent of women discontinued use of copper IUD due to acne and oily skin; 11 percent of patients had acne after implants. Combined pills, however, improve skin by reducing inflammatory and non-inflammatory skin lesions.







Krizette Laureta Chu

Press Release
On the First Birthday Celebration of the 100 Millionth Baby


Philippines’ 100 Millionth Baby turns one


The symbolic 100 Millionth Baby celebrates her first birthday today, July 27, 2015.

Chonalyn Sentino from the National Capital Region turns one year old along with 99 other babies nationwide who marked the 100 million population of the country last year.

In the Philippines, the Philippine Statistical Authority (NSO, 2011) reported that 4,775 babies are born everyday. The country also continued to have the highest fertility rate in Asia at 3.1 children per woman, according to the 2010 National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).

For the First Birthday Celebration, the Commission on Population (POPCOM) together with the Department of Health (DOH), National Nutrition Council (NNC) and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will turn over the First Birthday Gift Pack which will contain essential items for the baby’s first 1000 days. 

PhilHealth's new limit on cataract surgeries 'anti-poor' – doctor

By Jee Y. Geronimo

But PhilHealth president Alex Padilla says the agency had to implement the limit – 10 patients a day, 50 patients a month – to prevent doctors from abusing the case rate system

MANILA, Philippines – Two doctors whose eye clinics are under investigation for questionable PhilHealth claims asked the agency to reconsider its new limit to the number of cataract surgeries doctors can claim benefits from.

"We really don't have anything against that but we do feel that it is anti-poor because if you put a cap on the number of surgeries that the doctor can perform in a day for example, that doctor will necessarily choose the ones who can pay," Dr Raymond Evangelista, owner of Quezon City Eye Center, told reporters on Thursday, July 23.

Ever since news broke out that some eye doctors are in cahoots with "syndicate-like seekers" who bring patients to clinics, PhilHealth has limited PhilHealth-accredited doctors to 10 cataract patients a day, and 50 patients a month.

Although Pacific Eye Institute owner Dr David Harold Gosiengfiao understands that the limit is a stopgap measure in light of recent events, he said a lot of doctors are actually complaining about it.

"What about the 51st patient, the 52nd patient? What will happen to them? If I have 10 paying patients and then one PhilHealth no-balance billing patient, then I will schedule the 10 first," he said on Thursday, July 23, during the 3rd Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the questionable PhilHealth claims.

Evangelista agreed: "If the cap is 10, and you have 15 patients to do, of course you will [choose] the 10 that can pay the most. I think [the limit is] discriminatory – it's my opinion."

But PhilHealth president Alex Padilla reiterated that the limit was implemented to prevent abuse in claiming benefits for cataract procedures. (READ: PhilHealth scam: Eye doctors deny fraud allegations)

PhilHealth's case rate for cataract removal amounts to P16,000 ($352.42)* per eye. Based on the investigation, seekers can get as much as P2,000/eye ($44.05) from surgeons, and P6,300/eye ($138.76) from the eye center in exchange for bringing patients.

Padilla said the limit is not "anti-poor" because cataract patients do not necessarily have to always go to eye centers.

"We have 100 accredited eye centers, but practically all our hospital institutions can also do the procedure, so you're talking about more than 1,500 institutions," he told reporters.

PhilHealth is investigating top 10 ambulatory surgical centers (including Quezon City Eye Center and Pacific Eye Institute) claiming for cataract procedures after they discovered a "very conspicuous rise" in claims which also coincided with complaints from patients.

Removal of cataracts ranked 4th among the top conditions and procedures PhilHealth paid for in 2014. This is equivalent to P3.7 billion ($81.55 million) out of the P78-billion ($1.72 billion) total benefit payments that year. –

On being gay and Muslim

By Mark Z. Saludes

This is the story of Kris, a gay Muslim from a tribe of warriors in Mindanao

Updated 12:06 PM, Jul 24, 2015

MANILA, Philippines – “I was born a Muslim. But I also believe, that since birth, I am gay,” said Kris*, a gay Muslim.

When Kris decided to leave Zamboanga City for Metro Manila to pursue his studies at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, he was fully aware of his sexual orientation. He likes men, regardless of their religion and political beliefs.

“Since I was a kid, I knew something is different in me. I liked things that my father would forbid me to do, like playing with dolls, colorful dresses, and making friends with girls in our village," Kris recalled. "My parents wanted me to become an Imam, to preach the words of Allah. But I chose to become what I wanted to be."

When he entered UP, nobody knew him. Nobody knew he is Muslim, nobody knew he is gay. He said he feared being discriminated in what he perceived to be a Christian-dominated community.

“I was afraid of being judged because of my religion and of my gender,” he added.

The capital sin

It was Kris’ second year in college when he first engaged in a same-sex relationship. He felt that he began defying and denying his religion then. During that relationship, Kris did not practice Islam for almost two years.

He then had his first sexual experience with his non-Muslim boyfriend.

“I never told my first boyfriend I was a Muslim. I was worried telling him the truth will harm our affair," Kris admitted. "I didn’t observe Ramadan and never went to fasting. I did my prayers when I was alone, but never when I was with him or with my friends. The only thing that I couldn’t really do is to eat pork."

Despite of his "defiance" to his religion, he still hid deep in his closet, afraid that his family and the Muslim community would reject him.

“I cannot come out. I won’t. Our family belongs to an ethnic group in Mindanao, which is known to be machos, a tribe of warriors, and servants of Allah. They will never accept me. My fear hinders me from coming out and being free,” Kris explained.

Courage, acceptance

Kris then took a step back to reaffirm his faith. He read the Qur’an again, searching for the word of God, which he believed will give him the strength to overcome his fears and inhibitions.

He joined his brothers and sisters in fasting during the month of Ramadan to reinvigorate. He is practicing Islam again not to be a heterosexual man, but to find courage to come out.

“Islam is not the only religion that denounces homosexuality, even the Catholic Church, Iglesia ni Cristo, the Buddhist and other religious institutions,” said NurAinee Lim Ahmad, administrator of the Sarang Bangun Learning Center, an Islamic school in Zamboanga.

“Homosexuality was actually seen as a psychological problem decades ago. From a religious point of view, both the Qur’an and the Bible only states two kinds of human beings: male and female,” Ahmad continued.

Kris remembers every word of the Qur’an, which tells how Allah created men and women - a story that he once doubted to be true, asking God why he was born in a wrong body.

“If you will say that you are a man trapped in a woman’s body, you are insulting Allah," said Ahmad. "God created you as a male, but you think he made a mistake of creating you otherwise. As human beings, we don’t have the right to judge. But we also have the right not to agree in that kind of lifestyle,”

Political, ethnic restrictions

Aside from his religion, Kris often ponders over his ethnic roots. He belongs to a clan in the Southern Philippines, which he thinks would never allow homosexuality.

He is a Tausug.

“There are 13 ethnic Moro divisions in the Philippines. Most of these tribes are warrior clans. They have their own political structure and tribal culture," explained Japy Silapan, program Manager of Rare Philippines, a Southern Philippines-based non-governmental organization working on environmental development.

"Aside from following the teachings of Islam and the Islamic law, these ethnic groups have a strong policy and decree regarding homosexuality,” Silapan added. “We seldom hear of a gay Muslim going to an LGBT event and confess his choice of gender. It is because they respect their roots aside of their respect of Islam."

However, not all ethnic groups that are primarily Muslim are religious. There is something in religion that is deeply rooted in culture and tribal laws.

Kris came from an ethnic minority that is still in its height of ultra-conservatism and feudalism, a culture which held him back from avowing his gender inclination. However, a radical university like UP contributed a lot to his ideology and beliefs; a change that took him years before getting enough courage to chase.

Taking the leap

The gay community respects religion and its teachings, according to Morphy Red, chairperson of the LGBT rights group Kapederasyon. He added that churches should also respect a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

“We should come out and let them see who we are. Prove to them that we deserve acceptance, that we are equal and we have rights, too. The state and the religion must respect every human being regardless of gender, age and beliefs,” Red argued.

Kris took the first step and let himself be exposed to a world he was trying to hide from his family, his religion, and his roots. In June 2015, he finally joined his first Pride March in Luneta.

“It was my first try to be in public as gay. However, no one knows me in that event. But the moment I stepped in that park to celebrate the Pride Month, I know I will have the courage to face my family and my religion in the coming days,” said Kris.

Kris hopes to someday achieve the happiness that comes with being accepted. By the end of the year, he plans to go back to his roots for a new journey in his life as a gay Muslim.

“I will try my best to explain myself to my family. I know it is hard for them to accept but I believe in the goodness of my religion," said Kris.

"Islam is a religion that is forgiving and considerate. I am not sure what will happen the moment I publicly declare myself as gay but I will take my chances rather than forever be in the darkness of my own closet," he concluded. –

*Kris is not his real name. The subject chose not to reveal his real name for privacy and security reasons.


THE Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) is actively involving the elderly in the development of a communications plan to determine what works best for senior citizens.

The PhilHealth, through its Corporate Marketing Department, recently conducted a consultation meeting with representatives of various senior citizen organizations at its headquarters in Pasig City to determine the most effective way to reach senior citizens and enable them to avail of the health firm’s programs and services.

Inputs gathered from the meeting will be used in determining the most effective way to enable senior citizens to take advantage of PhilHealth’s programs and services. A pre-test will be conducted across the country to ensure the success of the communication plan on a national scale.

A PERSON between the ages of 15 and 24 around the world is infected with the HIV every 14 seconds. Or, about 4 cases every minute. Almost 4 million children have HIV infection and more than thirteen million children today are orphans because of AIDS. In the Philippines, there were 22,527 living with HIV/AIDS as of December 2014.

Globally, there are 42 million people living with HIV today, up from 40 million in year 2001, and mostly among young people (15-49). Majority of these live in the poorest countries around the globe. 

In 1981, Kaposi Sacrcoma and pneumocytes were found among homosexuals in New York and California, which gave rise to the name GRID (gay-related immune deficiency. Today, it is clear that these conditions were AIDs.

Although thought to have started in the 1980s, HIV infection, in retrospect, began 56 years ago this year. In 1959, a man died of a mysterious illness in Africa, which now appears to be AIDs. 

Data for year 2013 alone shows the death rates from AIDS in the following countries: the highest, Nigeria, 209,800; South Africa, 195,700; India, 127,200; Indonesia, 29,100; Thailand, 18,400; USA, about 15,000; Germany, 400; Philippines, 300. 

Today, more than 1.2 million people in the USA are living with HIV infection, 14 percent of them don’t even know it. In the Philippines, between 1984 to 2014, there were 22,527 reported cases of HIV infection, 93.2 percent (20,994) from sexual intercourse, 4.7 percent (1,068) from contaminated needles among drug users, 0.3 percent ((67) from mother-to-child transmission, <0.1 (20) percent from contaminated blood transfusion and accidental needle prick, 1.7 percent unknown mode. Twenty percent of all HIV/AIDS victims in the Philippines were overseas workers (domestic help, seafarers, etc.)

What is AIDS and what is HIV? 

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and HIV means Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the agent responsible for the disease. Most of those infected with HIV would develop AIDS within 12-15 years from the time they were first infected, according to the World Health Organization.

How does the virus cause the disease?

HIV attacks the immune system of the infected person and destroys the CD4 cells (the “generals” in our immune system army), rendering the body’s “security force” without its “commanders,” weak and defenseless to fight off infections. When the immune system breaks down, opportunistic infections set in and the person develops serious and deadly infections and certain form of cancer, all complications of AIDS.

How is AIDS transmitted?

The virus can be transmitted through the following body fluids: blood, pre-ejaculate fluid, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk. There is no evidence that HIV is transmitted through sweat, tears, urine or saliva, since the concentration in these body fluids is so small. However, if, say the saliva is contaminated with blood from bleeding gums or a cut in the mouth of an AIDS patient, that saliva can transmit HIV. Kissing, in this situation, is risky.

Can HIV enter the skin?

No, the virus cannot penetrate the skin, unless the skin is cut or broken, in which case transmission becomes possible. Shaking hands with an infected person is safe. The virus cannot be transmitted through the air by sneezing or coughing either. These are the reasons why casual contact with people with HIV infection is absolutely not dangerous. The widespread misinformation and ignorance have led to unnecessary fear in people’s mind and the added emotional suffering on the part of victims of AIDS.

How does HIV enter the body?

The virus enters the bloodstream through mucous membranes, like the lining of the rectum, the walls of the vagina, the urethra (passage channel of the penis), nose, mouth and throat, or by intravenous transfusion of any infected fluid, like blood, plasma, etc., or use of a contaminated needle. The virus must get into the blood stream to cause AIDS. The most common mode is sexual intercourse with a person with HIV.

Can one get HIV through oral sex?

Most definitely, especially the person giving the oral sex, since she/he is exposed to pre-ejaculate fluid, semen, or vaginal secretions and menstrual blood. If there is dental caries, open sores, cut or abrasions in the mouth or gums, the virus can enter the blood stream even faster. While the risk in vaginal or anal sex and in giving oral sex is higher than that of receiving oral sex, the latter form of contact is likewise risky and could be as deadly.

Can a woman transmit HIV to the baby in her womb?

Yes, maternal to fetal transmission is obviously the rule since their individual blood circulation is “connected” with each other.

Does bleach kill the HIV?

Yes, Chlorox (bleach), with high concentration of Chlorine, kills HIV. This is what “smart” or experienced drug addicts use to “sterilize” their needles and other paraphernalia used in “pushing” narcotics and other illegal drugs. However, there is no guarantee that this practice is effective, since the sterilization technique could be flawed. Bleach is not for oral intake, since it would kill the patient first before it kills the HIV.

Are condoms effective?

The use of latex condoms has been proven to be effective in the prevention of HIV infection and other sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs). However, condoms are known to develop holes or tears during rough handling or during the actual sex act, which will then allow disease transmission. The best practice is not to have sex with someone who could be exposed to HIV or other sexually-transmitted diseases.

Those with multiple partners have been shown to be at a greater risk, compared to partners who are both monogamous.

How soon does HIV infection lead to AIDS?

A blood test that is negative for HIV does not guarantee the person exposed to HIV that he/she will not develop AIDS. As a rule, it can take 5 to 15 years (after exposure) before people infected with HIV develop AIDS. An infected person may not even know he/she has HIV infection. This is the reason why everyone must be extra-cautious, because AIDS today is indeed a death sentence, one that is preceded by a horrible stage of existence, humiliation, pain and suffering, not only for the patient but for the entire family – all for a brief moment of pleasure or lust.

- Philip Chua

Survey finds less hungry Filipinos

THE number of Filipinos who experienced involuntary hunger dropped to its lowest point in a decade, the latest Social Weather Stations survey revealed on Monday.

The survey said about 2.8 million families or  12.7 percent of all the families in the Philippines experienced hunger at least once during the second quarter of 2015, which was the lowest since the 12-percent hunger rate in May 2005.

SWS said the hunger rate in the second quarter was down 0.8 percent of a point from the first quarter’s 13.5 percent (about 3 million families).

This was the third straight quarter in which the hunger numbers had dropped since 2014’s third quarter, SWS said.

The survey said 10.8 percent or about 2.4 million families experienced “moderate hunger” (experienced hunger “only once” or “a few times”), while 1.9 percent (431,000 families) said they experienced “severe hunger” (experienced hunger “often” or “always”).

“Moderate” and “severe” hunger had eased only slightly from the first quarter, SWS said.  

The June 2015 survey also marked the third quarter of easing after the hunger incidence in the country reached 22 percent in September 2014.

SWS said of those who experienced involuntary hunger, 10.8 percent (2.4 million families) experienced “moderate hunger” while 1.9 percent (431,000 families) experienced “severe hunger.”

The self-rated hunger in Metro Manila in the second quarter was the highest in three quarters at 18.3 percent (about 553,000 families). This was an increase of 5.6 points from the first quarter’s 12.7 percent (about 382,000 families).

In Balance Luzon, hunger dropped to 10.7 percent (about 1.1 million families) from 14.3 percent (about 1.4 million families) in the first quarter.      The hunger in Balance Luzon was at its lowest level since the 9.7 percent registered in 2011’s second quarter.

Hunger in the Visayas increased to 11.7 percent (about 499,000 families) from 11 percent (470,000 families) in March.

In Mindanao, hunger was at 14.3 percent, the same as in March and the lowest since the 13 percent registered in September 2011. Sandy Araneta

The annual average hunger under the Aquino administration was at 19.1 percent in 2010, at 19.9 percent in 2011 and 2012, at 19.5 percent in 2013 and at 18.3 percent in 2014.

SWS’ latest survey was conducted on June 5 to 8 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide.

The area estimates were weighted by the National Statistics Office’s medium-population projections for 2015 to obtain the national estimates.

The SWS survey questions about the family’s experience of hunger are directed to the household head.

 Sandy Araneta

Pout power against cancer

Recently, the Philippines was scandalized with the spread of social media photos showing an alleged 12-year-old actress in an act of self-indulgence. For Dr. Esther Ganzon, obstetrician-gynecologist at the Parañaque Medical Doctors and an Asian Hospital consultant, the news might not have come as a surprise since according to her, today, the average age of Filipinos losing their virginity is 13 years old and teens nowadays reportedly consider it abnormal if one is still untouched at 15.

Based on a study of 307 women in Ontario, the incidence of cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is actually highest at the young ages of 15 to 19. 
Indeed, patients of cervical cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Filipinas, with seven dying from it every day, according to the World Health Organization, has been getting younger and younger, Ganzon testifies. At her care, the youngest patient is an 11-year-old, who began as a prostitute at five.
“If a girl has been sexually active at 10 to 15 years old, she might have a full-blown cancer at 30,” she warns. “Younger women now are more adventurous when it comes to parties and risky sexual behavior.”
But HPV and cervical cancer are not exclusive to only prostitutes or the young, she clarifies. In fact, she has been treating a patient as old as 99, and many of her patients come from “highly educated” and high-income backgrounds. Cervical cancer is a risk for women regardless of race, age, lifestyle or socio-economic status.
Studies estimate that up to 80 percent of women will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives. While HPV is primarily transmitted via sexual intercourse, skin-to-skin genital contact is also a recognized mode of transmission. Ganzon says there are over 100 types of HPVs, and only 13 have been identified. Some patients, she says, has multiple types in one cervix.
“Up to 80 percent of women who turned positive in HPV infection got it from oral or digital (finger) sex,” she asserts.
It has been shown that 99.7 percent of cervical cancer patients are positive for HPV infection. Ganzon says over 500,000 Filipinas are diagnosed yearly, and two in three Filipinas diagnosed reportedly have the probability to die from it within five years. 
Ganzon frets that not even a healthy lifestyle can protect anyone from having cervical cancer, although risk factors include smoking, early first sex, multiple sexual partners, high parity, long-term pill use, and co-infection with another person with HPV. Cervical cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute, occurs when abnormal cells develop and spread in the cervix, the entrance between the vagina and the uterus. 
Ganzon enumerates the early symptoms of cervical cancer as follows: bleeding, discharge and pain. 
“In the early stage, there are no signs and symptoms. There are no missed menses or lost weight or appetite,” she precautions, adding that foul smell, even palpable from afar, and lost weight and appetite only show at stage three and above. Blood in the urine due to bleeding tumor is another advanced stage symptom. From a “glazed doughnut,” the cervix then turns to look like a bundle of dark prunes, broccoli or cauliflower if it has cancer, the doctor explains.
The WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (WHO-SAGE) on Immunization reiterates the importance of getting young girls protected through HPV immunization before their first exposure to HPV (i.e. before sexual contact), as young as nine years old. Screening is recommended starting age 21 to detect cervical abnormalities that precede actual cervical cancer.
To encourage women of all stripes to undergo vaccination and screening for early cervical cancer prevention and detection, pharmaceutical company GSK Philippines recently launched its partnership with cosmetics manufacturer VMV Hypoallergenics at a press event titled Put On Your Power Pout!. 
The partnership introduces a twist on spreading awareness: encouraging women to join the movement by wearing purple lipstick to show their support for the advocacy on cervical cancer prevention. 
“Cancer is quite a distant concept for women who are well. What might be more important to them is keeping up with the latest trends, especially in fashion and beauty. The lipstick is a woman’s own — when she wears it, she makes a statement about herself. Through this partnership with VMV, we hope to drive women to make a statement against cervical cancer,” says Mark Castillo, GSK product manager.
Jacklyn Remo, assistant marketing manager for VMV Hypoallergenics, supports the movement: “We are fully committed toward this partnership with GSK Philippines. At VMV Hypoallergenics, we promise the safest, most proven effective care on the planet — and that extends to beauty. This unique combination of science, wellness and beauty means we also strongly stand for advocacies that help women, their health and happiness.”

‘Climate change is every nation and every citizen’s business’

By Charissa Luci


Senator Loren Legarda yesterday cited the need for all nations to transcend territorial boundaries, political persuasions, and institutional affiliations to address climate change.


Legarda, who will join over 40 religious, political and environmental leaders from around the world at the Summit of the Consciences for the Climate on July 21 in Paris, France, said every citizen of the world should take action against climate change.


“Until we have taken it upon ourselves that the key to climate change adaptation and mitigation lies in each and every individual’s effort to be part of the solution, then the greatest challenge we will have to fight to combat the warming climate and its effects is our own indifference,” Legarda said.


Legarda, UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific pointed out that climate change is not only an environmental issue but also a phenomenon that affects our lives, livelihood and way of living.




“The world will continue to get warmer and with this comes long lasting changes in our climate system. Ordinary people have limited understanding of this, until they are painfully introduced to its impacts via extremely harsh weather events, flooding, declining fish catch, water scarcity, declining agricultural harvests, exacerbating health issues, extinction of animal and plant species, displacement of people, and even the demise of low-lying areas, among others,” she said.


Quoting the 2012 Climate Vulnerability Monitor, each year, Legarda said five million lives are lost due to climate change and the health impacts of its chief driver, fossil fuels.


“These realities compel nations to work together in arresting the increase of global temperature from reaching four degrees Celsius. Every time a disaster strikes and devastates our communities, we realize the risks and the challenges. We seek for solutions, we seek the opinion of experts; but the greater challenge is heeding the advice and taking the necessary action,” she stressed.




The senator said as climate change knows no boundaries, the only way forward is a united global action towards mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.


“Now is the time for all of us to unite on all these challenges, and to transcend territorial boundaries, political persuasions, and institutional affiliations. Let us all be champions of change for the future that we want. Let us all become victors instead of victims in this only living planet that we call home. The time to make that difference is now. Humanity’s future depends upon us. Let us be the change we seek,” Legarda said.


She noted, quoting the World Health Organization, the direct damage costs of climate change to health alone at between two and four billion dollars each year by 2030.



PH’s agriculture fails to boost GDP – OSHDP

By Bernie Magkilat


The Philippines has allocated more lands for agricultural development, even without a national land use act, compared to other ASEAN countries, but still the country’s agriculture contribution to the national gross domestic product is smaller compared to the rest in the region.


This was pointed out by the Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines Inc. (OSHDP) in a position paper it submitted to the Economic Development Cluster to justify its opposition to the proposed National Land Use Act (NLUA), which shall effectively classify all lands as agricultural and stop all forms of conversion of agricultural lands once enacted into law.



Agricultural Development

OSHDP has noted of an apparent disconnect in the country’s effort to protect the agriculture sector and this sector’s contribution to the economy.




OSHDP cited data from the ASEAN Statistics which showed that the Philippines has more than 12.578 million hectares of land devoted to agricultural development or 42.55 percent out of its 29.558 million total land area than other ASEAN countries. For instance, Thailand has allocated 20.400 million hectares or 39.76 percent of 51.312 million total land area while Malaysia has 7.916 million hectares for agriculture or 24 percent of total 32.984 million hectares. Vietnam has 9.409 million hectares devoted or 30.35 percent of its total land area of more than 31 million hectares.


“It appears that the Philippines is allocating more for agricultural development, even without a national land use act, compared to Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. Despite this, our country’s agricultural contribution to the national Gross Domestic Product is smaller compared to these nations,” OSHDP pointed out.




Agriculture’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product was last measured in 2013 at 11.23 percent, according to the World Bank.


The National Statistics Coordination Board also confirmed that the contribution of agriculture to the Philippine economy has fallen from a third to only a tenth as 2013 since 1946.




From a high of 29.7 percent of the Philippines’ gross GDP in 1946 when the country gained independence, the share of agriculture has dropped to only 11.1 percent last year, the NSCB reported. In contrast, NSCB reported that the farm sector accounts for a bigger share of Vietnam’s economy at 22.02 percent as of 2011, also down from 40.2 percent in 1985.


In relation to this, OSHDP pointed out the projected huge housing needs up to 2016 is 5,539,840 units and the estimated land requirements amount to about 43,726 hectares depending on the use of land resources,  whether horizontal and vertical development. Regions 4A, National Capital Region, and 3 account for more than 30 percent of the total housing needs.




OSHDP said the project housing requirements cannot be met once the proposed land use act is passed.


Of the total housing requirements, the private sector production target is about 4,037,504 million units while the National Housing Authority aims to provide housing for about 1,502,336 informal settlers.




OSHDP further pointed out that there are no housing projects in reclamation areas in the pipelines save for the initial discussions with the National Housing Authority for possible use of Philippine Reclamation Authority’s partially completed reclamation in the BASECO area.


As such, OSHDP maintains that there is a need to revisit the intended policy being introduced in the NLUA of protecting prime agricultural lands in view of the growing housing needs and other competing interests.




“The preliminary considerations will reveal that only 2.52 percent of the total area of the country was mapped as built-up areas. Unless a socially acceptable definition and policy is adopted, the proposed measure must be held in abeyance,” the group said.


OSHDP has proposed that the proposed NLUA should enshrine the “The highest and best use of the land in order to ensure productivity and optimized distribution of wealth.” OSHDP stressed this is consistent with the constitutional mandate of creation and development of national wealth.




The property developers have pushed for this statement because the proposed bill once enacted into law will forever ban land conversion, regardless of type of agricultural land.


OSHDP has also proposed that agricultural land conversion be allowed when the following conditions warrant: When the agricultural land ceases to be economically feasible and that the highest and best use principle dictates that the same be converted to non-agricultural uses; and when the locality has become urbanized  and the land will have a greater economic value for other purposes.




“OSHDP recognizes the need to protect prime agricultural lands for food security, we must also acknowledge the need to secure land for population growth to address the growing housing needs,” started the position paper.


According to OSHDP, the solution is not to make lands scarce but to adopt a more viable program to boost the agriculture sector and make agricultural lands productive. Thus, OSHDP said, it is imperative that sanctions be imposed on owners or rights holders of idle agricultural lands.


No compromise in anti-tobacco campaign – DOH


MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health (DOH) has ruled out the possibility of any compromise in its anti-tobacco campaign.


Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, DOH spokesman, said the health department would not heed the call of anti-tobacco advocates to just regulate the ingredients to make smoking less addictive.


He noted that several studies have shown that tobacco products contain carcinogenic substances.


“For the DOH, it’s totally for no smoking. There could be no compromise. It’s just yes or no, and the DOH is for no smoking,” Lee Suy stressed.


According to the World Health Organization, cigarettes contain 7,000 chemicals of which 70 are cancer-causing ingredients.


Chemicals in tobacco include nicotine, used as an insecticide and also the ingredient that makes the product addictive; tar, a material used for paving roads; formaldehyde, an embalming fluid; arsenic, used in rat poison; methanol, a main component in rocket fuel; naphthalene, used in mothballs; carbon monoxide, which is released in car exhausted fumes; benzene, found in rubber cement; butane, used in lighter fluid; toluene, used to manufacture paint; and lead, which is used in batteries.



Population and Development (PopDev) Integration - Brief Description

Population and Development (PopDev) Integration is defined as the explicit consideration and integration of population dynamics and dimensions in the critical steps  of any development initiative, such as plan and program development, policy formulation, database management and utilization, and other efforts that aim to improve, in a sustainable manner, the development conditions of the people and the locality in which they live.

In general, the program aims to contribute to the policies and the programs that will help the government attain a well-managed population and well-planned families, resulting in population outcomes that facilitate sustainable socioeconomic and human development.

Gender and Development - Definition

Gender and Development (GAD) refers to the development perspective and process that is participatory and empowering, equitable, sustainable, free from violence, respectful of human rights, supportive of self-determination and actualization of human potentials. It seeks to achieve gender equality as a fundamental value that should be reflected in development choices and contends that women are active agents of development, not just passive recipients of development.

Adolescent Health and Youth Development (AHYD) Program - Brief Description

The Adolescent Health and Youth Development (AHYD) Program of the PPMP continues to pursue the overall objective of contributing to the improvement and promoting of the total well-being of young people. the program aims to reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancies, early sexual involvement, early marriages, and other reproductive health problems such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS, among others. The adolescents and youth of today face various issues that have negative implications on their growth and development. Some of these key issues about their sexual and reproductive health. 

Responsible Parenthood - Family Planning (RP-FP) Program - Brief Description

The Responsible Parenthood (RP), Reproductive Health (RH) and the Family Planning (FP) program component of the PPMP aims to help couples, parents and individuals to achieve their desired timing, spacing and number of children and to contribute to the improvement of their Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) status.

The key strategy for RP-FP program component is guided primarily by DOH Administrative Order 2012-009, which provides for the National Strategy towards Reducing the Unmet Need for Modern Family Planning. This strategy is integrated in the implementation of the Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) Program and the Responsible Parenthood Program.

Suicide the third leading cause of death among the young

Mental illness is an epidemic of this generation, scoring worse than cardiovascular and neurological diseases and cancer. A Mental Health Bill may help people realize just how urgent the problem is.

As the moving force behind the Citizens’ Network for Psychosocial Response (CNETPSR), a loose multisector coalition of mental health professionals and NGOs engaged in psychosocial interventions, Dr. June Pagaduan-Lopez, a noted psychiatrist, professor of psychiatry, and stress and trauma expert, was among the first volunteers to hit Tacloban in January 2014.


It was a National Commission on Culture and the Arts-supported effort to process the survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” and to help them come to terms with what they had just gone through.


“Post-‘Yolanda,’ an international NGO found psychiatric patients living in cages, who had been left there during the calamity,” she recounts.


“The families didn’t know what to do, and had been advised to cage them, or they may be liable for any harm caused. All that misinformation, misconception and lack of proper services drives the poor families and patients to a level of chronicity that becomes acceptable to the community, so mental illness is set aside as something to be ashamed of.”

A video made by The Guardian documented this scenario, which was, as Pagaduan-Lopez says, “like a scene from the medieval ages.” 

She is also one of the authors of the proposed Mental Health Bill, an initiative of the Philippine Psychiatric Association (PPA), which hopes to finally give mental health in the Philippines the attention—and resources—it deserves, as a way to protect the rights of the mentally ill.

There have been no less than 16 bills crafted under various administrations through the years, Pagaduan-Lopez reveals, all focused on the creation of a Philippine Mental Health Council as part of the executive branch. The Philippines has no laws covering mental health.


“This new version is more rights-based than any previous incarnation,” Pagaduan-Lopez says.

As opposed to a public health approach, which is concerned with determining causes of diseases and decreasing incidence, a rights-based approach “focuses on the obligation of the state to provide sufficient, adequate healthcare as a basic human right,” she says.

In other words, it is the government’s job to provide access to healthcare, quality of life, and freedom from any cruel or degrading treatment—like being locked in a cage.

As Pagaduan-Lopez stated in a speech before the Asean Federation for Psychiatrists and Mental Health in November 2014, “Abuse and ill treatment in health-care settings, be it in hospitals, hospices or prison clinics, are not a new phenomenon. Everywhere discrimination and stigma constitute a failure to respect human dignity and equality by devaluing those affected, often exacerbating the inequalities already experienced by those vulnerable and marginalized groups, abuse is most likely to happen.”

A 35-year veteran of the profession, Pagaduan-Lopez has seen the vast range of mental illnesses—from the trauma of calamity and abuse victims to the depression that pushes many to end their lives.

It is an epidemic of the generation, she agrees. “Global statistics show that in terms of DALY (disability-adjusted life year, a measure of overall disease burden, or the extent to which a specific disease causes disabilities), mental disorders score worse than cardiovascular and neurological diseases and cancer.”


According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), every year a million people commit suicide, which is the third leading cause of death among young people worldwide. 

“We’re seeing more suicides among adolescents, as well as other self-destructive and high-risk behavior, like drinking, promiscuity, drugs, an inimical lifestyle,” Pagaduan-Lopez says.

“Yet there remains a tendency not to talk about it, as mental illness in general is stigmatized and negatively influences your other chances in life, your work, your hireability. There is fear of being talked about, of being blamed, and suspicion from others. That is torture for families.”

A lot of successful suicides are also now based on genetically determined psychological disorders, Pagaduan-Lopez adds, a fact that compounds the stigma.

The proposed bill espouses a “least restrictive alternative,” which includes a community component—a tall order in a country where basic health services have yet to be addressed in some barangays.

“Many hospitals don’t have psychiatric units, much less outpatient care,” Pagaduan-Lopez says. “There are about 600 board-certified psychiatrists registered with the PPA for a country of 100 million people, most of them in cities. People end up languishing in the one and only state hospital in the country because relatives don’t want to bring them out. Meanwhile, there is a flourishing business in unaccredited halfway homes.”


- By:


Did you know: Filipino youth with HIV


A total of 650 Filipino youth aged 15 to 24 years old were found positive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from January to April 2015.

In April alone, the Department of Health recorded 166 HIV cases in the same age bracket.


Marielle Medina, Inquirer Research


Press Release
Commission on Population
On the Occasion of World Population Day 2015

The Commission on Population (POPCOM) joins UNFPA and other National Government Agencies in the celebration of World Population Day 2015.

With the theme “Dignity and Protection of Vulnerable Populations in Emergencies,” this year’s event focuses on addressing the reproductive health rights and needs of women, children and young people during emergency and disaster situations.

PhilHealth scam: Eye doctors deny fraud allegations

By Jee Y. Geronimo

Can a doctor with a suspended PhilHealth accreditation still perform cataract surgeries? Apparently yes – at least in one clinic in Metro Manila.


MANILA, Philippines – Two eye doctors from the Pacific Eye Institute have denied the fraud allegations hurled at them by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).


Dr Christopher Barasi and Dr Bryan Bernard Ong Kian Koc made the denial at the 2nd Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on questionable PhilHealth claims on Wednesday, July 8.


PhilHealth is investigating top 10 ambulatory surgical centers – including Pacific Eye – claiming for cataract procedures after it discovered a "very conspicuous rise" in claims which also coincided with complaints from patients.


Their audit findings revealed that Barasi performed a cataract surgery on a patient despite his suspended PhilHealth accreditation. His co-surgeon, Ong, was the one who signed the claim forms.


During the Senate hearing, Pacific Eye owner Dr David Gosiengfiao claimed that PhilHealth gave Barasi permission to operate as long as he was co-managed by Ong. 

PhilHealth president Alex Padilla denied the claim, prompting Gosiengfiao to admit that the permission was given through "verbal communication."


But regardless if Barasi had permission or not, Senator Teofisto Guingona III said the patient's affidavit gave no indication that Pacific Eye had informed her of the status of Barasi's PhilHealth accreditation.


The patient also claimed that Ong was not in the operating room when Barasi performed the cataract procedure – an allegation that the latter "strongly denied."


"There was never any time I do surgery without [Ong]," Barasi told senators.


But Guingona shot back: "There are some affidavits here and your name keeps popping up. There's a saying: When there's smoke, there's fire."


P40 million in 2 years?


Ong was also grilled by senators for allegedly performing up to 3,023 operations in just two years as a PhilHealth-accredited doctor. According to PhilHealth, his claims amounted to around P39 million ($862,660.46):


  • Pacific Eye Institute-Makati - P36 million ($796,144.34)
  • Pacific Eye Institute-Laguna - P2.4 million ($53,076.29)
  • Chinese General Hospital - P700,000 ($15,480.58)
  • Eye Wellness Correction Center - P129,000 ($2,852.85)
  • Manila Adventist Medical Center - P13,000 ($287.497)


"For such a young doctor, you certainly are very prolific," Guingona told Ong.


Ong denied any affiliations with Manila Adventist Medical Center. He also corrected PhilHealth's figures.


Citing his census, Ong said from November 2013 to May 2015, "we've done 2,727 cases, [and] some of these cases I've personally done."


"If Dr Barasi is correct with 2,727 operations in 19 months, that would total to 144 [operations per month]," Padilla pointed out.


But Barasi said this is not "statistically impossible."


"All of the ophthalmologist here would know that not all of these are very difficult or time-consuming surgeries. If you're efficient enough, especially if you're co-managing, it amounts to around 10 to 15 minutes per eye. The lasers, [we] can do it in a span of 5 to 7 minutes," he explained.


In fact, from March 2014 to December 2014, the two did 705 cataract surgeries, which translates to 70.5 surgeries a month, 17.6 a week, and 3 a day.


But since PhilHealth started its probe into the "scam," it has already limited to 50 patients per month the number of cataract surgeries a doctor can claim with PhilHealth.


Removal of cataracts ranked 4th among the top conditions and procedures PhilHealth paid for in 2014. This is equivalent to P3.7 billion ($81.70 million) out of the P78-billion ($1.72 billion) total benefit payments that year. –

Senators told of botched eye surgeries, PhilHealth fraud



One senior citizen lost his right eye while another ended up blind after undergoing cataract operations that were either unnecessary or not properly followed through by their doctors.

And yet their operations were fully paid for by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

And then there was the patient who complained that the eye doctor claiming payment from PhilHealth was not the same doctor who operated on her.

These were among the stories that came out at the second hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee that is looking into the suspicious claims that certain hospitals and clinics have filed with PhilHealth amounting to P2 billion, and other similar fraudulent transactions.

Cataract operations

The committee is looking in particular at PhilHealth claims involving cataract operations.

Romeo Fernando, a PhilHealth member, told the committee how he went to the Borough Medical Care Institute in 2012 which performed a cataract operation, first on his left eye, and three months after, on his left eye. He was told he did not have to return after the surgeries.

When he had trouble seeing properly, Fernando went to the Pacific Eye Institute. There, he underwent four laser treatments on the left eye. Doctors there told him they could do nothing more about his right eye. He was asked to shell out money for injections to improve his eyesight but he declined because he said he had no money for it.

Fernando said he then went to the Philippine General Hospital where doctors told him there that his iris had been pierced and damaged and that they could no longer do anything about it.

According to Dr. Robert Louie So, the PhilHealth vice president for internal audit, Fernando ended up blind in his right eye.

Laser treatments

Based on his claims data with PhilHealth, Fernando had cataract operations in 2012 in the right and left eyes. In 2014, there were claims for four laser treatments, two of which were said to be due to complications of cataract operations and done almost one month apart, according to So.

Fernando also underwent on March 6, 2014, a laser treatment for his right eye, which was already blind, said So.

“We believe that the operation was unnecessary because the eye was already blind and a laser operation was not needed,” So said.

The two laser treatments which were done one month apart on Fernando’s left eye, meanwhile, “raises a red flag,” as complications of cataract develop normally after five to six years, said So.

Dr. Ma. Dominga Padilla, Department of Health head executive staff and president of the Philippine Eye Bank, said laser treatment done too soon after a cataract operation was “dangerous for the patient” because the lens are not yet stable for a laser operation.

“In other words, it’s a scam. If your doctor tells you right after surgery to return for a laser operation because it’s something you don’t predict, it’s something you don’t want,” Padilla said.

And because this has become an “abused procedure,” PhilHealth now has a new guideline where it will not pay for claims for a laser operations if done six months after a cataract operation, she said.

Blind witness

Another witness, Bonifacio Martinez, who is now blind, had his cataracts removed through a free operation sponsored by a politician in his barangay (village). Martinez had his operation at the Borough Medical Care Institute in April 2013. The surgery was performed by a certain Dr. Ruby Reyes.

“After a few days, I noticed spots on my eyes that eventually blocked my sight,” Martinez said. His doctor gave him some medicine but this did not help.

His doctor then asked him to go to the University of Santo Tomas hospital where doctors told him his eyes had a fungal infection. But it was too late to do anything about it, he was told.

Martinez said Dr. Reyes made him sign papers that said Borough did not neglect him. She also gave him an envelope with P10,000 cash as “help.” He has not talked to or seen the doctor since.

Suicide rates around the world in one map

MANILA, Philippines - According to the first global report on suicide prevention published by World Health Organization (WHO) in 2014, more than 800,000 people die by suicide every year – around one person every 40 seconds.

RELATED: Someone commits suicide every 40 seconds

It also mentioned that among all regions, South-East Asia's estimated suicide rate is the highest.

"Most suicides in the world occur in the South-East Asia Region (39 percent of those in low- and middle-income countries in South-East Asia alone) with India accounting for the highest estimated number of suicides overall in 2012," the report said.

In the Western Pacific region where Philippines belongs, the estimated suicide rate in low- and middle-income countries is lower than the global average of 11.4 per 100 000 in 2012 with approximately 180,000 number of deaths.

Data from the National Statistics Office noted that in the Philippines, the suicide rate from 1984 to 2005 went up from 0.46 to seven out of every 200,000 men; up from 0.24 to two for every 200,000 women. While the figures might seem insignificant compared with those from neighboring countries that recorded the highest suicide rates, the increase in numbers is noticeably high.

It is a common misconception that suicides are a Western phenomena. The truth is, it is  a major global health problem that occurs in every part of the world.

According to WHO report, the European region, having six countries in the list of highest estimated suicide rates, is above the global average of 11.4 per 100 000 in 2012 while the African region remains close to the global average with 38 percent suicide rate increase in 2012. The American region suicide rate is generally lower than the other regions despite housing Guyana, which is the country with the highest estimated suicide rate for 2012 globally.

ARMM gets biggest slice of antipoverty dole-out


As it did in 2015, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will get the biggest slice of the P62.7-billion Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (or 4Ps) budget pie in 2016, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).


The ARMM, said to be the country’s poorest region, has a 4Ps allocation of P5,484,385,920 next year, the DSWD said in a report.


This year, the ARMM got more than P5.51 billion under the Aquino administration’s flagship poverty reduction program.


The other regions will get the following 4Ps allocations in 2016: Bicol, P4.76 billion; Zamboanga Peninsula, P4.18 billion; Eastern Visayas, P3.64 billion; Northern Mindanao, P3.61 billion; Caraga, P2.33 billion; and the Cordillera Administrative Region, P792.36 million, among others.

From 2011 to 2016, the 4Ps budget amounted to P294.62 billion, DSWD records showed.


The Aquino administration provided P22.6 billion for the program in 2011, followed by P39.4 billion in 2012, P45 billion in 2013, P62.6 in 2014, and P62.3 billion in 2015.

Between 2008 and 2010, the government poured nearly P20 billion to the program that provides conditional cash grants to the poorest Filipinos for the improvement of their health, nutrition and the education of children aged 18 and below.


The DSWD is the lead agency implementing the 4Ps, which also helps the government fulfill its commitments under the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of eradicating poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health care.

Malacañang has claimed that the program, which is patterned after similar conditional cash transfer schemes in some Latin American and African countries, has so far served more than 4.42 million indigent households nationwide.


Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma on Wednesday said the government will know if more families have been covered by the 4Ps in President Aquino’s last year in office when the initial results of the DSWD’s Listahanan project come out later this month.

The DSWD is conducting a second round of the National Housing Targeting System for Poverty Reduction aimed at determining which families are to be included in the program.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said the Listahanan “will help us determine who and where the poor are” after the assessment.


Jerry E. Esplanada



Leyte farmers train on modern methods

As part of SM Foundation’s support to communities in Leyte, the 2nd Farmer’s  Training Program or the Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan Program   was completed from  June 22-23 in Sta. Elena, Tacloban City.

The 12-week- hands-on training on modern farming technologies attended by 168 farmer participants culminated with a Harvest Festival & a graduation program attended by the participants, SM Foundation officials, departments of Social Welfare and Agriculture ,local government units  of the City.


Part of the training was teaching them simple book-keeping & marketing strategies to better guide them to achieve high daily income. Aside from these doable agricultural technologies, sessions on values formation, capability building & social entrepreneurship were likewise tackled during these sessions.


The farmers who participated  aside from those from Sta. Elena were from nearby barangays Sto. Nino, Kabalawan, Kamansihay, Bagakay, San Roque, Salvacion, Palanog&Calanipawan.  Farmers from Alang-alang which is about 40 minutes away sacrificed commuting to the site to avail of the training while 2 from Palo likewise braved the heat& expenses to commute to the demo farm.


Cristy Angeles, Program Director of the Foundation emphasized to the participants that SM is now gearing towards recovery programs gradually  weaning  typhoon victims  from dependence on relief goods.  Farmers are encouraged to apply the training most especially to those who have sufficient space for backyard farming &to those who till big agricultural farms.  This enables them to attain food security & therefore be self-sufficient.


At present, there are an abundance of jobs in the construction business in the City so that 60% of the trainees were women. One of the trainees, Magdalena Oquino, 38 years old, with 4 children trained in the KSK; while her husband is a construction worker in one of the projects of USAID.  She is planting sweet corn in a 1,000 sq. meter leased property.  Aside from that, she plants veggies in her backyard which she shares with her extended family.  She sells the harvested corn to a supplier of vegetables of SAVEMORE and happily tells us that she was able to enroll her 2nd daughter in the East Visayas State University with her earnings in time for school opening in June.  She hopes to continue planting corn which is in-season then shift to other products depending on the recommendation of the City agriculturist, Vicky Collantes. Siblings Daniel & Erwin Rellona together with a sister-in-law Minerva Rellonaare tenants of a 6-hectare property of a family who has allowed them to use the land after the devastation of their coconut plantation.  Recovery of the coconut may take years so they are doing corn planting & vegetable & fruit-farming until the coconut trees are fully recovered. They together with other farmers have formed an association so that they can deliver vegetables in bulk to supermarkets in Tacloban&Ormoc.


A Buyers Forum  was conducted which taught them the quality & quantity of their produce versus the demand of their market, price negotiations and the actual cost of transporting produce from farm to market. A market tour in SAVEMORE gave the participants an opportunity to study the quality standards set forth of fruits & vegetables in SM stalls..


The response of the program was overwhelming especially after testimonials from farmers who had trained in the 1st KSK training program held in Tanauan last year where 180 farmers from Tanauan, Palo, Tolosa, Dulag,  Babatngon& even Barugo which is about an hour away from the site participated in the program. Three property owners approached the Livelihood team of SM Foundation offering their farm lots as demonstration farms.  Still others are donating their properties to the Foundation for this program.  The team visited these farm lots for possible soil analysis prior to committing to launch another KSK program.


There have been other KSK programs in other areas affected by typhoon Yolanda:  Guiuan&Balangiga both in Eastern  Samar, Lambunao, Iloilo, Silay City &Toboso both in Negros Occidental, Borbon, Daanbantayan, Santa Fe, Bantayan Islands all in Cebu & Kalibo Aklan.


So far, this is the 90th KSK Training Harvest Festival & Graduation of the SM Foundation nationwide.

By MST News



2015 MDG poverty reduction goal may be met


The Philippines has expressed optimism that it would meet a number of its targets under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for this year, citing inroads in reducing poverty and making basic education more accessible.


In a report submitted to the United Nations Economic and Social Council recently, the government said “there is a medium probability that the incidence of income poverty will be reduced by half in 2015.”


“The Philippines is also likely to meet its target of universal access to primary education, as greater resources are being allocated to the education sector to address backlogs in terms of classrooms, teachers and books,” a summary of the country’s report further read.


According to the report, the country appears to be “on track” to meet the following MDG targets: providing universal access to primary education; providing educational opportunities for girls; reducing infant and under-five mortality; reversing the incidence of malaria; increasing tuberculosis detection and cure rates, and increasing the proportion of households with access to safe water supply.


However, the Philippines admitted it was “lagging behind” its peers in the achievement of its goals in six areas: poverty; elementary education, in terms of completion rate; gender equality, as regards to women’s political participation and the fact that boys are at a disadvantage in terms of participation in elementary- and secondary-level education; maternal mortality; access to reproductive health care and HIV/AIDS.


“With regard to gender, boys are at a disadvantage in terms of participation in elementary and secondary education, cohort survival rate and completion rate… More females enroll in tertiary education and that there is a wide disparity in terms of functional literacy between males and females, with the latter having the advantage,” the Philippine government said.


As for the health targets, “infant and under-five mortality rates have been considerably reduced and the targets will likely be achieved by 2015,” the government said.


“Morbidity and mortality rates associated with malaria improved, as the number of provinces declared to be malaria-free increased to 27 in 2012 from only 13 in 2004. Similarly, the incidence, prevalence and mortality rates associated with tuberculosis have declined considerably, although tuberculosis is still one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the country,” it added.


“However, the increase in the maternal mortality ratio indicates that the target of 52 deaths per 100,000 live births has a low probability of being met,” the government said.


Also, “the number of new cases of HIV has been increasing, although its prevalence is still less than 1 percent,” according to the report.
The government attributed its MDG accomplishments to “clearly defined institutional arrangements; supportive policies on development planning, investment programming, localization, financing, and monitoring mechanisms; programs and projects supporting the goals.”


Popcom calls for observance of 2015 World Population Day

By Ian Ocampo Flora


CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Commission on Population (Popcom) in Central Luzon is enjoining all government agencies, local government units, and other concerned organizations in Central Luzon in the celebration of the 2015 World Population Day.

A yearly event observed every July 11, the World Population Day (WPD) aims to increase the knowledge of everyone on issues directly and indirectly related to the rapid increase in the global population.

Themed "Dignity and Protection of Vulnerable Populations in Emergencies," the 2015 WPD focuses on women, children, and young people who comprise over three quarters of the over 50 million people.

The total global population has reached 7.17 billion today. Meanwhile, the Philippines is projected to be at more than 100 million this 2015, based on the 92.37 million headcount provided by the 2010 Census of the Philippine Statistics Authority.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), sectors of the world's population are forcibly displaced from their homes by conflict and disasters, much like other members of society. However, women, children and adolescents are also vulnerable to situations such as greater risk of abuse, sexual exploitation, violence, forced marriage and reproductive health-related illnesses due to lack of protection and an absence of delivery to address their needs.

"These lead to high infant and maternal mortality rates, increase of teenage pregnancy cases, and high incidence of sexually transmitted infections including HIV and AIDS. In times of emergencies and other crises, access to basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric services and family planning must be provided. Services to treat survivors of gender-based violence must also be sufficient. Furthermore, care for and prevention of sexually transmitted infections must exist," the agency said in a statement.

Established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989, WPD was inspired by the public interest in Five Billion Day on July 11, 1987, the estimated date on which the world's population reached a total of five billion people.

Popcom Region III also said that key messages of this year’s WPD include “dignity, safety, and reproductive health for all women and girls at all times” as well as “ no excuses, a life of a woman is precious, under any circumstance and at all times.”

Women and girls are more vulnerable in emergencies and have specific needs that are often ignored in crises. Securing their safety, dignity, and health ensures the well-being of families and communities. “Preparedness shall always be the key to handling emergencies. And when it comes to vulnerable populations in times of crises, addressing concerns on adolescent sexual and reproductive health as well as family planning shall help ensure that the critical needs of these groups which are at high risk in emergencies are not overlooked,” the statement added.

"Thus, we enjoin all partner agencies, local government units, civil society organizations, and other concerned groups to commemorate the 2015 WPD to ensure the dissemination of information and provision of services that are necessary not only to women, children, and young people, but to all sectors of the population," Popcom Region III added.

The 2015 WPD shall be observed in the Philippines, by the Commission on Population, other Government Agencies, Local Government Units, Non-Government Organizations, Media, and other groups through a series of drumbeating campaigns and activities, mirrored in all regions including Central Luzon.


Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 07, 2015.

Airports to have ‘all-gender’ toilets

By Benjie Vergara

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Monday said it will build communal toilets or all-gender restrooms this month at 41 commercial airports in the country that are under its supervision. CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio explained that the agency would install facility not only for male, female and person with disability (PWD), but will also provide gender-neutral bathrooms that will initially be built at the CAAP central office and eleven other airports namely in Busuanga, Butuan, Calbayog, Cauayan, Dipolog, Legazpi, Masbate, Naga, Pagadian, Puerto Princesa and Tuguegarao passenger terminal buildings.

Airports to have ‘all-gender’ toilets

By Benjie L. Vergara

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Monday said it will build communal toilets or all-gender restrooms this month at 41 commercial airports in the country that are under its supervision. CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio explained that the agency would install facility not only for male, female and person with disability (PWD), but will also provide gender-neutral bathrooms that will initially be built at the CAAP central office and eleven other airports namely in Busuanga, Butuan, Calbayog, Cauayan, Dipolog, Legazpi, Masbate, Naga, Pagadian, Puerto Princesa and Tuguegarao passenger terminal buildings.

Government urges parents to serve as disaster managers

MANILA, Philippines - Parents can serve as disaster managers and transform their families into mini-disaster teams, the government said yesterday.

It is important to educate every member of the family on the need to be prepared for emergencies as the country observes National Disaster Consciousness Month,  according to Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) spokesman Mina Marasigan.

“We encourage families to talk about disaster preparedness,” she said.

“It is important for families to be informed on disaster preparedness so that even the youngest member will know where to go and what to do in times of contingencies.

“Every family can serve as inspiration to our countrymen. They can serve as multiplier effect in promoting awareness.” 

“For this year, we highlight the importance of individual, family and community readiness,” Marasigan said.

This year’s national disaster consciousness month carries the theme “Pamilya at pamayanang handa, katuwang sa pag-unlad ng bansa(disaster-ready families and communities, partners in the country’s progress).”

In 1999, President Joseph Estrada issued Executive Order No. 137 declaring July of every year as “National Disaster Consciousness Month.”

The executive order aimed to give national government agencies and local governments ample time to implement their disaster awareness campaigns.

“It is also imperative to empower and reinforce the capacity of the disaster coordinating councils at all levels to ensure a coherent, integrated, proficient and responsive emergency management system in the country,” read the order.

Massive natural calamities have occurred in July, including the magnitude 7.8 Luzon earthquake in 1990.

The month also falls within the rainy season, which is usually characterized by floods and destructive cyclones.

The Metro Manila earthquake drill, which seeks to boost preparations for a magnitude 7.2 quake, will be held on July 30.

The government has launched, a website to encourage the public to join the exercise. 

Caravan in pouring rain

In Central Luzon, agencies of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) held yesterday a caravan in pouring rain to observe the 2015 National Disaster Consciousness Month (NDCM) to prepare the region for an earthquake and tsunami.

Contraceptive implants safe – DOH

By Sheila Crisostomo

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health (DOH) yesterday gave assurance that the contra- ceptive implants being used in its family planning program are safe and do not cause abortions, following the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC) on the implants.

In an ambush interview, Health Secretary Janette Garin said the implants Implanon and Implanon NXT have been certified by the Food and Drug Adminis- tration (FDA) as “not an abortifacient.”

“The mode of action is preventing ovulation, so it is not abortifacient,” she explained.

The implants are subdermal or inserted just under the skin of a woman’s upper arm, inhibiting the ovulation for three years.

The implants work by stopping the body from releasing an egg cell every month and by thickening the mucus in the cervix so that sperm cells cannot travel up to the woman’s egg cell. If a woman wants to get pregnant, the implant will simply be removed.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said in its Contraceptive Commodities for Women’s Health report in 2012 that contraceptive implants “con- sist of small, thin, flexible plastic rods, each about the size of a matchstick, that release a progestin hormone into the body.”

“They are safe, highly effective and quickly reversible long-acting progestin- only contraceptives that require little at- tention after insertion. Clients are satisfied with them because they are convenient to use, long-lasting and high effective,” the report added.

The Unicef also noted that the long- acting methods of implants are “more effective in practice than shorter acting methods, including oral contraceptives and injectables, because compliance and continuation rates are higher with methods that do not require regular action by the user.”

Under the reproductive health pro- gram of DOH, the agency will be distributing some 600,000 implants nationwide this year as part of its reproductive health programs.

But last week, the SC ordered the DOH to stop from procuring, selling, distributing, dispensing or administering, advertising and promoting the implants.

The high tribunal had also stopped the FDA from “granting any and all pending application for reproductive products and supplies, including contraceptive drugs and devices.”

The TRO was issued based on the peti- tion filed by the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines.

Garin said the DOH would abide by the SC decision “although we stand by our position that (the implants) are not abortifacient.”

“Our lawyers are drafting the answer now,” she added.

DOH: Over 10,000 HIV patients getting free treatment

By Mayen Jaymalin


MANILA, Philippines - Over 10,000 people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are getting free anti-retroviral therapy (ART) from the government.

Data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that a total of 10,207 people nationwide are undergoing ART in 22 treatment hubs nationwide.

Health officials noted that the number of those who are accessing free anti-retroviral drugs include both adult and pediatric patients. Last month alone, a total of 415 people with HIV started taking ART.

According to the DOH, those who underwent ART but have died or stopped treatment for various reasons were excluded from the list of beneficiaries.

Since January 1984 to May 2015, a total of 25,684 HIV cases have been reported in the country, with 1,214 deaths and 2,254 progressing into AIDS.

Health Secretary Janette Garin said yesterday that the government is still looking to enhance the delivery of HIV services to the public in line with their Hi5 (High Impact Breakthrough Strategies) program.

“Harmonious innovations for vulnerable populations, advocacy and intensified diagnostic treatment strategy (HIV-AIDS) will be used to increase the number of those counseled, screened, and tested against HIV,” Garin said in a statement.

Garin stressed the need to enhance coordination with private sector health providers and hospitals to control the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country.

Through the Hi5 program, the DOH hopes to reduce HIV/AIDS cases in the country by 40 percent.

DOH confirms MERS-CoV case in PH
By CNN Philippines Staff

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines second update) — The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Monday (July 6) the second case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) in the Philippines after a 36-year-old male foreigner from the Middle East tested positive of the virus.

According to the DOH, the patient was referred to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) last Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

The test results released at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday showed that the patient is showing a low viral load of MERS-CoV.

DOH spokesperson Lyndon Lee-Suy said the patient was already on the 14th day of the incubation period of the virus when he was tested. This means that the risk of transmission to other passengers in the same flight as the patient is lower.

The DOH is monitoring eight people who had close contact with the patient. One of them showed symptoms of cough and is also confined at the RITM, while the rest are quarantined at home.

MERS symptoms are similar to the symptoms of flu, such as fever with cough and colds.

Health Secretary Janet Garin said there is no need to panic as there has been no record of community transmission of MERS.

Garin added that those who are at risk of contracting the virus are hospital workers and household members with close and repeated contact with the patient.

The first MERS-CoV case in the country was of a pregnant Filipina nurse. She was tested in February and has recovered.

‘PH to benefit from demographic dividends’

By Mayvelin U. Caraballo


Fitch cites strong labor force growth, positive youth dependency ratios

Divergent demographic trends in Emerging Asia (EM Asia) affect the countries’ long-term sovereign rating trajectories, debt watcher Fitch Ratings said, pointing out that the Philippines is among the potential beneficiaries of future demographic dividends.

In its “Asia-Pacific Sovereigns Chart of the Month” report, Fitch provides an illustration of which EM Asia sovereigns are most likely to benefit from supportive demographic profiles.

The report said a rapid rise in labor force can ultimately translate into bigger growth in gross domestic product (GDP), particularly if combined with improving productivity.

High ratios of youth dependency can be taken as a leading indicator of labor force growth as it represents a future stock of individuals that will enter the labor force, it said.

Similarly, low female participation rates represent an untapped source of future labor force expansion even in the absence of a growing population base, the report said.

“By these metrics, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Mongolia stand out positively because of their strong labor-force growth rates and high youth dependency ratios,” it said.

India was mentioned for its low female participation rate, while Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand and China stand out negatively with some of the lowest labor force growth rates and youth dependency ratios.

Sri Lanka is the only country to report a declining labor force, a figure influenced by net migration trends, it said.

Meanwhile, Fitch said the fiscal positions of Thailand, Sri Lanka, China and Vietnam are mostly likely to be hurt by adverse demographic trends.

The ratings agency regards high old-age dependency ratios as one of the most important indicators of the fiscal costs of ageing.

“One of the most significant contributors to ageing-related costs is government health expenditure,” it said.

In addition, the report said government debt levels also provide an indication of which sovereigns have more room to accommodate the fiscal costs of ageing.

“Thailand, Sri Lanka, China and Vietnam stand out with the highest old-age dependency ratios in the region,” the report said.

Government health expenditures in Thailand, China and Vietnam have increased, relative to total government expenditures, to account for evolving demographic trends, with perhaps more to come, it said.

Health expenditures in Sri Lanka are seen low relative to peers, and have actually decreased—a trend, which the report said, may need to reverse to address its adverse demographic profile.

Sri Lanka and China have less fiscal headroom to address the impact of ageing, whereas Thailand holds the lowest government debt stock, Fitch added.

Continuing challenges to RH Law

By Rina Jimenez-David 


Decidedly below the radar, drowned out by the noise and clamor of political news, is the report that the Supreme Court has temporarily stopped the Department of Health from distributing and selling implants.


The high court has issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the DOH from “procuring, selling, distributing, dispensing or administering, advertising and promoting the hormonal contraceptive ‘Implanon’ and ‘Implanon NXT’.”


The implants, thin rods inserted under the skin, release hormones that prevent pregnancy for up to three years.


The Supreme Court issued the TRO a year after ruling that the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law is constitutional. But the TRO against the implants, which were previously certified by the Food and Drug Administration, serves to further delay the full implementation of the RH Law, which to this day faces serious obstacles.


DOH officials, for instance, are finding that many women prefer the implants for use as their primary family planning method, fast catching up with the popularity of the contraceptive pill. A factor in its broad acceptance, I would think, is convenience, since a woman using the implant need not worry about an unplanned pregnancy for three years—giving her time to recover from the rigors of pregnancy and delivery while enabling her to look after a child in the most crucial first three years of life.


Junice Melgar, executive director of the community-based women’s health organization Likhaan, and quoted by Rappler, said the TRO was “totally unexpected.” She added: “A lot of people are very worried. They’re asking: Are contraceptives now illegal? Are we no longer allowed to use implants?”


The TRO was issued by the second division of the Supreme Court, acting on a complaint filed by the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines, the same group that questioned the constitutionality of the RH Law.


                                                                       * * *


The continuing challenges to the RH Law and the DOH’s plans to roll out its full implementation merely illustrate how, despite the law’s passage through Congress and its scrutiny by the Supreme Court, women—and men—continue to face obstacles to the full enjoyment of their reproductive rights. And if women are deprived of their right to plan and manage their families, then their children are likewise deprived of their right to live healthy, productive and fulfilling lives.

Recently, I joined a group of women journalists at a dinner with representatives of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and its local partner, EnGenderRights Inc.


Payal Shah, CRR senior legal adviser for Asia, said they were in the country to follow up on the Philippine government’s response to the findings of the inquiry initiated by Cedaw (the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women) on the violation of women’s rights that occurred as a result of government restrictions on women’s reproductive rights.


The findings were released before the enactment of the RH Law, but Clara Rita Padilla of EnGenderRights says they continue to find examples of reproductive rights violations even with the law in place.


                                                                      * * *


By way of background, 15 years ago the city government of Manila headed by then Mayor (and now Rep.) Lito Atienza issued Executive Order No. 003 that declared Manila a “pro-life city.” The order effectively banned the distribution of modern methods of contraception with the exception of so-called natural family planning.

As a consequence, the women of Manila, a majority of whom belong to the poorest sectors, were deprived of free family planning services and supplies from city government health centers. Beyond this, in the 15 years that the EO was in effect (or tolerated), no new training was conducted on family planning service delivery among government health personnel, particularly the insertion of IUDs and the performance of tubal ligations and vasectomies which are the responsibility of trained health personnel.


In a report, the CRR said that as a consequence of the EO, “women and girls in Manila … experienced serious risks to their health and lives due to unwanted and unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortions.”


The request for a special inquiry was filed with Cedaw in 2008, and in 2012 a Cedaw team visited the country, “the first such inquiry conducted by the Cedaw committee in Asia and on contraceptive access.”


                                                                     * * *


Last April, the Cedaw committee released “a groundbreaking report” finding the Philippine government (the national government and not just Manila) “responsible for grave and systematic reproductive rights violations as a result of EO 003 and other restrictive measures.”


The wonder is that not only was the Cedaw report ignored by local officials, but also that very few Filipinos seemed to be disturbed by the findings.


During their current visit, the women from CRR and EnGenderRights, in a meeting with Manila officials, at least managed to wangle an “apology” from the acting city health officer. Dr. Benjamin Yson recognized the wrong done to the women of Manila in the last 15 years, but said he “sees no need” to revoke prior local policies that restricted access to modern contraceptives.” It’s worth noting that despite the passage of the RH Law, other local government units (Sorsogon City is an example) have implemented their own ordinances limiting access and information on family planning.


The passage of the RH Law has been touted as a “victory” for Filipino women and their reproductive rights. But the TRO on implants and the continuing stigmatization of family planning by local governments make us wonder if the law has not instead become a pyrrhic victory.


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The Commission on Population (POPCOM) conducted the first National Summit on Internal Migration on June 25, 2015 at Century Park Hotel Manila. With the theme,Filipinos on the Move, the Summit highlighted 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.

DOH: 748 new HIV cases recorded in May

By Sheila Crisostomo

MANILA, Philippines - In May, the Department of Health (DOH) registered a record high 748 new cases of HIV/AIDS, bringing the total number this year to 3,157.

“This is 51 percent higher compared to the same period last year (495 cases) and was the highest number of cases reported since 1984,” the DOH said in its Philippine HIV/AIDS Registry.

There were 29 deaths in May.

Of the 748 cases, 41 were full-blown AIDS at the time of reporting. A total of 717 patients were male.

According to the DOH, 409 of the cases belonged to the 25-34 age group while 207 came from 15-24 age bracket; 121 from 35-49 age bracket and 11 were above 50 years.

The DOH noted that 728 of the patients got infected through sexual contact, 86 percent of whom were males who had sex with males (MSM). The other 20 were drug users who shared contaminated needles.

The DOH undertook the National Voluntary Testing Program for HIV/AIDS in May to encourage those at risk to be tested and seek treatment.

The DOH gave assurance that free testing is available in the agency’s testing enters across the country all year round.

 100Mth Pinoy - Fabella Hospital
A close watch by the officials of the Commission on Population (POPCOM), together with the Department of Health (DOH) for the birth of the 100 millionth baby on July 27, 2014 saw the birth of a baby girl at 12:35 a.m at the Dr. Jose Fabella Hospital.
The baby girl’s mother, identified as Dailin Duras Cabigayan,  finally gave birth at 12:35 am after going through labor pains for several hours, which later paved the way for a 2.8 kilos and 45 centimeter baby girl, tagged as among the symbolic 100 Millionth baby mark of the Philippine population.
The proud new parents, Dailin and Clemente Sentino Jr, said that “it was their first time to have a child”.  Dailin is  27 years old and works as a house helper while Clemente is 45 years old and works as a driver.
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World Population Day is an international event celebrated on July 11 every year. With the theme “Investing in Young People”, this year’s World Population Day focuses on adolescent and youth well-being, a goal for young people in the post-2015 millennium development agenda.
A one-day youth event was conducted on July 11, Friday, in Hall 3 Megatrade Hall, SM Megamall between 10:00 AM-5:00PM. The event featured different activities where adolescents and young people can participate. The event also featured a talk show about the topic “Investing in Young People: What is it worth?” A marketplace of good practices on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH), showcase of “selfie” photos, and interaction with celebrities also commenced.
The Commission on Population (POPCOM) fully supports the celebration of the World Population Day on July 11, 2014. As the youth’s population increases, their role in the society becomes significantly important. It is a fact that young people of today will shape the world for decades to come. To change the world for the better is to invest in the growth and strength of our youth. To mark this event, this year’s local theme is “Investing in Young People”. 
There are over 1.8 billion people aged 10 to 24 years old, making one quarter of the world’s population. Ninety percent (90%) of those youth lives in developing countries.1 
In 2013, there were 19.2 million youth in the Philippines. The youth aged 15 to 19 years old has a population count of 10.2 million and 9 million for youth aged 20 to 24 years old. 2 

MANILA, Philippines - To grow old with dignity is every man’s longing.

When the body becomes weak, the mind given to senility, the best one could hope for is the presence of loved ones.

For many of us, a state of utter deprivation and isolation from the very people we loved our entire lives is our worst nightmare.

This is why in the Philippines, a country known for close family ties and respect for the elderly, families live together so grandparents can be cared for until their last breath.

But somewhere behind the Philippines’ largest shopping mall, hidden from the bustle of modern city life, lies a place where some of the country’s elderly go to wait for absolution. No, they are not sinners; these senior citizens were once lost in the streets of Metro Manila seeking missing loved ones or perhaps in search of a dignity they are wishing to regain; some of them, imprisoned by their very minds or frail bodies.

More popularly known in the past as the Golden Acres (transferred to Tanay, Rizal), the facility is now called the Golden Reception and Action Center for the Elderly and Other Special Cases, or GRACES.

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Every day, a number of senior citizens rescued from the streets by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or by various local government units are brought to GRACES. In some instances, families themselves turn in their elderly when they could no longer bear the responsibility of taking care of them.

Even if the place only has room for 150, GRACES has no choice but to accommodate its present 175 occupants.

Lolo Johnny Reyes, 82, is one of those it recently admitted after he was found sleeping in the vicinity of Quiapo Church last May.

“I came to Manila to look for my son. I was told he was in Meycauayan but I could not find him there so I stayed with my cousin in Quiapo but only for a short time so I don’t overstay the welcome,” Reyes narrates.

He once worked as a furniture maker in Canada for a large office and home furniture company before returning to his hometown in Aloguinsan, Cebu, where he continued his craft until retirement.

Lolo says he hasn’t seen his son for 25 years since the latter left Cebu. He also left a daughter in Canada whom he hasn’t seen in 32 years. His relatives in the province are not aware of his whereabouts.

Handling Reyes’ case is Abi Nur Haqq Alonto, 26, one of five social workers tasked with providing care to the elderly at GRACES. Aside from Lolo Johnny, Alonto also handles 43 other senior citizen cases. He explains that since GRACES is only a diagnostic/assessment and processing center, those admitted cannot stay long in the facility. Part of his job is to trace their relatives so that they may be reunited and reintegrated to society.

“Our biggest challenge right now is locating the relatives of senior citizens turned over to us. More often than not, we don’t get results from our inquiries. We even get disheartening responses, such as when a relative refuses to take them back,” Alonto says.

Their desolation does not end there.

Inside GRACES’s decrepit facilities, the elderly and the paraplegic sleep in cottages with leaking roofs during cold nights and sweltering days. More often, the lack of decent beds forces them to sleep in makeshift cots, woven mats or even pieces of cardboard.

One can count with his fingers the number of working electric fans, fluorescent light bulbs and wheelchairs.

In a facility where the scent of sterility and old age can dampen one’s spirits, social workers brave each day armed only with love and commitment.

“It can be painful when some of them approach us to say that they want to go home. Sometimes, because of our limitations or their failing state of mind, we could not let them go,” Alonto laments.

With government funding depleted just for maintenance and operating expenses, the facility is in dire need of additional financial support from private donors in order to improve the quality of life of older persons in the facility.

When any of the elderly stay-ins get sick and need medical attention, GRACES does not have enough resources to pay for their hospitalization.

Supervising social worker Maria Cielo Agotilla said, “Aside from additional funding, GRACES can benefit from additional hospital beds, fans, PWD equipment (like stretchers, wheelchairs, canes, walkers and crutches), tools for productive activities for the elderly (like sewing machines and gardening tools), as well as basic needs like food and toiletries, we are also looking for kind-hearted individuals who can sponsor the repair and rehabilitation of our dilapidated cottages, or even the donation of an ambulance to transport older persons to hospitals.”

More than material needs, however, the best gift donors can give to the elderly is time. Right now, only a few volunteers and some seminarians visit the facility on a regular basis.

“We encourage competent individuals with a background on elderly care to volunteer their time and services with us. Hopefully, we could also get volunteer doctors to visit twice or thrice a week to check up on our patients,” a hopeful Agotilla expresses.

GRACES needs help. For those who would like to lend a hand, call (02) 929-1187 or (0949) 361-0731 or email inquiries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



The Department of Health will upgrade two clusters of Metro Manila hospitals. On top of the plan is the modernization of the country’s biggest maternity hospital, Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital and two of the oldest hospitals, San Lazaro Hospital whose expertise is in tropical diseases and Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center.

Fabella will be transferred from its present  site in Lope de Vega to the San Lazaro and Jose Reyes or Department of Health  location.  The government is planning that there will be a common laboratory and other support and ancilliary operational services for the three hospitals to save on administrative cost.

Fabella will remain a maternity and childcare hospital, Jose Reyes a hospital specializing in surgery and internal medicine, and San Lazaro an infectious disease control hospital.

DOH Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa said plans for the modernization of two national hospitals – Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) and Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital (Fabella) – had been approved, while upgrade plans for 30 other national and local government-assisted hospitals will still be studied.

The Orthopedic hospital will be transferred from its present site in Banawe St., Manila to the compound of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City.

The P5.7 billion modernization of the orthopedic hospital is included in the Public  Private Partnership  program of the government and has been won by  Megawide Corp.  and World Citi Construction. 

It will be a 700-bed hospital, 70 percent of which will be offered as “charity”  beds to be paid for by Philippine Health Insurance Corp. or Philhealth.

The Fabella modernization would cost P2 billion.  A new 9-storey hosptial with 800 beds will be built. It will also have a  130-bassinet neonatal internsive care unit (ICU).

Herbosa added that a there is also a proposal to build a hematology or blood center beside the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City.

He did not elaborate the modernization plans for the 30 other hospitals. Although, PPPC also said there had been proposals to develop the following: Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center; National Center for Mental Health; and Region I Medical Center.

The agency’s program called Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) aims to construct or upgrade health facilities in far-flung villages and towns, and to strengthen the country’s health manpower by deploying more health practitioners in the said areas.

DOH Assistant Secretary Roland Cortez explained HFEP funds would come from the DOH budget approved by Congress annually and revenues from the so-called ‘sin taxes’, or taxes imposed on tobacco and alcoholic products.

DOH budget is worth over P83.7 billion this year, while P23.02 billion was already collected from sin taxes in the first four months of 2014. Republic Act (RA) 10351, or the Sin Tax Reform Law, mandates that 85-percent of the revenues would go to the government’s program on universal health care, with 20-percent of which allotted for HFEP.

“Before President [Benigno] Aquino [III] assumed office, DOH had no capital outlay for our hospitals,” Cortez explained.

- See more at:

Source:  Malaya

Author:  Ghio Ong

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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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