Insights and opinions from our contributors on the current issues happening in the region

insight 75


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Chief Justice’s credibility crossroad

Good Friday people

Removing Lady Justice’s blindfold

Our sexual identity

Impeachment: What to Expect?

Agenda item for 2012

Enact Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill now!

RH is unreasonably expensive!

A stranger's thoughts of a place in her country

Laudable efforts of Kaisampalad Inc.






Why is the Filipino special?

June 29, 2012

( A friend, from our UN past, emailed this feature which he says was written by former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay, Jr.  You may find much to agree with – or disagree. Anyway, read on - JLM )

Filipinos are brown. Our color should not be a reason for an inferiority complex. (Some) pine for a fair complexion, white people tan themselves – approximate the Filipino complexion.

Filipinos are a touching people. We create human chains with our perennial akbay (putting an arm around another's shoulder), hawak (hold), to kalabit (touching with the tip of the finger). We seek inter connection.

Filipinos are linguists. It is not uncommon for Filipinos to speak at least three: his own local dialect, Filipino, and English. A lot speak an added language, Chinese, Spanish or, if he works abroad, the language of his host country.

Filipinos are “groupists”. We surround ourselves with people and hover over them.  An average Filipino would have and know at least 300 relatives, notes Dr. Patricia Licuanan of Ateneo and Miriam College.

At work, we live bayanihan (mutual help). We want a kalaro (playmate) more than laruan (toy). At socials, even guests bring in other guests. When there is no more space in a vehicle, we “Kalung-kalong” (Sit on one another). No one suggests splitting.

Filipinos are weavers. Look at our baskets, mats and other crafts.  This art is metaphor. We are social weavers. We weave theirs into ours that we all become parts of one another.  Thus, we put premium on pakikisama (getting along) and pakikipagkapwa (relating). Walang pakikipagkapwa (inability to relate) is one of the worst labels.

We harmonize with people and include them in our 'tribe,' our 'family'. We seek to be included. Thus, we call our friend's mother nanay, we call a friend's sister ate (eldest sister), and so on. We even call strangers tia/tita (aunt) or tio/tito.

We have the 'ka' institution, loosely translated as 'equal to the same kind' as in kasama (of the same company), kaisa (of the same cause), kapanalig (of the same belief), etc. In our social fiber, we treat other people as co-equals.

Filipinos are adventurers. We have a tradition of separation. Our legends speak of heroes and heroines who almost always get separated from loved ones, and move to far-away lands. There, they find wealth or power.

Our Spanish colonial history is filled with separations caused by the reduccion (hamleting), and forced migration to build towns, churches or galleons. American occupation enlarged the space of Filipino wandering, including America. There is documented evidence of Filipino presence in America as far back as 1587.

Now, Filipinos compose the world's largest population of overseas workers. Today's citizens of the world, bring the bagoong (salty shrimp paste), pansit (sautéed noodles), siopao (meat-filled dough), including the tabo (ladle) and tsinelas (slippers).

Filipinos recreate their home, or feel at home anywhere.  Filipinos have pakiramdam (deep feeling/discernment). We know how to feel what others feel. Being manhid (dense) is slur. In our pakikipagkapwa (relating), we get not only to wear another man's shoe but also his heart.

Filipinos are very spiritual. We transcend the physical world. We have a sense of kaba (premonition) and kutob (hunch). A Filipino wife instinctively feels her husband or child is going astray, whether or not telltale signs present themselves.

Filipino spirituality makes him invoke divine intervention. Rightly or wrongly, Filipinos are always acknowledging, invoking or driving away spirits into and from their lives. His pakiramdam makes the Filipino, once correctly Christianized, a major exponent of the faith.

Filipinos are timeless. For nearly half-a-millennium now, the western clock encroached into our lives. Except for official functions, Filipinos still measure time with feeling.  Our time is diffused, not framed.

Appointments are defined by umaga (morning), tanghali (noon), hapon (afternoon), or gabi (evening).  Our most exact time reference is probably katanghaliang-tapat (high noon), which allows many minutes of leeway.

There is really no definite time.  A Filipino event has no clear-cut beginning nor ending. We have a fiesta, but there is visperas (eve), a day after the fiesta is still considered a good time to visit. The Filipino Christmas is not confined to December 25th, it somehow begins months before December and extends up to beyond the first days of January.

Filipinos are spaceless.  The Filipino concept of space is not expressed in kilometers but with feelings. We say malayo (far) or malapit (near).  Indigenous culture did not divide land into private lots but kept it open for all to partake of its abundance.

One's party may expropriate the street! So do sari-sari stores.  Provincial folks dry palayan (rice grain) on the highways. Religious groups matter-of-factly commandeer streets for processions and parades. “Filipinos eat, sleep, chat, socialize, quarrel, even urinate, or just anywhere!”

So what makes the Filipino special? Brown, spiritual, timeless, spaceless, linguists, groupists, weavers, adventurers; seldom do all these qualities find personification in a people. Filipinos should contribute their traits to the world-wide community of men. Ah, but first, they should know, like and love themselves.





Goodbye, procrastinators!

June 22, 2012

Simple negligence is a common blunder Filipinos commit.  Its loudest equivalent word in Waray are “pagpasibaya”.  Left unattended for as long as time goes by, a thing may be engulfed in a misfortune but embrocaded with value at a not so later time.  A late realization of that thing’s worth could create bedlam, which may find an absconder the greater beneficiary when other better options are not available to a supposed legal owner.

Pagpasibaya sometimes proceeds from “pagpaumaya” (or “pagpasiumaya”) ot “paubaya”, meaning, giving way to another, or from temporarily giving up dominion over a thing.

Sometimes, laches develops when a supposed owner starts claiming ownership or opting to already use the thing that has been left forlorn for a time. That’s where a quondam denial becomes an assertion which results of continued failure to decisively assert only tend to complicate.

The Philippine’s claim over the Scarborough Shoal is a discomforting example here.

It seems, Filipinos are all too late in fortifying their assertion over those small islands which, whether we like it or not, are now totally under the control of alien Chinese.  We should have sustained our assertion right from the very first moment that we though that those islands are ours.  Like our surrounding territorial sea waters, we should have not just left that archipelagic part uninhabited, or unexplored.  “Yana, dara han pagpasabaya, nagmumuas na lugod kita,” is the usual blame we hear from the ordinary citizens.

From the early 80s to early 2000s, we used to hear about Taiwanese, Japanese and Korean vessels fishing our realm of the Pacific Ocean.  But we also used to hear about our Philippine navy and coast guard always unable to stop those alien ocean marauders.   We always heard the usual alibi, our own vessels were no match to those.  And so, almost always, ginpasibay’an ta nala an mga langyawanon.  “Kay waray ta man kapas” was the most painful alibi.  Up to now, our armed forces are not effectively ready to protect and defend territories that we have been made to believe as ours.

China might have been watching events.  Once, we thought Sabah in Borneo was ours. But we stopped our claim somwhere at many times in the not so distant past, until we no longer heard about it.  It was a case of pagpasibaya.

Since Palacio de Malacañan was erected, only a few muslims’ groups were warring against non-muslims and non-christians yet, and eventually, christians, first, as our own Waray historical accounts of moro raids say, to pillage small to big establishments, then to claim the entire island of Mindanao as independently theirs after failing to force to their knees the Warays, Bikolanos and Tagalogs in the 1600s to mid-1700s, and finally, to secede.  Secession has always been the last expression at arrogating a territory no matter to whom it belonged and who reigned over it.  Thus, there used to be a Mindanao Secession Movement that serious talk of which had eroded the conscience of some Waray’s until year 2001.  (Did you recall proddings to establish a Waray Republic? it almost had the embellisment of a Leyte-Samar Indepence Movement?  That was between 1999 and 2001.)

With our negligence, some original parts of municipal territories have already effectively been lost to the more enterprising neighboring towns, never mind if the latter were even smaller in both land size and human population.  Local government officials should have been seen an constantly crusading to reinforce their protectional claims over their territorial boundaries, first, through passage of a resolution or ordinance, next by elbowing with the government’s lands survey authorities for the conduct of without-let-up survey that in the end will determine the exact locational boundaries between towns, or between towns and cities, or between towns/cities and a province or provinces.  Today, ginpapabay’an ta la gihapon ine nga kamaihaan na nga development must.  That is why, some barrio folks migrate to that place which seemingly cares for them, for their products, and for their lands, farms and crops.  In this wise, however, the national government should not simply wait until local government officials start knocking on its doors.  The problem is actually already “national in scope”, and therefore alarming.  It is time the national government seriously create a body that will study closely this problem, with the end in view of putting a total stop to it.  The national government and all the local government officials should not anymore procrastinate.

It may help recall here that before 1990, or up to 1992, an estimated 2,000 hectares in the northwestern territory of Basey in Samar province had reportedly been claimed by some enterprising residents of the neighboring town of Sta. Rita as already belonging to the terrirory of Sta. Rita.  No giant steps were ever made to correct that threat to the territorial integrity of Basey.  If my memory serves me right, about a thousand hectares, if not just hundreds, belonging to the town of Villareal (Samar) were being claimed by its neighbor, Pinabacdao (Samar).  I think that issue had reached the sangtguniang panlalawigan and Villareal officials were doing their level best to reinforce their own claims.

Just last May 25 and June 15, some baryohanon of Basey expressed a common observation.  Some parts of their barrio’s territory are no longer producing an income for their own barrio because those parts had already been arrogated by the next villages as part of their own territories.  That may have a bearing on a barrio’s internal revenue allotment and on overall economy.  Alas, the barrio officials themselves did not know then, as much before, what to do and how go about with that situation.  At least Marlou Palo and Michael de la Torre, both products of the community organizing training coordinated with KAISAMPALAD Inc. through non-government organization coordinator Judy Torres, had suggested certain courses of action to take.  The only problem now is not a single course has been arrived at by those who should be making a decision at the barrio level.

These economic and geographic landscape events happen in other towns in the Leyte-Samar region and in other regions across the Philippine archipelago.

What we have just demonstrated as our form of protest to the controversial – suspected as “fixed” – split decision that gave American pugilist Timothy Bradley the champ’s belt that should have rightfully belonged to our own lawmaking boxer Manny Pacquiao, should be replicated, although in translated forms, in addressing out problem of pagpasibaya involving Scarborough Shoal and losing barrio territories.  The best leaders to start this move are our national, regional, provincial, and municipal officials. Well, isn’t it that they, too, were ostensibly one with the whole world in acknowledging Manny as the June 9 winner in Las Vegas?  As a result of our persistent efforts and outcry, at least the World Boxing Organization (WBO) had determined that it was Bradley who was outboxed and that it was Manny who actually won.  Another good outcome, the good tidings from America, two former-boxers now American senators are pushing for a legislation that will at least ensure that boxing decisions will no long be as had occurred on Manny.  Well, Manny himself, briefly after his twelfth round with Tim, remarked that he won.  The world witnessed that outpunching performance Manny did.  The world saw Tim helplessly couched on a wheelchair after his win by split decision was announced after he himself believed, before that ring announcement, that he was defeated.

These, and our own experiences, should guide us in overcoming the misfortune of neglect and abandon.

 + + + + + + + + + +

“I am not sure I can handle it." We often hear this remark when a comrade hesitates to accept an assignment. Why is he unsure of himself? Because he has no systematic understanding of the content and circumstances of the assignment, or because he has had little or no contact with such work, and so the laws governing it are beyond him. After a detailed analysis of the nature and circumstances of the assignment, he will feel more sure of himself and do it willingly. If he spends some time at the job and gains experience and if he is a person who is willing to look into matters with an open mind and not one who approaches problems subjectively, one-sidedly and superficially, then he can draw conclusions for himself as to how to go about the job and do it with much more courage. Only those who are subjective, one-sided and superficial in their approach to problems will smugly issue orders or directives the moment they arrive on the scene, without considering the circumstances, without viewing things in their totality (their history and their present state as a whole) and without getting to the essence of things (their nature and the internal relations between one thing and another). Such people are bound to trip and fall.

Thus it can be seen that the first step in the process of cognition is contact with the objects of the external world; this belongs to the stage of perception. The second step is to synthesize the data of perception by arranging and reconstructing them; this belongs to the stage of conception, judgement and inference. It is only when the data of perception are very rich (not fragmentary) and correspond to reality (are not illusory) that they can be the basis for forming correct concepts and theories.’ - Mao Tse Tung.





What is religious freedom?

June 20, 2012

A kind of controversy erupted recently because a party-list congressman had the brilliant idea of filing a bill, ironically entitled “Religious Freedom in Government Act,” practically banning God in public places. The premise on which the proposed bill stands says:

“The state cannot be seen as favoring one religion over the other, in allowing the prominent conduct and display of religious ceremonies and symbols, respectively in public offices and property.“

And so among provisions are the following: “Religious ceremonies shall not be undertaken within the premises and perimeter of their offices, departments, and bureaus, including publicly owned spaces and corridors within such spaces and corridors within such offices, departments and bureaus.

“Religious symbols shall not be displayed within the premises and perimeter of their offices, departments and bureaus, including publicly owned corridors within such offices, departments, and bureaus...”

If I may say so, this is a crazy idea simply because no one is forcing anyone else to pray or not to pray in public places, to hold some religious activities or not in these places. Things depend on the religious sentiments of the people involved, whether they are in public or private places.

What’s wrong is when you prohibit them to express their religion in public places just because they are government properties. Religion cannot be confined to being purely personal, individual affairs and expressed only in private and secluded places. This is not religious freedom at all.

One carries and lives his religion wherever he is and we should respect this right anytime. The only limitation to this right insofar as public places are concerned is when public disturbance is involved. Otherwise, it should be made to be lived and expressed in the manner desired by the persons involved.

So if more or less everyone or at least a majority agrees to pray before starting their work in government offices, or to put some religious images on their desks, or to have Mass on First Friday, no law should prohibit them from doing so.

Obviously, not everyone can agree to these things, and so a certain tolerance should be exercised by those who don’t agree, and a certain sensitivity and magnanimity should also be practiced by the majority toward the minority in any issue of religion.

In this regard, we have to remind the Catholics and Christians who form the majority in our country to be delicate in living their religion especially when practicing it would cause some unnecessary disturbance in public.

So far, I have not witnessed any big problem in this matter in our country. I believe we are quite a tolerant and understanding people. We hate imposing things on others. We have managed to live in harmony despite the great variety and differences in our religious beliefs and practices.

On the contrary, banning the practice and expression of religion can indicate not religious freedom but rather intolerance and tyranny. It is forcing everyone to tend toward what are called as religious indifference or agnosticism or relativism or atheism.

Of course, everyone is free to assume those beliefs if he chooses them. But they should not be given some undue favorable position to the detriment of those who choose to live their religion even in public places.

It might be relevant to cite a point in the Catechism that talks about religious freedom, especially in the context of a country where you have a composition of majority and minorities in the area of religion:

“If because of the circumstances of a particular people special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional organization of the state, the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom must be recognized and respected as well.” (2107)

The Catholics in general, whether they are the majority or minority in a given country or place, abide by this teaching. This is the official stand to which everyone is asked to live. Obviously, we need continuing formation and reminders for this ideal to be attained.

But religious freedom is the most fundamental of all our rights and freedoms, since it involves human freedom in its core. On it are based all our other values pertaining to other levels and aspects of freedom, human rights and duties.

It’s also a subject that needs to be studied and understood more penetratingly. We should not be restrained in doing so just because we want peace, order and harmony. We can only achieve true peace, order and harmony when we take this task more seriously.

Otherwise, we will have false versions of religious freedom, prone to be distorted even more.





Beyond 2016

June 15, 2012

“Better to jaw-jaw than war-war” is a street demo cry.  It also fits the June launch of a $3 million project that would help over 20,000 households, scattered in 21 towns across nine conflict-ridden Mindanao provinces.

This is the latest project launched by the Mindanao Trust Fund - Reconstruction and Development Program (MTF-RDP). This six-year old $16 million multi-donor facility is co-chaired by the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the Bangsamoro Development Authority.  World Bank funds and administers the project.  The European Union as the largest contributor.

Four out of 10 households, in Central Mindanao alone, were uprooted by periodic clashes over the past 12 years, an earlier survey by UN World Food Programme and World Bank found. Respondent families came from Lanao del Sur and Norte, Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

In October last year, more people fled clashes between government and MILF units erupted in Zamboanga Sibugay and Basilan.  Political warlords aggravate conflict.  Thirty two journalists were among 57 victims massacred in Maguindanao. Senior members of Ampatuan clan and associates are now being tried.

Five in one families had to flee two or three times, ”Violent Conflicts and Displacement in Central Mindanao” notes. One in ten evacuated homes up to five times during the period covered by the survey. They’re dubbed “bakwits”.  Respondent families came from Lanao del Sur and Norte, Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

The two Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao – Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur – were savaged by the highest levels of food insecurity. Recurrent flooding and crop disease exacerbated the stress.

Conflict shattered every key indicator from food security, access to basic services, income, poverty to social cohesion, the study found. Return to gutted homes usher in rehabilitation problems.

Maneuvers by armed military and rebel groups were pinpointed as major cause of their displacement by 29 percent of surveyed households. Another 9 percent blamed it on clan conflict or “rido”.

“Peace is the only battle worth waging,” French philosopher and author Albert Camus wrote. Despite high risks, MTF-RDP delivered services to over 31,000 households in 2011. These consisted of classrooms, health stations, access roads, water supply systems, and community centers. Coverage expanded from 62 to 162 barangays in 75 towns.

“Initiatives like the MTF-RDP ensure that communities can enjoy the dividends of development and peace, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles said.  “Gains from this Program show that partnerships among different stakeholders can bring about much good for the communities…”

She also noted the importance of capacity-building for the Bangsamoro Development Agency. “A strengthened BDA is an important building block for a just and lasting peace in Mindanao,” Secretary Deles stressed.

BDA is the development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It also oversees relief, rehabilitation and development. “Priority attention is focused on the political settlement of the Mindanao problem,” noted BDA chair Dr. Saffrullah M. Dipatuan.

Human needs, however, can not wait “Projects and programs that will alleviate suffering in conflict-affected areas should be implemented while both parties are earnestly engaged in peace negotiation.” Indeed, “there was never a good war or a bad peace.”

“This new agreement serves as a confidence-building measure among parties in the conflict,” noted World Bank country director Motoo Konishi. It will be a vehicle to build capacity among Bangsamoro groups. That capacity will be even more important in a post-peace agreement scenario.

“Global experience suggests that achieving and sustaining peace requires cooperation and collaboration between key stakeholders,” Mr. Konishi added. “No single party can achieve peace on their own. By bringing the Government and the MILF together, with the support of the international community, the Mindanao Trust Fund is built on the principle of cooperation.”

“Take one peace step at a time – and repeat it again and again,” is an old counsel. That is needed on the political front where government and MILF are still inching forward to reach an agreement.

To look beyond the horizon of 2016 is one essential peace step, said Judge Soliman Santos at an Ateneo de Davao forum. Santos area of expertise is the Bangsamoro issue.

Government should not just think of President Benigno Aquino’s administration and what it can do up to 2016 – when he steps down.  Malacanang and its negotiators should think of leaving a more strategic legacy beyond that. “It is the centuries-old Bangsamoro problem that we are solving here, not just its fate under P-Noy.”

The peace panel is “constrained by its mandate to negotiate only within the existing constitutional framework. “It is not allowed to think outside the box to solve the Bangsamoro problem. Is this contrary to the guidance in the Supreme Court decision on the (Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.”

What the Supreme Court did not allow was clear, Santos said: “The panel cannot usurp constituent powers regarding constitutional changes. Nor can it agree to even legislative changes by promising or commitment to the negotiating partner certain changes in the existing legal frameworks.”  Thinking beyond the box is vital.

All are agreed, meanwhile, that el respeto al derecho ajeno es las paz. “Respect for the rights of others nurtures peace”.





Persons not commodities

May 27, 2012

“…talents now appear to be considered more as a commodity than as a person.”

Together with the rest of the country and I suppose millions of others all over the world, I was disappointed when Jessica Sanchez did not win the American Idol title. What made it worse was the news item that Jessica would most likely get only a $30K contract, way below the usual $175K rate others of her ranking would take home.

The news said that the downgraded rate was due to the low ratings the American Idol finale got that evening. Somehow, that item left in me a bad taste in the mouth.

It’s actually not so much about her low-valued contract that bothered me. I understand that there is always a business side in contests like the American Idol, and that has to be respected. It’s more about reducing everything into money and profitability that would seem to turn talents into mere commodities.

I pray that I’m wrong in this observation, that perhaps I have been overly sensitive and have been exaggerating my reactions and generalizing my judgments. Still, I find many instances where this disturbing thought seems to be validated. And I feel we need to do something about this.

We have to be careful with this tendency that is actually proliferating to such an extent that it is now becoming the mainstream culture worldwide. The fine distinction and proper relation between talents as persons and as business products are getting confused, if not obliterated and reversed.

This is a dangerous situation, obviously because talents now appear to be considered more as a commodity than as a person. Talents are simply used when useful and profitable, and conveniently discarded when their popularity drops. That’s because they are treated more as commodities.

Young talents, not yet well educated, are very vulnerable to be used and in fact are willing to be used as mere commodities. And the people in general, the audience, do not know any better either. They go along with that kind of system.

This dangerous situation is especially endemic in showbiz, where the talents just come and go like soaps and shampoos in the commercials. But it actually also obtains in practically all fields of profession and business. Even in clerical circles, this anomalous phenomenon can also take place.

We tend to see others more for what they can do to us than what or who they really are. This seems to be the currency or the lingua franca nowadays in our dealings with others. And this is generating, albeit quietly and subtly, a polluting atmosphere around us. It perverts the world culture from the root of our relationships.

We often forget that talents, workers, artists, etc., are first of all persons with mind and heart, with a spiritual soul, who in the last analysis are the image and likeness of God, children of his and brothers and sisters of ours who deserve always to be loved regardless of our differences and other conditions in life.

As such there is a certain sacredness in all of us that should always be acknowledged and respected no matter what successes or failures, victories or defeats we may have. Whatever talent one may have, or the lack of it, should always be related to God, and not just something to be used purely for gain or other practical purposes.

As such, there is always a need to give preferential treatment to the inner aspects of man, and I refer not so much to a person’s feelings and emotions, though these too are important, as to a person’s conscious and willing conformity to right reason, and ultimately to truths of faith about us.

Obviously, cases are abundant where our feelings and emotions are actually at odds with the objective truth about us as presented to us by reason and faith. In these instances, we just have to find a way to reconcile these conflicting inner aspects, always giving priority to the demands of faith and reason over our feelings and emotions.

Our usual problem is that we often get contented with tackling just the external aspects – one’s performance, his efficiency, popularity, profitability, etc. Obviously, these have to be attended to, but if we give a lot of attention to them, much more so should we give to protecting and enhancing one’s dignity as person and child of God.

We should try to avoid succumbing to the practical side of things at the expense of neglecting and even sacrificing the objective dignity of persons. In this, we have to be more conscious, precisely because the current culture is in dire need of correction.





In commemoration of the 29th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial

A press statement by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
25 May 2012

As the global community commemorates the 29th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) stands with the communities of people living with HIV (PLHIV) and key affected populations in claiming their right to health and dignity. This year’s theme, “Promoting Positive Health and Dignity Together”, highlights the important role of partnerships and collaboration in the campaign for positive prevention.

In the Philippines, as the number of reported new HIV infections continues to rise at unprecedented rates, the goal of universal access to treatment, care and support, as well as prevention services, becomes even more challenging. Without effective HIV prevention programs, it is estimated that there will be around 12,000 Filipinos living with HIV needing anti-retroviral treatment by 2015. The cost of providing treatment for all those in need by 2015 will be P428.5 million.

UNAIDS Philippines acknowledges the leadership of HIV Champions at the Senate and House of Representatives who have initiated legislative processes that aim to strengthen the legal framework for a national response to HIV and AIDS that is people-centered and rights-based. While Republic Act 8504, known as the AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998, had been cited by UNAIDS as a “good practice”, the rapidly expanding HIV epidemic in the Philippines calls for urgent policy reform. At the start of 2011, an initiative of civil society organizations, including support groups of people living with HIV led to the filing of House and Senate bills by the year’s end.

Among the noteworthy provisions of the bills are stronger measures protecting the rights of PLHIV, key affected populations, peer educators and other service-providers.  Likewise, the bills recognize the need for increased domestic resources to scale up coverage of HIV prevention programs, and allocate significant budgetary increases for HIV programs.

These legislative reforms are consistent with provisions of the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS: Intensifying Our Efforts to Eliminate HIV/AIDS, a resolution that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in June 2011. The Political Declaration, to which the Philippines is a signatory, affirms the commitment of Member States “to intensify national efforts to create enabling legal, social and policy frameworks in each national context in order to eliminate stigma, discrimination and violence related to HIV and promote access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support and non-discriminatory access to education, health care, employment and social services, (and) provide legal protections for people affected by HIV”.

UNAIDS calls on the country’s leaders in government, civil society, the private sector, and media to engage in dialogue that openly discuss the current status of the HIV and AIDS epidemic and the rights-based and evidence informed responses that are needed to move the country closer to attaining the Millennium Development Goal 6, to halt and reverse the spread of HIV by 2015.

The UNAIDS vision of Zero new infections, Zero discrimination, and Zero AIDS-related deaths, may yet become a reality when all sectors of society are “promoting positive health and dignity together.”



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