reunites with daughter after 30 years
reunites with her daughter Jennifer at the Correctional
Institution for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City, Philippines.
(Photo by CIW)
October 20, 2022
MANILA – "Nasaan
ang anak ko? (Where is my daughter),” asked Anne* looking straight
at Jennifer*, who was introduced to her by a staff of the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Smiling,
36-year-old Jennifer pointed to herself. They had last seen each
other over 30 years ago. Continuing to look at the younger woman
with some disbelief, Anne recalled that her daughter had a birthmark
somewhere around the nape of her neck. As she spotted it on
Jennifer, they were both overcome with emotions and embraced
Jennifer was only six
years old when Anne was offered a job as a saleslady in Malaysia.
Like many Filipinos in search of a better life, she accepted it. “I
did not tell my mother that I wanted to work abroad because she
would have refused to let me go. So, I just left without a trace. I
was sure I would come back and my family would understand me because
I did it for them,” said Anne.
But the job in Malaysia
turned out to be a scam. Anne was tricked into becoming an
entertainer with a measly salary. When she was released from that
job, Anne became a domestic help and then toiled as a construction
After her contract ended,
Anne returned to the Philippines in 2006. However, she did not go
back to her family because she was afraid to see her mother. “I
thought she would reproach me for what I had done. I convinced
myself to pretend as if I were dead to my family,” she said, adding
that she chose to settle in another village in Mindanao and started
Detained in the
In 2017, Anne was arrested
in relation to armed conflict. The ICRC visited her at Taguig City
Jail a few months after her arrest as part of its humanitarian
mandate and activities in the Philippines. “We have been helping
detainees all over the world for more than 150 years, focusing on
people deprived of their liberty in relation to armed conflicts and
other violence. We look into how detainees are treated during their
arrest and detention and monitor their health and living conditions.
We also help to restore and maintain communication between detainees
and their family members,” explained Alvin Loyola, the ICRC staff
who accompanied Jennifer to meet Anne.
Anne learned about the
ICRC’s Family Visit Programme (FVP), under the Restoring Family
Links (RFL) initiative, to help detainees separated from their loved
ones because of armed conflicts. The RFL initiative involves tracing
detainees’ family members, re-establishing and maintaining contact,
reuniting families and seeking to clarify the fate and whereabouts
of those who remain missing. Through the FVP, families of detainees
can travel from their hometowns to visit their detained loved ones.
“It is very important because it allows detainees to re-establish or
maintain contact with their families and improves their
psychological well-being,” said Mariegen Balo, ICRC staff.
Anne also desired to meet
her daughter when she found out her whereabouts through relatives.
But the programme was suspended in 2020 because of the COVID-19
global pandemic. When the travel restrictions were eased in 2022 and
family visits resumed, the ICRC scheduled Anne’s long-awaited
reunion with her daughter.
Together at last
In July, an ICRC team
accompanied Jennifer to visit her mother, who is now detained at the
Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City. Anne
said she did not know how she would approach her daughter, whom she
had last seen three decades ago. “I wondered, should I ask for
forgiveness first, or do I just hug her?”
But Jennifer, who had
managed to beat the odds and graduate from college with her
grandmother’s help, said her mother did not need to worry at all.
Even though they had not been in contact for 30 years, Jennifer said
she did not harbour any resentment against her mother. In fact,
every year on 30 January – Anne’s birthday – Jennifer would put a
post on social media in her honour. “The only photo I had of my
mother was destroyed in a flood so I used photos of my siblings and
me for the posts. I used to pray hard for the day that I would see
her again,” said Jennifer.
The mother and daughter’s
reunion happened just a few days after Jennifer’s 36th birthday, so
the ICRC team asked Anne about her wish for Jennifer. “I wish her
more happiness in life and that she may be given more
opportunities,” said Anne.
As part of the FVP, Anne’s
family will make two ICRC-supported visits every year to meet her.
Now that she has been reunited with Jennifer, Anne said she looks
forward to making up for lost time.
*Names have been changed to protect identity.
2021 Eastern Visayas poverty situation
22 in every 100
families in Eastern Visayas are poor
October 14, 2022
TACLOBAN CITY -
Poverty incidence among families in Eastern Visayas in 2021 was
estimated at 22.2 percent. This implies that in 2021, about 22 in
every 100 families in the region were poor or have income that were
below the poverty threshold, or the amount needed to buy their basic
food and non-food needs.
Among provinces, Eastern
Samar posted the highest poverty incidence in 2021 at 29.4 percent,
while Southern Leyte registered the lowest poverty incidence among
families at 16.0 percent. Eastern Samar and Samar registered higher
poverty incidences among families than the regional level in 2021,
while the rest of the provinces posted lower poverty incidences than
the regional estimate at 22.2 percent.
in poverty incidence among families were noted in Eastern Samar and
Northern Samar. Poverty incidence among families in Eastern Samar
dropped to 29.4 percent in 2021 from 40.9 percent in 2018. The
province of Northern Samar, meanwhile, registered 19.3 percent
poverty incidence among families in 2021, lower than the 27.6
percent in 2018. On the other hand, poverty incidence among families
in Biliran significantly increased to 19.9 percent in 2021 from 13.7
percent in 2018. Samar registered 27.0 percent poverty incidence
among families in 2021, significantly higher than the 22.2 percent
in 2018 (Table 1).
Given the new master
sample, PSA was able to generate reliable statistics down to the
provincial level as well as for highly urbanized cities (HUCs).
Poverty incidence among families for Tacloban City, the lone HUC in
the region, was significantly higher in 2021 at 10.7 percent
compared with its recorded 5.3 percent poverty incidence among
families in 2018.
Around 29 out of 100
individuals in Eastern Visayas are poor
Poverty incidence among
population in Eastern Visayas in 2021 was estimated at 28.9 percent.
This implies that in 2021, around 29 in every 100 individuals in the
region belonged to the poor population whose income were not
sufficient to buy their minimum basic food and non-food needs.
Among provinces, Eastern
Samar posted the highest poverty incidence among population in 2021
at 37.7 percent, while Southern Leyte registered the lowest poverty
incidence among population at 21.5 percent. Eastern Samar, Samar,
and Leyte (excluding Tacloban City) registered higher poverty
incidences among population than the regional figure in 2021, while
the rest of the provinces posted lower poverty incidences than the
regional estimate at 28.9 percent.
in poverty incidence among population between 2018 and 2021 were
noted in Eastern Samar and Northern Samar. Poverty incidence among
population in Eastern Samar dropped to 37.7 percent in 2021 from
49.5 percent in 2018. The province of Northern Samar, meanwhile,
registered 25.9 percent poverty incidence among population in 2021,
lower than the 34.3 percent in 2018. On the other hand, poverty
incidence among population in Biliran significantly increased to
27.2 percent in 2021 from 19.6 percent in 2018 (Table 2).
Further, poverty incidence
among population in Tacloban City in 2021 significantly increased to
15.6 percent from 8.1 percent in 2018.
The subsistence incidence
among families in Eastern Visayas in 2021 was estimated at 7.2
percent. This means that in 2021, about 7 in every 100 families in
the region have income below the food threshold or the amount needed
to buy their basic food needs and satisfy the nutritional
requirements set by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI)
to ensure that one remains economically and socially productive.
Among provinces, Eastern
Samar posted the highest subsistence incidence among families in
2021 at 12.1 percent, while Northern Samar registered the lowest
subsistence incidence among families at 3.7 percent. Eastern Samar,
Samar, and Leyte (excluding Tacloban City) registered higher
subsistence incidences among families than the regional figure in
2021. The rest of the provinces posted lower subsistence incidences
than the regional estimate at 7.2 percent.
in subsistence incidence among families between 2018 and 2021 were
noted in Eastern Samar and Northern Samar. Subsistence incidence
among families in Eastern Samar declined to 12.1 percent in 2021
from 16.5 percent in 2018. The province of Northern Samar,
meanwhile, registered 3.7 percent subsistence incidence among
families in 2021, lower than the 7.2 percent in 2018. On the other
hand, subsistence incidence among families in Biliran significantly
increased to 6.6 percent in 2021 from 2.2 percent in 2018 (Table 3).
In addition, subsistence
incidence among families in Tacloban City significantly increased to
2.1 percent in 2021 from 1.0 percent in 2018.
among population in Eastern Visayas in 2021 was estimated at 10.4
percent. This translates that in 2021, about 10 in every 100
individuals in the region have income below the food threshold or
the minimum amount needed to buy their basic food needs.
Among provinces, Eastern
Samar posted the highest subsistence incidence among population in
2021 at 17.1 percent, while Northern Samar registered the lowest
subsistence incidence among population at 5.8 percent. Eastern Samar,
Samar, and Leyte (excluding Tacloban City) registered higher
subsistence incidences among population than the regional figure in
2021. The rest of the provinces posted lower subsistence incidences
than the regional estimate at 10.4 percent.
in subsistence incidence among population between 2018 and 2021 were
noted in Eastern Samar and Northern Samar. Subsistence incidence
among population in Eastern Samar decreased to 17.1 percent in 2021
from 22.0 percent in 2018. The province of Northern Samar,
meanwhile, registered 5.8 percent subsistence incidence among
population in 2021, lower than the 10.6 percent in 2018. On the
other hand, subsistence incidence among population in Biliran
significantly increased to 10.1 percent in 2021 from 3.5 percent in
2018 (Table 4).
among population in Tacloban City significantly increased to 3.3
percent in 2021 from 1.6 percent in 2018.
In 2021, a family of five
(5) in Eastern Visayas needed at least P7,819 per month, to meet the
family’s basic food needs. This amount represents the average
monthly food threshold for a family of five (5). This figure is 6.5
percent higher compared with the 2018 level of P7,345.
Biliran posted the highest
food threshold among the provinces in Eastern Visayas with P8,471
average monthly food threshold for a family of five (5) in 2021. On
the other hand, Samar had the lowest average monthly food threshold
for a family of five (5) at P7,342 in the same year (Figure 5).
Increases in food
threshold between 2018 and 2021 were observed in all provinces,
except in Eastern Samar, which registered a -0.5 percent decrease in
food threshold. Biliran posted the biggest increase in food
threshold at 20.5 percent (Table 5).
Meanwhile, average monthly
food threshold for a family of five (5) in Tacloban City was
estimated at P8,075 in 2021. This registered an increase of 16.4
percent compared with its P6,940 level in 2018.
The average monthly
poverty threshold for a family of five (5) in Eastern Visayas in
2021 was estimated at P11,187, an increase of 7.4 percent from its
2018 level of P10,411. This represents the amount needed every month
to meet the family’s basic food and non-food needs.
Among the provinces, the
highest average monthly poverty threshold for a family of five (5)
was observed in Eastern Samar at P12,052 in 2021. On the other hand,
Samar registered the lowest average monthly poverty threshold for a
family of five (5) at P10,525 in the same year (Figure 6).
Increases in poverty
threshold between 2018 and 2021 were observed in all provinces,
except in Eastern Samar, which registered a -0.5 percent decrease in
poverty threshold. Biliran posted the biggest increase in poverty
threshold at 16.8 percent.
Meanwhile, average monthly
poverty threshold for a family of five (5) in Tacloban City was
estimated at P11,564 in 2021. This registered an increase of 16.4
percent compared with its P9,935 level in 2018.
Clustering of Provinces
based on Poverty Incidence
All provinces in the
country were clustered from 1 to 5 using poverty incidence among
families as the clustering variable. Cluster 1 comprises the bottom
poor provinces and Cluster 5 comprises the least poor provinces.
In 2021, two (2) provinces
moved one (1) cluster lower from their cluster categories in 2018,
namely Biliran and Samar. Two (2) provinces, Northern Samar and
Southern Leyte, moved one (1) cluster higher from their cluster
categories in 2018. The rest of the provinces maintained their 2018
Among the provinces, only
Southern Leyte was categorized as Cluster 4. Three (3) provinces,
namely: Biliran, Leyte (including Tacloban City), and Northern Samar
belonged to Cluster 3, while Eastern Samar and Samar were classified
in Cluster 2.
observed in Philippine elections
June 28, 2022
QUEZON CITY – The
International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)
has completed its independent monitoring and assessment of the
Philippine elections that took place on May 9, 2022. The main
finding is that the election was not free, honest, or fair by
international standards. It was a classic ‘guns, goons, and gold’
contest and marked by a successful massive social media campaign to
rebrand the kleptocratic Marcos family’s brutal dictatorship as the
golden age of Philippine politics. The return of the disgraced
Marcos family to center stage in the Philippines is consistent with
the feudal dynastic system that is the centerpiece of political life
in the country.
Evidence gathered by the
International Observers Mission
The Philippine Election
2022 International Observer Mission (IOM) was established as a
response to Investigate PH’s independent international investigation
into human rights violations in the Philippines. The IOM has had
over 60 observers from 11 countries on the ground since April 1, who
have meticulously documented the campaign, the vote, and the
aftermath in various areas including Central Luzon, National Capital
Region, Southern Tagalog, Southern Luzon, Central Visayas, Western
Visayas, Eastern Visayas, and Mindanao. IOM observers included
members of national parliaments, lawyers, trade unionists, church
people, youth and students, educators, scientists, and human rights
advocates. At various times, the IOM observers themselves were
subjected to harassment and red-tagging by the police and military.
“The observers reported
that the May elections showed a higher level of failure of the
electronic voting system than ever before, along with a higher level
of blatant vote-buying, a disturbing level of red-tagging of
candidates and parties, as well as a number of incidents of deadly
violence. A large number of voters did not get to cast their vote,
and many had to trust that election officials would later put their
marked ballot paper through a Vote Counting Machine, thus
undermining the secrecy of the vote,” said Lee Rhiannon, former
Australian Senator and Commissioner of the IOM.
Massive fraud and failure
of the democratic process
The main conclusion of the
IOM is that the recent Philippine national elections were a failure
of the democratic process. The elections took place in the most
repressive context seen since the time of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Military and state officials openly campaigned against the
opposition by red-tagging the Leni Robredo campaign, as well as
other candidates for Senate and partylist groups. “Throughout the
election campaign, the Duterte government continued its orchestrated
campaign of state terror. As part of its war on dissent, the
government marshalled the entire machinery of government, including
the judiciary, the military and police; and government departments
of education, social services, and local governments,” said Danilo
Arao of the anti-election fraud organization Kontra Daya. The IOM
observed soldiers in Eastern Visayas up to the election day
intimidating people not to vote for Bayan Muna and other progressive
The May 9 election did not
meet the standard of “free, honest, and fair” because of these
prevailing conditions. It robbed voters of access to reliable
information, access to voting places without intimidation, and a
credible vote counting system. The IOM has reported election-related
violations of human rights since early March in the form of
political killings, shootings, abductions, death threats, political
arrests, harassment and surveillance of candidates and supporters,
large-scale red tagging, widespread vote-buying, media manipulation
and repression, fake news, and harassment of journalists by the
Marcos campaign. IOM researchers identified that the 2022 election
results were the first time in five presidential elections in the
Philippines that the number of votes garnered by an Automated
Electronic System (AES) president is higher than the number one AES
elected senator, suggesting massive fraud.
Rule of political
“The tendency towards a
one-party state evident under the Duterte regime was omnipresent in
the results of the May vote. In essence it was an exercise in para-military
democracy fused with a system of feudal dynastic rule,” said Chris
Ferguson, IOM Commissioner and former General Secretary of the World
Communion of Reformed Churches. While there remain many political
parties, most pay fealty to the Marcos-Duterte bloc. The opposition
was all but wiped out in the Senate, with only one of the 12
candidates elected not allied with the Marcos-Duterte bloc in one
way or another, and 3 political dynasties now controlling a quarter
of the Senate seats. Similarly, the partylist system has been
corrupted by dynastic politics to the point where only a shrinking
sliver of the successful groups represent disadvantaged or
marginalized sectors in Philippine society. “The partylist system
should return to its intended purpose because now it is yet another
failed attempt to democratize the Philippine political process,”
Democratic reforms needed
within the Philippine political system
The results of the May
election are the latest in a series of chronic failures of the
Philippine political system to offer the economic and social reforms
required to advance social rights and speaks to the need for major
reform. These political reforms required to democratize the
Philippine polity include removing the feudal family dynasties from
politics, reviewing the efficacy of the AES and renewing the
partylist system to give a greater voice to the marginalized and
“For the international
community and proponents of human rights, the results of the
election represent a worst-case scenario. ICHRP’s concern is that
the new Marcos-Duterte government will continue to provide legal and
legislative cover for past and future human rights violations and
crimes against humanity,” said Rev. Michael Yoshii, Commissioner of
the IOM and member of the ICHRP Global Council.
Yoshii continued, “the
return of a Marcos to the presidency and the virtual elimination of
legislative opposition represents a huge challenge for the
international community. There must be a renewed effort to
strengthen civil society and the organizations representing the
popular sectors. A renewal of the democratic foundations of
Philippine society will be essential to combating the pervasive
authoritarian tendencies in Philippine society.” This ultimately
means elimination of oppressive institutions such as the National
Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and reducing the
role of the military in public affairs, both of which played such a
strong anti-democratic role in the electoral process.
Monitoring and reporting
of the international community
“Looking forward, there
needs to be an intensified international focus on the new Marcos-Duterte
government and their ongoing human rights record. The international
community needs to strengthen the capacity of internal and external
human rights organizations to monitor and report on the situation in
the Philippines,” said Peter Murphy, Chairperson of the ICHRP Global
“At the same time, the
international community should continue to hold the outgoing Duterte
team accountable for its abysmal human rights record. This work is
underway at the International Criminal Court, and in the United
Nations Human Rights Council processes, and can be pursued in
national jurisdictions with Magnitsky-style laws. There should be no
hint of a green light for continued human rights violations under
the incoming Marcos-Duterte administration,” Murphy concluded.
A new leg and
renewed hope for a single father in Mindanao
arrived at the DJF office. He learned about the foundation
through the ICRC's social media page. (Photo: M. Lucero/ICRC)
June 6, 2022
MAKATI CITY – “My
heart is crushed each time my children ask for something that I
cannot provide because of my disability,” says Ricardo Tapican.
In July 2019, Ricardo
Tapican lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident. “I was riding
home with my cousin and nephew after a long day at work when the
brakes of my motorcycle failed,” he recalls.
Although his relatives,
who were riding pillion, emerged unscathed from the accident,
Ricardo suffered severe injuries in his right leg. “I thought I was
going to die. On regaining consciousness, my first thoughts were of
my children. I told my nephew to take care of them if anything were
to happen to me,” says the 34-year-old single father of three.
The doctors told Ricardo
that the severity of his injuries had left them no choice but to
amputate his leg. To this day, Ricardo cannot believe what happened
to him. “It’s been three years since the accident and I still cannot
fully accept what happened. My disability has made life very
difficult for me as a single father. I feel that the accident took a
big part of me. I can no longer provide for my children,” says
Ricardo, who is from Agusan del Sur in Mindanao.
The loss of his right leg
made it difficult for him to land a stable, well-paying job. And the
money he earned from odd jobs wasn’t enough to support his children,
forcing him to send them to live with their mother and other
relatives. It was a heart-breaking decision and not one that he
wanted for his kids.
“My children are only 13,
12 and 9 years old. I could not take care of them on my own,
especially with no stable income. I tried, but no one would hire me
after knowing about my disability,” says Ricardo.
He tried to go back to his
old job as a rubber tapper, but the once enjoyable job became an
intensely challenging task with only one leg. “The uneven and
sometimes muddy terrain made it difficult to move around with
crutches. Several times I lost my balance and fell to the ground,”
But Ricardo is not giving
up. He wants his children to finish school because he knows that an
education will open many doors for them in the future.
“I had made a promise to
myself not to neglect or let my children suffer just because their
mother and I separated. When I was still a student, I didn’t take my
education seriously; I want my children to finish school and not end
up like me,” says Ricardo.
Determined to get his life
back on track, Ricardo realized he needed an artificial leg. Three
years after his motorcycle accident and following months of
research, Ricardo came across the Facebook pages of the non-profit
foundation Davao Jubilee Foundation (DJF) and the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which supports the DJF. He
learned about DJF’s rehabilitation work with disabled people in
Ricardo travelled from his
hometown, San Francisco in Agusan del Sur, to DJF’s Davao City
office where, after an evaluation by the DJF staff, he was declared
eligible to receive a prosthesis. Ricardo felt that God had finally
answered his prayers.
“As a father and padre de
pamilya [head of the family], I don’t want to depend on others to
provide for my family. I can’t wait to complete my physical
rehabilitation programme here at DJF and look for a decent job,” he
rehabilitation journey started on 29 March 2022. The DJF provided
him with a physical rehabilitation programme, including a
custom-made prosthesis. He also received unconditional cash grants
from the ICRC to meet his family’s basic needs.
“I was in disbelief when I
first heard that I’d be given a new leg. It felt like a dream. But
after arriving at DJF, the reality of what is happening started to
sink in, that my dream of walking on two legs again is about to come
true,” says Ricardo.
About Davao Jubilee
DJF is a non-governmental
organization located in Davao City, Philippines, that provides a
variety of physical rehabilitation services to disabled people and
people in need of supportive braces, wheelchairs, artificial limbs
or other mobility support devices. The DJF helps all disabled
Filipinos, wherever they may be.
rehabilitation services include physical therapy, custom
manufacturing of artificial limbs, providing orthosis wheelchairs
and mental health and psychosocial (MHPSS) counselling for disabled
people. The ICRC’s close partnership with DJF has improved disabled
people’s access to comprehensive and high-quality physical
rehabilitation services, mitigating the challenging circumstances
they face in the Philippines. The ICRC also supports the
socio-economic needs of vulnerable DJF beneficiaries.
For more details, please
contact Davao Jubilee Foundation at 0975-781-7514 or message them
directly on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/DavaoJubileeFoundation).
livelihood to hobby. Twelve years ago, Mary Ann Parado starting
weaving buli bags as a source of income. Now, even when her life
has significantly improved, she continues to weave bags to bring
happiness to other people.
LYNFA A. TAN
April 6, 2022
SAN PABLO CITY –
For the longest time, creating handicrafts has been one of the major
businesses in the Philippines. Handicrafts promotes the Filipino
heritage and culture. In the Quezon Province, one of the most
popular raw products is buli or the buri tree.
Buli is a common palm
found in the Philippines and can live up to more than 30 years.
Being widely found and due
to its life span of more than 30 years, the palm tree became a
popular resource in the province. In fact, it became the inspiration
for the Bulihan Festival every April in Sampaloc, Quezon Province.
During this time, local producers and investors display their buri
Mary Ann Parado is a local
Buli weaver and microentrepreneur who used to join this festival.
She started making buli products in 2010, allowing her to sustain
the needs of her family of five members. Her income from this
business also supported the educational needs of her children.
However, Mary Ann’s road
to success was not always smooth. There was a time when she almost
lost hope. She received an order from three buyers who refused to
make payments. This almost drained her capital.
This is also the time when
she met CARD Bank, a microfinance-oriented rural bank. The bank does
not only provide financial assistance but also access to
microinsurance, business development service, marketing support and
educational support to its clients. She later on became enticed with
the benefits that CARD Bank offers. With the low interest and
flexible payments, she decided to become a client.
Her first loan amounted to
PhP5,000. Because she managed her fund well, she can now avail a
higher loan that she can use in her other businesses aside from buri
making. Her handicrafts like hats, bags and wallets are now
distributed to various parts of the country. She has also started to
customize her products to be used as gifts and souvenirs for
birthdays and weddings.
During the COVID-19
pandemic, she also found ways to adapt to the new normal. She
started online selling of her products, expanding her network
nationally and internationally.
“If my life would be
compared to a thing, it's definitely the buli. Producing a buli
handicraft involves twisting, criss-crossing and entwining. But
after the complicated process, it turns into a beautiful and useful
product. Same goes with my life, there might be unpredictable twists
in my fate, criss-crossing with my decision-making, and sometimes I
might get entwined with problems, but still I know, everything will
fall in their places,” Mary Jane shared.
Mary Jane has been a
client of CARD Bank for twelve years, while her husband has also
been a CARD client for four years. Through CARD financial
assistance, the couple managed to sustain their business which is
locally known as Prado Handicrafts. They have also availed
educational loans for their children to support school maintenance.
For them, the help they received from CARD is enough to keep their
business alive despite the many challenges.
More dreams, zero
January 20, 2022
SAN PABLO CITY - The number of young people, who were left with no
choice but to drop out of school, reached more than five million for
the academic year 2021-2022.
Angela Habana stands tall and proud with her mother, Nanay
Maria, as one of the Zero Dropout Program beneficiaries of CARD
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has gravely affected the
education of the Filipino youth today. The lack of tools such as
mobile phones and load to access learning materials can be seen as
one of the major setbacks experienced by children today. Now,
parents search far and wide for means to let their children continue
reaching their dreams. Nanay Maria Lina R. Habana is one of them.
Nanay Maria is a mother to five children, one of whom is Ma. Angela,
who is in Grade 7 and is studying in Bula National High School in
Camarines Sur. According to Nanay Maria, one thing that will make
her happy is to witness Ma. Angela achieve her own dream of becoming
Fortunately, with Ma. Angela’s perseverance and knack for learning,
she became a consistent honor student from the time she stepped
Grade 1 to Grade 6. Ma. Angela’s potential became Nanay Maria and
her husband’s inspiration to work hard for their children, not only
to fill their basic needs, but to support their individual dreams.
The Habanas are known to be hardworking. Nanay Maria buys and sells
vegetables and other goods, while her husband works in a vulcanizing
shop in Manila to get by with their daily expenses. However,
education is a different matter altogether. With huge educational
expenses left and right, financial assistance is needed to support
their family altogether.
CARD Bank, a microfinance-oriented rural bank that supports
marginalized communities with access to financial products,
services, and other social development programs, became Nanay
Maria’s partner in their journey to reach their goals in life. In
her 12 years of being a CARD Bank client, she has availed the Zero
Dropout Program of CARD several times to support the education of
The Zero Dropout Program is an educational loan product of CARD MRI
that supports students’ education in elementary, high school, and
senior high school. Offered exclusively to CARD MRI clients with
children or relatives who want to continue studying, this loan has a
maximum amount of PhP 10,000 for junior and senior high school. This
is applicable to students like Ma. Angela who is currently in junior
The financial aid that the Habanas received for Ma. Angela’s
schooling eliminated the anxiety Nanay Maria had towards the
education of her children, especially during a time when the
COVID-19 pandemic impacted the Philippines’ educational system.
Now, Ma. Angela is in Grade 7. Even with schools closed and a threat
of dropping out of school looming over the students’ heads, this
does not weaken Nanay Maria’s faith in pursuing her and Ma. Angela’s
dreams. For Nanay Maria and millions of other CARD clients, here is
to more dreams and zero dropouts.
Ma. Angela is just one of the 1,235,768 beneficiaries of the Zero
Dropout Program of CARD MRI as of December 2021. To know more about
CARD’s educational loan, message CARD MRI at @CARDMRIOfficial or
visit any CARD, Inc. (A Microfinance NGO), CARD Bank, CARD SME Bank,
or CARD MRI RIZAL BANK branches or unit offices near you!
Taste of Home: Grace
Dalisay’s car trunk surprise in Lemery, Batangas
November 26, 2021
PABLO CITY – Sending good wishes to friends and loved ones has
always been accompanied with big celebrations. May it be a beach
party, a vacation abroad, or a get together with close pals at home,
the Filipinos make time for special occasions and often celebrate it
with a big feast.
Dalisay smiles in front of her car trunk surprise for a
seven-year-old birthday celebrator in Lemery, Batangas.
the COVID-19 pandemic left families bereft of grand celebrations.
Birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries were celebrated with small,
immediate families, more often than not, at home.
The pandemic should have crippled businesses related to food, events,
and party services, but one family in Lemery, Batangas, took the
pandemic as a challenge and came up with a way to celebrate in a
practical, fun, and safe manner.
Gracelda “Grace” Dalisay and her family were dining together, when a
portion of cooked food and camote with cheese were left untouched.
From here, they tried to sell the excess to neighbors who were more
than enthusiastic to try Grace’s cooking. As days passed, the
Dalisay family was urged to hold a small surprise for a few close
friends who were celebrating their birthday, but due to the
pandemic, this was no small feat. However, with the new seven-seater
minivan they loaned from CARD SME Bank, the Dalisay family explored
the idea of using the vehicle to hold what is now popularly known as
a car trunk surprise.
These were the beginnings of Taste of Home, the Dalisay’s food
delivery service that holds car trunk surprises for those
celebrating their birthday, anniversary, and other special events in
the comforts of their home.
A Taste of Success
The family business started in February 2020, ironically, at the
onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to cater to families who want to
celebrate special occasions without breaking the government’s
protocol, which is set to immobilize the spread of the virus.
Together with her husband and her sister, Grace cooks an assortment
of food including pasta, noodle dishes like pansit, various Filipino
delicacies including maja and puto, sandwiches, spring rolls, and
With a car trunk surprise, not only is food delivered to the
doorsteps of a family, but it also prevents families from stepping
out of their homes and risk compromising their health. It also
brings incredible joy to families in the midst of a health crisis
that affects the rest of the world.
Through word of mouth, Grace’s car surprise has reached different
parts of Batangas, Cavite, and Laguna. According to Grace, their
minivan became a big part of their lives as it brought them a steady
source of income during the pandemic.
“The car we loaned is a blessing to us. We are grateful to CARD SME
Bank for giving us a chance to own a car that we have never dreamt
of using for our business. With the grace of God, we have never
lacked anything because of this. I am really grateful,” Grace said.
Through her son, Grace and her family availed the Drive Ur Wheels
car loan amounting to P1,000,000 from CARD SME Bank, a
full-fledged thrift bank that provides financial assistance,
microinsurance, and other community development programs to
microentrepreneurs and their family.
The Journey with CARD
Grace has been a client of CARD since 2007. From CARD, Inc., she was
then transitioned later to CARD SME Bank. Therefore, CARD has been a
witness to her journey from being an overseas Filipino worker to a
cook in a small restaurant in Mahayahay in Lemery, Batangas, to
finally being a businesswoman of her own car trunk surprise service.
CARD was also present in her children’s life, particularly with her
second youngest son, Victor Manuel, who was a recipient of the
educational loan during his time at Batangas Science High School.
Aside from these milestones, Grace is also now an authorized
konek2CARD Agent in their community since May 2021. A konek2CARD
Agent is a trusted partner of CARD in bringing konek2CARD, its
mobile banking service, closer to clients in the community. Through
agents like Grace, clients of CARD SME Bank can withdraw, deposit,
pay their bills, and settle their weekly dues without going to the
Grace is currently holding 14 centers with a total of P250,000
collected payments weekly and P1,000,000 monthly. Through
konek2CARD, Grace earns an extra income that she uses for leisure
activities to bond with her husband and their children.
If there is one thing the Dalisays are good at, it is celebrating
small wins in life and sharing their family’s love and joy with
other people. With Taste of Home, Grace and her family believe that
people can still celebrate and create memories with their loved ones
even in the midst of adversities.
Braving storms; One
Paborita at a time
August 27, 2021
SAN PABLO CITY – The outpouring rain brought by Typhoon Glenda may have torn through
the Philippines in 2014, but it has also watered the beginnings of Fadullo’s Bakery and their paborita business. Specializing in soft
bread, Irene Fadullo and her husband have been in the baking
business in Lipa City, Batangas since 2008. Four years later, the
couple ventured into baking paborita crackers, but it did not become
popular in the market instantly. They lacked the necessary permits
to continue the production of the paborita.
However, opportunity stormed through the Fadullos as they weathered
Typhoon Glenda with fresh will and perseverance. As a great demand
for paborita dominated the market, the Fadullos worked day and night
through the power cut in Lipa, Batangas to produce their biscuits.
At first, they had to leave one bundle (100 pcs.) of paborita in the
market and wait for a call to retrieve their unsold crackers back to
their bakery. One day, an unexpected call came asking for more
paborita to be delivered to them.
From then on, the Fadullos started delivering 30 bundles to the
market every week. As their production grew, their need for extra
capital also intensified. They sought the help of CARD SME Bank in
growing their business, starting with a P2,000 loan which helped
them to purchase flour. To increase their production, they decided
to loan P10,000 to buy a secondhand oven. This helped them in
constantly supplying their growing market for paborita.
Now, the Fadullos have increased their capacity by employing their
relatives as well as students with their parents’ consent. This
allows them to provide a source of living to their community and
train the youth to prepare them for their future.
The Fadullos are also now using 31 ovens to help them with their
production. Now, they create 432 bundles of paborita every day.
Walking with CARD has also led the Fadullos to cross paths with
CARD-Business Development Service Foundation, Inc. (CARD-BDSFI)
which helped them improve their facility and secure their
accreditation with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Aside
from this, the Fadullos were also introduced to Mga Likha Ni Inay (MLNI)
which supports underprivileged communities through the promotion of
their local products. With the Fadullo’s excellent performance and
contribution to their community, the couple became an awardee in
Pagkilala sa mga Likha ni Inay as the “Gawad Maunlad” in 2017, which
won them P50,000 and a computer package.
Because of the relationship they have built, the Fadullos also
supplied paborita to MLNI that continually promotes and sells their
products to its market. Hijos Tours also integrated the Fadullos
paborita to their travel boxes, proof that CARD has absorbed the
paborita as one of its staple products.
Irene also appreciates the programs offered by CARD to its clients.
“CARD has various programs that will help every individual grow.
Aside from absorbing our products, they also provide trainings on
financial management which helped us greatly,” Irene shared.
However, the pandemic became one more storm they had to overcome to
succeed. The COVID-19 pandemic birthed not only health-related
problems but also competitors who do not have permits but sell
paborita at a cheaper price. Because of this, the Fadullo’s
customers have set their sights on different paborita suppliers. To
counter this problem, Irene set up their own Facebook page where
customers may order paborita when not available in the market.
“As an entrepreneur, you need to know the kind of business you are
dealing with,” Irene said. She continued, “More importantly, you
should trust the product you are selling. You should not give up
easily,” Irene concluded.
With the Fadullo’s dedication and their unceasing mission to grow
their business, the Lipa-based bakery is sure to conquer storms one
paborita at a time.
For two mothers,
justice harder to reach amid pandemic
mothers share how it feels to be prisoners of misery. On top of the
uncertainties brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, Marites Asis
agonizes over how the justice system has treated her daughter and
her late granddaughter, baby River, while Barbara Ruth Angeles has
to endure the loss of a daughter to sickness while seeking justice
for her son, who’s been in jail for months.
AIE BALAGTAS SEE
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
December 2, 2020
The wheels of justice are
grinding exceedingly slow for Marites Asis and Barbara Ruth Angeles.
Marites is the mother of
Reina Mae “Ina” Nasino, an urban poor leader who was arrested in
Manila in November 2019. Ina learned she was pregnant weeks before
her transfer to Manila City Jail and gave birth to baby River on
July 1, only to be separated from her newborn after a month.
Marites became worried not
only over Ina’s freedom and safety, but also over baby River’s
health. River, who was dependent on formula milk and donations from
the milk bank, was confined at the Philippine General Hospital after
contracting pneumonia in September. Baby River’s death sparked
public outrage as Ina was not allowed to visit the hospital and was
given only six hours to say goodbye to her baby.
Painter Barbara Ruth
Angeles has a similar story. It’s been months since she last saw her
son Inno, who was arrested on what she said were trumped-up drug
charges in Quezon City in 2018. To add to her misery, Inno’s older
and only sister died of bladder problems in August.
Inno was not able to say
Barbara Ruth has yet to
properly mourn the sudden passing of her eldest child as she is busy
earning a living while finding ways to free Inno. Barbara Ruth is
also busy taking care of her 12-year-old granddaughter, who is now
Marites and Barbara Ruth
are free but mired in misery that could only be cured by the
delivery of justice.
Here are their stories, in
their own words.
Justice is heavy handed for Reina Mae
Nasino and baby River
Marites Asis (as told to Aie
I found out that my
daughter Ina was pregnant the same time Covid-19 struck. I felt the
weight of heaven crash down on me.
I couldn’t give an
interview without crying. At night, I even cry myself to sleep.
You’d think I was crazy.
I learned about my
daughter’s pregnancy in February, a few weeks before the police were
set to transfer her to Manila City Jail.
That’s why when lockdowns
were imposed, I was anxious. You need social distancing, but they’re
cramped in a dormitory that houses 111 people.
It seemed risky for my
daughter to be pregnant and at the same time detained in jail, where
she could catch the virus.
I was asleep when Ina was
arrested [on Nov. 5, 2019]. Someone went to my house at about 5 a.m.
and told me about Ina’s arrest. The person said she was taken to the
CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) office in Manila
Police District (MPD). In short, I rushed to MPD around 5 a.m.
I was hysterical.
I went to Ate Vicky, my
older sister, the woman who raised all of us, including Ina. We
consider her our mother.
Ate Vicky said we should
go to MPD. At MPD headquarters, however, they did not allow us to
see Ina immediately.
Investigators were asking
them if they really owned those guns.
I was furious.
The police planted
evidence against Ina. I know my daughter. They planted guns and
grenades. During the arrest, the cops covered their faces with
pillows. Who in his right mind would do that to our youth?
It hurts so much to see
your child in jail.
You couldn’t even go out
because of coronavirus. You’re stuck at home. Anxious and worried.
Before coronavirus hit, I
would visit her in jail every day. I never missed a visit until
visitation rights were cancelled last March.
With the lockdown in
place, I felt helpless.
I always wonder how my
daughter is doing. Is she eating well? Can she take a shower in
private or do they take showers in groups?
I pity my daughter.
Because of the virus, we
could not see each other, especially when she was still pregnant.
Covid-19 exacerbated my pain.
She said maybe I could see
her again in October.
It’s difficult. It’s
really, really difficult. I couldn’t sleep at night. I would always
think of her. She would talk to us through video calls, and we were
happy to see her tummy grow.
But I felt so guilty. I
couldn’t take care of my own daughter.
Ina was supposed to give
birth on July 10 but she gave birth nine days early, on July 1.
I didn't even see her at
I was asleep. A jail
personnel called me at midnight. She instructed me to go to Fabella
Hospital as Ina was about to give birth.
I rushed to Ate Vicky once
again. Together we went to Fabella, hoping we could be by my
daughter’s side on that important day.
When we got there, the
hospital administration said visitors were not allowed because of
their Covid-19 protocols.
Anyway, the hospital said
Ina had given birth.
Ate Vicky and I went back
to Fabella on July 3 to bring diapers and water for the baby.
The security guards said
my daughter was still there. They didn’t allow us to see her, so we
asked if they could hand the package over to Ina.
On our way home, about
noontime, Ate Vicky’s phone rang. It was Ina. She said the baby was
crying because she could not produce milk. The baby was hungry.
It baffled us because we
thought she was still in the hospital. Ina said they returned to
jail on July 2.
No one told us. We just
found out. That gave us another bout of sharp pain.
The security guards played us for fools!
We attended to Ina first. When we reached the city jail, we were
told the baby was already given formula milk.
Then we stormed Fabella Hospital to confront the guards. We demanded
that they return the diapers and water. Those belong to us.
They didn’t even want to return the water and diapers, so I
complained at the hospital’s information center.
I last saw Ina when she handed the baby to us on [Aug. 13].
We barely met her. We were not supposed to see Ina. I just asked the
warden if I could have a glimpse of my daughter.
How do I feel? I’m filled with pain. I can witness the suffering of
I felt that Ina and my granddaughter did not want to be separated
from each other.
How I feel about Ina is the same with how she feels about my
I don’t know why they treated her that way. As a mother, I felt
hurt. I don’t know how to explain it. She is not convicted yet.
It was painful to watch them [policemen and jail guards] surround my
daughter. It’s okay if they made her wear PPE (personal protective
equipment) because she needed to go back to jail. But to handcuff
her? As if it’s not a wake.
I have yet to move on.
I skip social media posts that remind me of what happened because
they bring back memories of when she was handcuffed at the wake. She
was looking at her child. She was not able to come close to her
Then there’s the memory of men with high-powered guns barging in to
inspect the room and the toilet because they were afraid of getting
You see? They did not give us the chance to bond.
That day, I ran out of tears to cry. All I could do was call them
I didn’t have any tears left to cry after seeing my daughter’s
It was difficult to cry because I was enraged. I asked them to leave
the room because we didn’t need guns there.
They didn’t have to guard the burial. There were so many of them
that they outnumbered the mourners.
I tried to appeal to their hearts. I told them we knew it was an
order and we couldn’t do anything. Just the same I hoped they
realized it was a burial and a mother would be separated from her
I only wish they had thought of that.
During our last conversation at the cemetery, Ina told me: “Ma, it’s
okay to put the baby inside the niche.”
Ina held my hand twice: during the wake and during the burial.
She told me: “Ma, give me your hand.” She held it tight.
She was trying to tell me that I needed to be strong. I told her:
“Be strong, we will fight back.”
I’m okay. But it’s not easy to forget because the trauma is still
there. I can go to work now.
Ina said it’s not yet the end of everything.
I filed a legal complaint over what they did during the baby's wake
and burial. How will I attain justice if I don’t complain? This
should serve them a lesson because they must not treat other people
the way they treated us.
Baby River died of pneumonia on Oct. 9. The court gave Reina Mae a
couple of three-hour furloughs to bid her child goodbye. The first
was to visit the wake, the second was to bury her child.
Not even an inch of her skin was able to touch River’s coffin. She
was made to wear a full hazmat suit during the visits because of the
threat of Covid-19. She was in handcuffs most of the time and was
surrounded by heavily armed government forces.
Their family was never given a chance to grieve.
Legal shortcuts in the drug war: From
‘palit-ulo’ to ‘amin-laya’
Barbara Ruth Angeles (as told to
Aie Balagtas See)
My son Inno will enter
into a plea-bargain agreement. I don’t have any choice left. I have
to take him out of jail.
My son does not want it,
but I have no choice. How else are we going to set him free? That
was why we opted for “amin-laya” (plea bargain).
The advice came from
lawyers and BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) personnel.
They said it’s his first offense anyway.
I’m worried for my son, of
course, as entering into a plea bargain means having a permanent
criminal record. It’s similar to being convicted already, although
he is innocent.
But my son’s case has been
pending in court for two years. Within that period we only had about
four hearings even if the court had released a monthly schedule.
Reset. Reset. Reset.
Since my son couldn’t
prove his innocence in court, I told him that once he’s free, it’s
up to him to prove to himself that he’s not what the government had
accused him of.
Besides, the cops offered
this solution to us before, and they promised us they wouldn’t
I can take better care of
my son if he’s with me. I can tell him, “Don’t go out, don’t go with
I just want this problem
to end. We’re all suffering because of it.
Then, there’s the
pandemic. The BJMP does not tell us the exact number of inmates
infected with Covid-19. It’s difficult because it’s congested there.
Actually, I had to take
risks and buy my son a P15,000 kubol (hut) so he could have his own
space, and that’s just plywood about a quarter of a meter in size.
It is very expensive
inside city jails. You’re aware of this: If you are poor, you will
starve to death inside our jails.
Since visitation rights
are suspended, my son and I communicate with each other through
phone calls. Imagine this: to get in touch with me, he needs to buy
call cards worth P100 for P300. The BJMP asks you to buy the call
cards from them.
I won’t tell you the exact
amount that I spend on my son but his budget for a week is my budget
for two weeks.
I don’t know what else
could happen. That’s why I said, “Son, just plead guilty.”
My son was arrested on May
3 (2018). Arrests of drug suspects spiked during that period because
of the drug war “quota”. I learned about that so-called quota from
the BJMP personnel. They blamed it for their population boom.
Go back to the day Galas
police station was raided over an extortion case. That’s how we
learned Inno was there.
At first, we had no idea
that Inno had been arrested. We looked for him in barangay halls and
police stations. We reported him as missing because we couldn’t
reach his phone.
I kept crying.
My daughter and I searched
everywhere. I thought he was killed because deaths related to bike
theft were rampant those days, so we scoured hospitals and funeral
I posted about our search
for Inno on Facebook. One of my school batchmates advised me to
report it to 8888. I reported it to the Duterte hotline 8888 but it
was not able to help us.
On May 4, Galas Police
Station was raided over an extortion case involving its
A police investigator called me and said: “Go to Galas Police
Station immediately. Your son is here. Bring food and clothes.”
I was shocked. How did he
end up there?
No one entertained me at
the police station until I lost my cool.
Someone from GMA News told
me to get a good lawyer.
At that time, hiring a
private lawyer cost P300,000. Our case got delayed because we
couldn’t find one. Some were too old. His grandmother found someone
but I think he’s from Aklan.
We couldn’t grasp what was
happening. We were desperate to find a lawyer. It was mental
torture. We weren’t used to this. It was the first time someone in
the family got involved in a court case.
The most enraging part was
my son didn’t violate any law.
You know, initially, the
police didn’t even have a record of his arrest.
I talked to detainees and
some policemen at Galas. I learned that the SAID (Station
Anti-Illegal Drugs Division) cops were supposed to kill Inno as a
replacement for big fish that they’re extorting money from.
The policemen in Galas
said my son was intended for “palit-ulo.” (Palit-ulo, which
literally means head-swapping, is a scheme in which a drug suspect
gets freedom in exchange for ratting out on his or her suppliers.)
They said it was for a
“zero-zero.” You know zero-zero?
That meant they would kill
The policemen tortured my
I have evidence, including
the medico-legal report, and X-ray and CT scan results.
At the hospital, the
doctor said he had fractured ribs. They also saw a “metallic
forensic” in his left leg.
The doctor did not want
him to leave, but Galas police did not allow him to be operated on.
Despite his fractures and injuries, Galas turned him over to the
We lost the chance to have
him treated. His wounds eventually healed in jail.
You asked how I’m doing?
It’s the first time
someone asked me that question.
Well, I’m not… I’m not
okay. I try to do my normal routine but emotionally, no, I’m not
okay. My daughter died in August while my son is in jail. She’s my
eldest and the only one I could rely on to deal with this problem.
We were able to get hold
of the CCTV [showing Inno’s illegal arrest] because of her.
I still couldn’t accept
that my daughter had passed away.
Inno was not able to say
goodbye. They had not seen each other for two years.
She was sick but was not
confined. Her resistance was down and I was afraid that she might
catch the virus in the hospital.
My daughter left behind
three children. The eldest child, an 11-year-old girl, does not have
a father. I’m taking care of her.
My granddaughter is
already worried that her life will fall apart if something happens
to me. I told her, nothing’s going to happen to me because I still
have a purpose in life.
I have faith in the Lord.
I never questioned God for
everything that I’m going through. I know he will not give me these
trials if I cannot overcome them.
I’m trying to be strong
for my son and for my granddaughter. If I falter, who would be
strong for them.
But it’s difficult.
I think my daughter is
guiding me. I feel better now. I started painting again 40 days
after her death.
I used to paint with dark
colors, colors that you can associate with death. This time, I’m
using positive and vibrant colors. My artwork seems alive.
Do I have peace of mind?
No. I can only have peace
of mind when my son is finally with me. -- PCIJ, December 2020
Balagtas See is a freelance journalist working on human rights
issues. Follow her on Twitter (@AieBalagtasSee) or email her at
email@example.com for comments.
Inspired by The Marshall Project's Life Inside, Marites' and
Barbara's stories are part of PCIJ’s series on the criminal justice
system, which includes first-person accounts from current and former
detainees and their family members.
Dumagat woman breastfeeds her six-month-old baby while
waiting for their sitio’s turn to line up for relief
protection of breastfeeding practices reap rewards
ANGELICA CARBALLO PAGO
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
October 21, 2020
Exclusive breastfeeding among infants 0 to 5.9 months has nearly
doubled, from 30 percent in 2003 to 58 percent in 2019.
Women should still
breastfeed despite the pandemic, even those found to be positive for
Covid-19, according to a Department of Health (DOH) memorandum. This
shows how the government has been relentless in promoting
breastfeeding in the face of a formidable opponent – milk
manufacturing giants who have made their way into the consciousness
of Filipino mothers through massive advertising.
Despite the passage of the Milk Code 33 years ago, myths and
unfounded beliefs persist amid aggressive promotions by milk
manufacturers that claim to give a child advantage in terms of
health and IQ points.
Only 35.1 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed until 5 months
of age, according to the 2019 Expanded National Nutrition Survey of
the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition
Research Institute (DOST-FNRI), although exclusive breastfeeding
percentages have been increasing since 2003, but took a dip in 2015.
Nathalie Verceles, director of the University of the Philippines
Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, said the Milk Code was meant
to protect the interest of mothers and babies from aggressive
marketing strategies of formula milk companies. (See related story:
Milk and the pandemic: Milk Code confusion cripples LGUs response
Mothers need support, according to Save the Children Philippines
health and nutrition adviser Dr. Amado Parawan. A mother’s decision
to breastfeed, he said, predates the birth of the child and will
depend on what she believes – or is made to believe. This decision
can also be affected by the support she gets – or doesn’t get – from
home, work and community.
Mota shows the bottle used to feed baby Pia, when her family was
able to scrape a few hundred pesos to buy formula milk.
Here’s a timeline of breastfeeding policies and how they have
influenced breastfeeding rates.
May 1981 – The International Code on Marketing of Breastmilk
Substitutes is adopted by the World Health Assembly. The aim is to
protect and promote breastfeeding by ensuring appropriate marketing
and distribution of breastmilk substitutes.
20 October 1986 – President Corazon Aquino signs Executive Order 51
or the Milk Code with its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).
The Code regulates advertising of breastmilk substitutes, including
infant formula, other milk products, foods and beverages, feeding
bottles and teats.
1990 – Guided by the World Health Assembly resolutions, which state
that “follow-on or follow-up formulas are unnecessary because after
six months the baby starts to take complementary foods together with
sustained breastfeeding,” improvements were introduced on the IRR,
such as the ban on follow-on formulas. This was prompted by the 1987
Wyeth's invention of follow-on milk for children aged six months and
above that undermined the importance of breastfeeding. When the Milk
Code was being drafted, follow-on milk was not yet invented.
“Complementary food” includes food that is part of the local
2 June 1992 – The Rooming-In and Breast-Feeding Act, Republic Act
(RA) 7600, is passed, provides legal basis for rooming-in as a
national policy to encourage, protect and support breastfeeding.
2003 – The exclusive breastfeeding percentage among infants 0-5.9
months stands at 29.7 percent.
2004 – The Task Force Milk Code begins discussion and debate on the
first draft of the revised IRR of the Milk Code. Among those
consulted was Swiss multinational Nestlé, who represented formula
23 May 2005 – DOH Administrative Order (AO) 2006-0014 or the
National Policies on Infant and Young Children is issued. It states
that in times of crisis, breastfeeding is the first and best feeding
option for infants and young children. It requires mothers and
babies to remain together after delivery. Support must be given for
mothers to breastfeed even in crisis or emergencies.
2006 – The Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association of the Philippines
(PHAP) seeks a temporary restraining order on the revised IRR’s
implementation. After initially denying PHAP’s petition, the court
overturns its decision and issues a TRO on the revised IRR.
28 May 2007 – DOH AO 2007-0017 or the “Guidelines on the Acceptance
and Processing of Foreign and Local Donations during Emergency and
Disaster Situations,” states that “Infant formula, breastmilk
substitutes, feeding bottles, artificial nipples and teats shall not
be items for donation. No acceptance of donation shall be issued for
any of the enumerated items.”
09 October 2007 – The revised IRR of the Milk Code takes effect
after the Supreme Court partially upholds its validity. It strikes
down certain provisions, such as the prohibition on advertising and
promotion of breastmilk substitutes and introduces sanctions not
found in the law.
01 April 2008 – The Department of the Interior and Local Government
releases AO 2008-0055, or the “Guidelines on the acceptance and
processing of foreign and local donations during emergency and
disaster situations.” It endorses DOH AO 2007-0017 to all local
2008 – The exclusive breastfeeding percentage among infants 0-5.9
months rises to 35.9 percent.
16 March 2009 – RA 10028 or the Expanded Breastfeeding Act, which
amends RA 7600, is signed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. It
establishes standards for workplaces, health facilities (with the
establishment of milk banks) and public places, and calls for
breastfeeding breaks and designated facilities in the workplace.
2011 – The exclusive
breastfeeding percentage among infants 0-5.9 months rises anew, to
21 December 2012 – RA
10354 or The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of
2012 is signed by President Benigno Aquino III. It includes
breastfeeding as an element of reproductive health care and provides
a basis for breastfeeding promotion and education.
2013 – More than half, or
52.3 percent, of infants 0-5.9 months are exclusively breastfed.
2015 – The exclusive
breastfeeding percentage among infants 0-5.9 months dips for the
first time to 48.8 percent.
29 November 2018 – RA
11148 or the “Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act” is signed by
President Rodrigo Duterte. The law seeks to address the malnutrition
of infants and young and lactating women.
2018 – The exclusive
breastfeeding percentage among infants 0-5.9 months recovers
slightly to 54.9 percent.
17 April 2019 – RA 11311
or “An Act to Improve Land Transportation Terminals, Stations,
Stops, Rest Areas and Roll-On/Roll-Off Terminals, Appropriating
Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes,” establishes lactation
stations in transport terminals, stations, stops and rest areas.
2019 – Exclusive
breastfeeding improves to 57.9 percent.
11 May 2020 – DOH
Memorandum No. 2020-0237 or the “Interim Guidelines for the Delivery
of Nutrition Services in the Context of COVID-19 Pandemic” states
that mothers who are asymptomatic, or those with close contacts,
suspect, probable, or confirmed case of COVID-19 who do not have
severe illness and/or who are not in respiratory distress, can
continue breastfeeding, provided that they observe strict infection
15 May 2020 – DOH
Memorandum No. 2020-0231 or the “Guidelines on the Standardized
Regulation of Donations, Related to EO 51,” provides guidelines on
how LGUs can help provide nutrition for non-breastfeeding children
under 3 years old. While donations are banned as stipulated in
various laws and orders, LGUs can procure formula milk and give them
to identified families. The memorandum still upholds the promotion
and protection of breastfeeding for infants and young children.
Food and Nutrition Research Institute for breastfeeding data
Babymilkaction.org for Milk Code RIRR timeline
breastfeeds her child, two-month old Pia, not their real
names, inside their house in Barangay Inarawan, Antipolo
City. Hazel's mother, Maryjoy Mota, posted several
comments on social media asking for help in buying
formula milk for her infant grandchild after the
enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was enforced in
March. The family's breadwinner, Ricky, lost his job as
a construction worker when the ECQ began. Hazel and her
boyfriend are teenage students with no jobs. With little
money to buy formula milk for Pia, Maryjoy encouraged
Hazel to breastfeed her infant daughter.
Milk and the
pandemic: Milk Code confusion cripples LGUs response for infants
ANGELICA CARBALLO PAGO
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
October 8, 2020
indiscriminate distribution and use of breastmilk substitutes,
especially during emergencies, can change feeding practices and put
babies at greater risk of illness.
What you need to know
about this story:
- Experts are calling for
measures to ensure the health and safety of infant and young
children, which can easily be undermined by the milk industry’s
aggressive marketing initiatives.
- The Milk Code does not
ban formula milk procurement and distribution by local government
units, provided they follow guidelines set by the Department of
- Marketing and
advertising of products within the scope of the Milk Code, however,
are prohibited. Donations of formula milk and breastfeeding
substitutes from manufacturers and distributors of these products
- Local government units
are clueless to the finer details of breastfeeding and infant and
young child nutrition laws, to the detriment of mothers, infants and
young children in need especially during the current Covid-19
- Milk companies use
disasters and crises to market their products, and DOH data show a
rise in Milk Code violations during the enhanced community
Here’s one unintended
consequence of the Covid-19 health emergency: Parents and guardians
are desperately finding ways to feed their babies, with some even
begging on the streets or on social media. With lockdowns making it
harder to provide proper and adequate food for the family, their
health and nutrition -- especially of babies -- are at risk.
attempted to solve the problem by distributing formula milk to
mothers, only to find out that donations are not allowed by the Milk
Code, a 1986 law regulating the marketing and distribution of
Worse, formula milk makers
seem to be taking advantage of the situation to undermine strict
government regulations, experts observed.
During the Enhanced
Community Quarantine (ECQ) in March, Maryjoy Mota, a 37-year-old
resident of Antipolo, posted on the Antipolo City Facebook group
that her two-month-old granddaughter needed diapers and formula
17-year-old Hazel, had just given birth to Pia (not their real
names), two weeks before the ECQ was enforced throughout Luzon in
mid-March. Maryjoy’s post drew a hundred other comments from mothers
and guardians in the same situation.
With Hazel giving birth to
Pia two weeks ahead of her due date, the doctor immediately
prescribed a formula milk brand, PreNan, developed for premature
newborns. Weighing just 1.7 kilograms, the baby had to be placed in
“We were not given any
other options or brands, nor given any instructions or assistance to
start breastfeeding,” Maryjoy said.
Even when Hazel went for check-ups at the barangay and the district
health centers before she gave birth, there were no instructions on
breastfeeding, which could have helped them save some money instead
of spending it on formula milk, she said.
comment on Antipolo City’s Facebook page, asking for milk
and diapers for her grandchild.
Sought for comment, an official of the Rizal Provincial Hospital
System - Antipolo Annex 1, who asked not to be named, insisted that
the hospital followed breastfeeding protocols. But Pia weighed below
the 2.5-kilogram birth weight threshold and showed signs of sepsis,
the official said.
The formula milk prescribed to Pia met the baby’s caloric
requirements, which might not be sustained by breastfeeding, the
But with no income, it was
impossible to buy the 400-gram can of milk, which costs P641.
Maryjoy’s common-law husband, Ricky, lost his construction job
because of the pandemic, while Pia’s parents were unemployed
While some local leaders
were aware of the plight of new mothers like Hazel, the Milk Code
posed an obstacle. Sangguniang Kabataan Chairman Arky Manning of
Barangay San Isidro in Taytay, Rizal learned this the hard way.
The Department of Health (DOH)
gave Manning a memo for violating Executive Order (EO) 51, or the
Milk Code of 1986, by “accepting and distributing milk formula
donations” given to mothers with infants in Taytay in April and May
Manning explained that it
was part of the “Tulong Kay Baby” (help for baby) project, a
donation drive that he had organized with his friends. They bought
milk and diapers using funds given by private individuals. No mass
distribution or random donation of milk happened, he claimed.
Manning was one of the 291
violators flagged by the DOH from March 1 to July 24, largely
covering the ECQ period in Luzon. Reports of violations came from
the general public, submitted through http://mbfp.doh.gov.ph. MBFP,
which stands for DOH’s Mother and Baby-Friendly Philippines, is the
reporting platform for violations of the Milk Code and the Expanded
Breastfeeding Act of 2009 (Republic Act 10028).
The list of violators
included health workers, non-profit organizations, and local
executives such as Manning, and Mayors Andrea Henares of Antipolo
City and Marcy Teodoro of Marikina City. Also on the list were
celebrities such as Say Alonzo and Marian Rivera Dantes, who
together with Nido, a brand that Dantes endorses, and the YesPinoy
Foundation, were reported to have distributed follow-on formula.
Dantes even posted it on Instagram to her 9.4 million followers.
EO 51 issued by former
President Corazon C. Aquino, otherwise known as the Philippine Milk
Code of 1986 or simply, the Milk Code, regulates the marketing of
breastmilk substitutes, including milk formula, breastmilk
supplements and other similar products by prohibiting the
advertising and promotion, whether written, audio or visual, for
such products. It adheres to the International Code on Marketing of
Breastmilk Substitutes, adopted by the World Health Assembly in May
1981. Breastfeeding advocates have hailed the Milk Code as one of
the strongest breastfeeding protection laws in the world.
The Milk Code’s Revised
Implementing Rules and Regulations (RIRR), released 30 years after
the law was signed, prohibits the donation of infant formula and
breastmilk. Administrative orders from the DOH and the Department of
the Interior and Local Government (DILG) further disallow the
donation of infant formula milk and breastmilk substitutes in times
of disasters and calamities.
According to data from the
Food and Nutrition Research Institute, exclusive breastfeeding rates
have continuously gone up in the last 10 years, reaching 57.9
percent in 2019. The global exclusive breastfeeding rate stands at
41 percent. The United Nations targets to increase global
breastfeeding rates to 50 percent by 2025.
Marketing is prohibited, the milk is not
Maria Rosario Vergeire said the law did not bar local government
units (LGUs) from procuring formula milk.
“If local government units
procure formula milk, the law does not cover it. EO 51 is a
regulatory tool used by the Department of Health to regulate the
advertisement of manufacturers that formula milk is more important
than a mother’s milk. That’s our first objective -- we would like to
know that breastmilk is still the best for babies,” she said.
DOH Memorandum No.
2020-0231, dated May 15, 2020, laid down the guidelines on the
standardized regulation of donations covered by the Milk Code.
Formula milk and breastmilk substitutes can still be provided to
those in need, with the following conditions:
1. The local government
unit buys it using its own budget (procurement);
2. Breastmilk should still
be the first choice and the procured formula milk is given to
identified mothers/infants, not distributed en masse;
preparation and use of breastmilk substitute and formula milk must
be done under the supervision of health and nutrition workers;
4. There should be no
brand name, logo or identifiable marks of the manufacturer; and
5. No public relations,
announcement or the likes may occur.
Dr. Mianne Silvestre,
executive director of Kalusugan ng Mag-Ina (mother’s health)
Foundation, echoed Vergeire’s explanation.
“The Milk Code is there to
regulate the marketing and advertising of formula milk and
breastfeeding substitutes, and not to penalize parents who give
these products to their children,” Silvestre said. “Nobody goes to
jail for feeding formula milk to their babies.”
Sharing a similar view,
Dr. Paul Zambrano, a technical specialist at Alive and Thrive, a
private initiative to reduce child undernutrition by improving
infant and young child feeding practices, said: “Marketing (of
formula milk and breastmilk substitutes) will undermine the practice
of breastfeeding and complementary feeding with healthy food after
six months. It’s meant to save lives. It is meant to prevent the top
killers of children in that age group – diarrhea and pneumonia. ”
The problem, Silvestre
said, was that formula milk was being marketed as the first option
instead of breastfeeding. This goes against the hierarchy of infant
feeding choices laid out in the Global Strategy for Infant and Young
Child Feeding published by the World Health Organization (WHO),
which states that donated breast milk from a wet nurse or milk bank
takes precedence over formula milk.
Even for Covid-19 positive
mothers, the WHO still recommends continued breastfeeding and
rooming of babies with their mothers. Transmission of Covid-19
through breastmilk or breastfeeding has not been established.
No guidance for LGUs
What can and cannot be
done under the code does not seem to be clear to local governments,
even to the DILG. In an interview with PCIJ, Interior Undersecretary
Jonathan Malaya, affirmed that the ban extends to selective
distribution of milk to identified mothers and babies and referred
to the National Nutrition Council website for guiding policies.
Taytay’s Manning said no
guidance came from any government agency, particularly the DOH or
DILG, on how they could respond to the needs of mothers and their
During the quarantine,
local officials, such as Quezon City Councilor Ariel Inton,
repeatedly appealed to the DOH to lift the ban on milk donations.
In a Facebook livestream,
Inton, a lawyer, gave practical advice to barangay officials
planning to distribute formula milk to their constituents. “Tell
them that you are handing it out as loans or ask for coins so they
won’t say it’s a donation, so you can give the children something to
eat,” Inton said.
For Ynares, while the Milk
Code has an important purpose, it can also be a “bane during
“It poses a huge challenge
for families and the government to provide essential nutrition
required for child growth and development particularly during
extraordinary times,” the Antipolo City mayor said.
A National Nutrition
Council advisory said that LGUs should consider that some recipients
of pandemic relief goods have young children and pregnant and
lactating mothers. Families are supposed to be monitored by Barangay
Nutrition Scholars and Barangay Health Workers, who will provide
them with low-cost, one dish-meal recipes as well as recipes
utilizing their relief goods.
But Maryjoy said there
were no vegetables and nutritious food in their relief packs. The
lack of proper nutrition may have affected her daughter Hazel’s milk
supply, she said.
“The first relief pack we
received had three kilos of rice, two cans of sardines, and two
Lucky Me noodles,” she said.
There was one instance,
Maryjoy said, when her family received a few kilos of rice and 16
pieces of dried fish (tuyo). To increase Hazel’s milk, Maryjoy
bought malunggay and cooked it with noodle soup.
While the DOH had
specifically instructed that assistance should be provided to
breastfeeding mothers, Maryjoy said no one from her barangay came to
ask how her daughter and granddaughter were doing. “They only gave
me a 150-gram pack of powdered Bear Brand milk, only for her to
drink, but none for the baby,” Maryjoy recalled.
The usual relief pack
distributed by LGUs during the quarantine period contained a few
kilos of rice, canned goods and instant noodles. The nutrition
council however urged LGUs to include dark green and yellow
vegetables; root crops; legumes, beans and seeds; fruits; poultry
and eggs; meat or fish; and pasteurized fresh milk.
Only a few cities and
municipalities were able to distribute fresh produce.
shows the 150-gram pack of powdered milk she received after
lining up at the barangay hall. She believes the lack of
nutritious food affected Hazel's (not her real name) milk
“We are in a crisis
situation, and even the government’s hands are tied because of
supply chain problems. The local government units have to procure
thousands and thousands of produce to give to their constituents who
need it not now, but yesterday. That is the limitation, and we
understand when canned goods are distributed given the situation,”
said DILG’s Malaya.
Malaya pointed out that on
top of the relief packs given to households, a one-time cash
assistance was given in the form of the Social Amelioration Program
“The family can go to the
market and buy what they think is nutritious food for lactating
mothers. The government has already provided funds for them and they
can make that choice if they wish to,” Malaya said.
But for Maryjoy, the SAP
she received had to be divided among three households.
“The P6,500 is to be
divided among three families, with each receiving P2,000, but I get
to have the extra P500 because it was I who lined up for that
money,” Maryjoy said. Most of what she got eventually went to
repaying debt incurred when her husband lost his job.
Breast or bottle? This
question remains contentious. Since the Milk Code was enacted in
1986, the milk industry has taken advantage of every possible
loophole to undermine the law. When the Milk Code took effect in
1987, international milk manufacturing company Wyeth invented the
follow-on formula for babies six months old and beyond.
The Milk Code’s
implementing rules and regulations (IRR) were revised to include a
ban on advertising follow-on formula in 1990. A revised IRR was
drafted in 2006, adding further safeguards 30 years after the Milk
Code was signed, but this was challenged all the way to the Supreme
A report released in May
2020 by WHO, United Nations Children’s Fund and the International
Baby Food Action Network said that despite the pandemic, milk
companies continued to skirt laws in many countries and continuously
promoted their products.
“There is no guarantee
that these donations will occur over the long term,” said Dr.
Nathalie Africa-Verceles, director of the University of the
Philippines Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. “The intention
really is to introduce the product and to generate dependence with
the belief and the hope that women will continue to patronize the
products that they were provided for free initially.”
Studies have shown that
mothers exposed to breastmilk substitutes were highly likely to
abandon breastfeeding, and the indiscriminate distribution and use
of formula milk put infants at greater risk of illness, which might
A study in Indonesia in
the aftermath of the May 2006 earthquake in Yogyakarta and Central
Java found that the distribution and use of breastmilk substitutes
resulted in changes in feeding practices. Uncontrolled distribution
of infant formula exacerbated the risk of diarrhea among infants and
young children during the emergency, the study found.
“(The Milk Code) is very
relevant because let’s look at what the companies do during times of
emergencies, they use it to try to market the product,” said
DOH data confirmed these
observations. The health department noted that a rise in reports of
Milk Code violations from the public began to occur in the week when
the strict lockdowns began, peaking during the week of April 6 to 12
with 90 cases.
Apart from solicitations,
there were product advertisements, such as Marian Rivera-Dantes’
Instagram post. Corporate and private donations also happened
online, mostly through Facebook posts, according to the DOH data.
Zambrano pointed out that
the relevance of the Code had always been questioned during
emergencies. He recalled a situation in Cagayan de Oro after typhoon
Sendong in 2011 when distribution of formula milk became rampant.
Silvestre downplayed the
matter and said only a few mothers were unable to breastfeed their
babies due to medical or physical reasons.
“These few cases are being
hyped up to rationalize the lifting of the prohibition during
emergencies. When in fact, it is during emergencies when we should
intensify the protection of mothers to enable them to breastfeed
their babies,” Silvestre said.
Formula milk manufacturers
have been accused several times of unscrupulous means of advertising
their products, targeting mostly low-income families or those who
can least afford their product.
A 2018 report from Save
the Children Philippines revealed that baby formula brands in the
Philippines are using “aggressive, clandestine and often illegal
methods” to get poor mothers to choose their product over
Hospital staff also gave
brand-specific recommendations to mothers who had just given birth,
clearly a violation of the Milk Code. The report named Nestle,
Abbott, Mead Johnson and Wyeth as the companies who are using these
All four companies denied
the allegations in separate statements sent to the Guardian in 2018.
Cheapest, but not the best
Hazel is helping her
mother with their online selling business, earning a few extra pesos
to help augment their family’s income. She expects breastfeeding to
be temporary and will likely go back to feeding Pia formula milk.
Maryjoy said they had
begun feeding Nestogen One to Pia, the cheapest in the market at P78
per box. It wasn’t prescribed by the doctor.
“But Pia doesn’t want it,
she won’t swallow it,” Maryjoy said.
As Hazel handles
deliveries and client meet-ups for their online selling business,
Maryjoy has no choice but to give Pia formula milk.
“I need to go back to
school,” Hazel said.
Asked where they will get
the money to buy formula milk, Hazel shrugged. -- PCIJ,
Editor’s Note: The real names of Hazel and her baby, Pia, were not
used because they are minors.
piece of GI sheet is seen on top of an electrical post in
Barangay Sagkahan, Tacloban City after Typhoon Yolanda made
landfall and claimed more than 6,000 lives.
Heavy cost of coronavirus
response drains local governments’ disaster budgets
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
September 3, 2020
MANILA – The coastal towns of
Dolores and Sulat in Eastern Samar constantly battle with the impact
of extreme weather events such as storm surges, flash floods and
Early this year, the leaders of the two towns were set to conduct
training for emergency response teams, buy rescue equipment and
early warning devices from their calamity funds, but the Covid-19
pandemic got in the way and wiped out their calamity funds to
prevent the entry of the virus.
“The province was not ready to have a Covid-19 case,” said Manuel
Catuday, head of Municipal Disaster Risk Resilience Management
Office (MDRRMO) of Dolores. “We don’t have a government hospital,
only a rural health center with one doctor.”
A community hospital in Dolores has been dilapidated since last
year, and has not been repaired, he said. The next government
hospital is in Tacloban City, which is at least a four-hour drive.
Covid-19 came at a time when the localities have not even completely
recovered from the onslaught of Typhoons Yolanda and Ruby, which
struck a year apart.
While the government was still on post-Yolanda operations, Ruby came
in November 2014 and caused severe damage to homes, crops and
farmlands that were still being rehabilitated. There was not enough
public attention in the aftermath of Ruby as Yolanda was still fresh
in the minds of government officials as well as the general public.
“Lahat ng hanapbuhay namin nawala (All our sources of livelihood
were destroyed),” said Rio Caspe, 42, a fisherman from Barangay San
Francisco in Sulat whose house was destroyed by Typhoon Ruby.
His three children and wife had to rely on the meager earnings of
their small sari-sari store as massive flooding made fishing
Caspe said his neighbors were also cash-strapped because their crops
such as banana, rice and copra were destroyed by the typhoon.
“We only relied on relief goods while staying in an evacuation
center,” said Caspe.
Dolores, a third-class municipality, earmarked P8 million in
calamity funding for 2020 to prepare and protect its 42,000 people
or 12,700 families from the impact of natural calamities.
However, the funds had to be realigned to buy personal protective
equipment (PPE) for community volunteers as well as hygiene kits and
food packs for residents during the lockdown, which was imposed to
prevent the spread of Covid-19. The national government’s Bayanihan
fund gave Dolores a P14-million subsidy to respond to the Covid-19
“We are now sourcing from this (Bayanihan) fund for our response to
Covid-19 pandemic,” said Catuday.
The town also has to spend for at least 900 LSIs or locally stranded
individuals who arrived in Dolores from March to June.
Dolores, Sulat, and seven other towns in Samar were placed under
state of calamity in May when Typhoon Ambo, the first typhoon to
visit the country this year, pummeled the province. As usual, the
storm destroyed crops and damaged houses, displacing more than
Most houses in these towns are made of light materials.
“Matagal bago kami makabangon, hirap kasi ang pagpapagawa (It takes
a long time to recover because we don’t have enough money to repair
our houses),” said Catuday.
Charlie Rosaroso, head of the Sulat MDRRMO, said at least P1.5
million or 30 percent of the P5.1 million calamity fund for 2020 was
spent to provide emergency assistance to families affected by
Typhoon Ambo. The remaining funds were depleted by the Covid-19
He said he was only able to spare P300,000 to continue the training
for volunteers on emergency response.
Provinces and cities get 5 percent of the Internal Revenue Allotment
(IRA), the local governments’ share of national tax collections, for
disaster risk resilience (DRR) under Republic Act 10121 or the
Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.
Of the total calamity fund, 70 percent is allocated to prevention,
mitigation and preparedness, and 30 percent is set aside as a Quick
Response Fund (QRF).
“What is left of our calamity fund is now being used for our
Covid-19 response,” said Rosaroso. These include relief goods, PPE
for volunteers, hygiene kits, food packs for residents, as well as
LSIs and ROFs (returning overseas Filipinos) undergoing quarantine.
Sulat has hosted close to 200 LSIs since March.
A fourth-class municipality with a population of close to 16,000,
Sulat does not have a hospital, but there is one doctor in each of
the rural health centers in 18 barangays, said Rosaroso.
As of Aug. 10, there were eight confirmed cases of Covid-19
infection in Eastern Samar and most of them came from Metro Manila.
Both Catuday and Rosaroso said there were no confirmed cases in
their towns, as they work even on Sundays to ensure health and
hygiene protocols are properly implemented.
Mario Candelaria, chairman of Barangay San Francisco in Sulat, said:
“An infection here is a nightmare because we don’t have a hospital.”
“Noon 'pag galing Maynila sinasalubong ng mga taga dito, ngayon
nilalayuan na (Before, those who arrived from Manila got a welcome,
now people avoid them,” said Candelaria.
He said the P110,000 calamity fund of San Francisco has also been
used for food packs, hygiene kits, and for disinfecting public
Exposed and vulnerable
The Philippines ranked second in terms of exposure and vulnerability
to climate-related risks in the Global Climate Change Risk Report
for 2020 of Germanwatch, the environment think tank. Japan topped
Red Constantino, executive director of the Institute for Climate and
Sustainable Cities (ICSC), said the report showed that "Those who
are least responsible for the problem, are the ones who are
suffering the most. This is unacceptable."
“The pandemic has largely revealed systemic weaknesses that would
have just taken more time to uncover otherwise,” said Constantino.
The German report noted that strong tropical cyclones such as Bopha
(“Pablo”) 2012, Haiyan (“Yolanda”) 2013 and Mangkhut (“Ompong”) 2018
have been recorded in the last 10 years, affecting mostly the poor
and vulnerable population.
At least 74 percent of the country’s population is susceptible to
multiple hazards, including coastal hazards such as typhoons, storm
surges and rising sea levels, according to the 2018 World Risk
Report. The report ranked the Philippines third among countries most
vulnerable to disaster risks.
The catastrophic impact of Tropical Depression Ondoy in 2009 cost
Marikina and Pasig cities P22.54 billion, of which Pasig accounted
for 90 percent.
Rich city gets more money
This time around, Pasig City had to let go of critical spending for
disaster risk resilience programs due to the pandemic response, said
Bryant Wong, the city disaster risk reduction and management
officer. These included reducing the number of fire engines and
rescue vehicles to be purchased.
“We did not expect Covid-19 pandemic to affect us all, but we need
to respond to it the best way we can,” Wong said.
Unlike Sulat and Dolores, however, Pasig City Hall has deeper
pockets and generous donors.
Of the P600-million calamity fund for 2020, the city government has
spent half for the Covid-19 pandemic response, Wong said.
It also managed to utilize an additional P200 million from the P300
million DRR savings in the last five years.
Other funding sources for Pasig City’s Covid-19 response included a
P1.2-billion supplemental fund for the Social Amelioration Program
(SAP) and another P1.2 billion for tablets to be used by students
for online classes, from the Special Education Fund.
The city also received P136 million from the Bayanihan fund,
equivalent to one month of its IRA.
Wong said private donations of beds, PPEs, hygiene kits and rapid
testing kits worth P50 million boosted the city’s pandemic response.
The private sector also donated 100,000 food packs to Pasig.
In the case of Sulat and Dolores towns, there are no big corporate
donors, which meant that the money for food packs distributed to
locked-down residents came from their calamity funds.
Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad of the Office of Civil Defense, also
the executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and
Management Council Council (NDRRMC), told local government units (LGUs)
in a webinar in July to learn “to adjust, transform and adapt
strategies to manage response to Covid-19 pandemic and prepare for
multiple hazards from natural calamities.”
During the webinar, John Aries Macaspac, a director of the
Department of Budget and Management (DBM), enumerated funding
sources for the Covid-19 response, including the Special DRRM Trust
Fund or the savings from DRR funds in the last five years, a month’s
worth of IRA from the national government and realigned funds from
the General Fund. LGUs may also use 20 percent of their development
funds for the purchase of PPEs, rapid test kits, vitamins,
medicines, accommodation and expenses of health workers,
construction of rental quarantine facilities, mobile testing labs,
tents, shelters for the homeless, and training for pandemic
response, under guidelines issued by the DBM and the Department of
the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The “Bayanihan to Heal as One” or Republic Act 11469 allocated P37
billion for the emergency Covid-19 response of LGUs. It allocated
P12.4 billion to all cities; P18.39 billion to municipalities and
P6.2 billion to provinces.
Constantino said responses to the Covid-19 pandemic and climate
emergency should go hand in hand, as both require the expertise of
scientists and policies and actions based on evidence.
Scientists, he noted, advised physical distancing to prevent the
transmission Covid-19 while waiting for a vaccine to be developed.
Scientists have also stressed the urgency of limiting the rise of
global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the worst
impacts of the climate crisis.
“We do not have the luxury to choose whether we need protection from
the deadly fevers induced by the novel coronavirus or from an
increasingly feverish planet. Just as climate change is not an
environmental problem but a development crisis, so is Covid-19 not
merely a human health crisis but an ecological problem,” said
About the Author:
Estrella Torres is a journalist who has worked for major English
dailies in the Philippines for 20 years. She is now the Head of
Media and Communications of Save the Children Philippines. Save the
Children implements a program on improving the quality of disaster
response and preparedness in the typhoon-stricken municipalities of Sulat and Dolores in Eastern Samar.
increase amidst the crisis
July 15, 2020
MAKATI CITY – 2020,
is it the best year yet? Well, not for the younger generation. The
recent restrictions on travel and other leisure activities affected
the tourism industry everywhere. Far from happiness, most of Region
8’s micro entrepreneurs who fall under the sector of tourism support
were greatly affected. These are businesses who support the local
tourism by offering a handful of sweet native delicacies.
Leah Hiangnan, a young
traveler and entrepreneur/owner of Todoc’s Special Native
Delicacies, is already experiencing success from her thriving
business selling chocolate moron (chocolate sticky rice pudding). It
is a well-known native delicacy usually introduced and loved by
visiting tourists, and pasalubong from every kababayan in Eastern
Visayas. Her brand- Todoc’s, is known to originate from Abuyog,
Leyte, the true home of this delicacy.
Prior to the threat of the
COVID-19 pandemic, her product was top-selling, she also has
shipments to Manila, Cebu and Bohol.
For Leah, success is on
her side, until recently she experienced unfortunate events in her
life. Her father died this year, then comes the pandemic. Sadly, her
orders for the Holy Week and Summer were cancelled due to low demand
in tourism-support products and logistical concerns.
Everything seems to stop
in her life. “Nahulop ko Maám, asa ko pamilngon an akon ibayad
monthly sa akon loans para sa business operation,” says Leah who
emotionally shared her struggle on how she can pay her loans used to
expand her business when their operations stopped. She also shared
how her family is financially affected by the hiatus, especially
that she gave birth to her first born. Good thing the financial
institutions imposed moratorium for loan payments.
She was also concerned of
the employees who depend their livelihood on hers. Twenty (20) of
her employees instantaneously lost their jobs, and she could not
support them either.
For some time, she paused
and started to think of ways how she can advance forward. She was
determined to move on and learn to navigate the unknown paths of the
“new normal”. With internet and a social media account, she started
posting photos of her product online. It was a positive step, a few
Exactly May 1, 2020, she
called out 7-10 employees and started the production of chocolate
moron. They started to work twice a week. Though far from her daily
production and 20 employees working for her, it was a good start.
Soon enough, she will gain back her monthly income of
Leah noticed that most
orders are coming outside of the region. She searched further and
found out that there is a high demand for native delicacies in
Now how would she deliver
her products? Again, through online searching, Leah found a way.
“Pasabay” services are the trend for micro entrepreneurs. Small
logistics player in the region offer door to door delivery of
products from small businesses to their linked businesses in Manila.
“Naghahanap ako Maám ng
paraan para maka-kuha ng orders, mag-produce kami at maka-deliver,”
says Leah who was determined to seize every opportunity of getting
bulk orders outside the region and delivering them.
Talking about disaster
resilience, she is coping with the crisis by establishing a broader
network and strengthening business ties with her partners while
finding ways “paraan/diskarte” to make sure her business goes
Usually she sends her
products in Cebu, Bohol and Manila, now, a door opened for Dumaguete
with an initial order of 60 packs of chocolate moron.
Despite the spiking prices
of raw materials for the production and the limited supply of sugar
and milk, Leah will be producing 12,000 pcs of chocolate moron this
week and expects more to come in succeeding weeks.
Leah will also process the
delicacy in the water retort facility at the Food Innovation Center
by DTI and DOST to extend the shelf life of her product. She
considered the possible delays in logistics, and so, she wanted to
ensure the consistency of her product’s quality.
“I will always find ways
to make sure that our business will always run by building new
business linkages and stepping in for every opportunity I find,”
says Leah Hiangnan with full determination to keep her business at
the middle of a crisis.