March 7, 2019
Since 2017, the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) and its partners in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have organized three national and regional dialogues that provide a platform for duty-bearers and stakeholders to discuss issues and propose collective recommendations to contribute to the fulfilment of Filipinos’ sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
Now in its fourth installment, this dialogue brings together participants from five different provinces in the Bangsamoro region to explore the interrelatedness of fulfilling women’s health and rights, women empowerment and closing gender gaps, and the achievement of peace, security, and development.
The Reproductive Health Law is a landmark legislation that aims to protect the health and lives of mothers and their children through the provision of services and information on reproductive health, among others. However, hampered by challenges like legal barriers, lack of adequate funding and willingness of some LGUs to implement the law, and lack of public knowledge and awareness, the full implementation of the law has not yet been realized, more than six years after its enactment.
On the other hand, despite being one of the best performing countries in terms of gender equality due to the presence of various measures promoting it, violence against women and girls (VAWG) is still rampant and widely normalized in the Philippines until today. Child marriage, for instance, is one example of this problem present in the country that compromises the safety and development of its women and girls.
Given these formidable challenges, PLCPD optimistically views the recent ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law as a milestone event and an opportunity to advance its advocacies specifically on gender equality and women’s health and rights in the newly-formed transitional government. It is an opportune moment for the advocates to accelerate the implementation of existing policies and to explore possible programs and policies that would potentially address the issues concerning SRHR and gender inequality. In line with that, PLCPD calls for the transitional government to uphold rights of the women and to provide equal opportunity for them as the persistence of gender gaps may detrimentally affect the efforts to achieve peace, security and development.
The dialogue also coincides with the celebration of International Women’s Day. PLCPD, through this dialogue, hopes to explore the crucial link between women empowerment and the achievement of lasting peace in the region. Many studies have shown that participation of women in conflict resolution increases the probability of a lasting peace agreement. International instruments have also recognized and reaffirmed the important role of women in these peace processes.
This dialogue aims to produce a call to action for complementing national-level advocacy and for advancing relevant legislation at the regional level and an action plan for mainstreaming women and girls’ rights and reproductive health in the BARMM which advocates can use as guides in collectively pushing for the advancement of their goals.
It is hoped that stakeholders will be given a platform to present the agenda to the BARMM and that the output can effectively be transmitted to the region’s newly-appointed leaders and be converted to concrete policies and programs. Working together, advocates and leaders can come up with measures to achieve full realization of SRHR of all and to eliminate of all forms of violence against women and girls, and consequently, to achieve lasting peace and development in the region.
28 February 2019—Nine out of 10 adult Filipinos agree that smoking or the use of cigarettes in public places should be prohibited.
This is according to the results of a national survey on smoking conducted by Pulse Asia from January 26 to 31.
Presented during the launch of “iChange: Vote for a smoke-free Philippines,” an electoral campaign led by the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), the results of the nationwide survey also reveal that nine out of 10 Filipinos agree that the minimum age of those allowed to buy and use cigarettes should be raised from 18 to 25 years old.
“The results of this survey show that the Filipino public is very open and receptive to essential legislative reforms that can be done as regards tobacco control. May this piece of information have a deep impact on candidates for the 2019 midterm polls, for them to resolutely pursue measures that will contribute to a smoke-free Philippines,” said PLCPD Executive Director Romeo Dongeto.
1 in 4 Pinoys are smokers
The Pulse Asia survey also reveals that while almost 8 out of 10 Filipinos (76%) aged 18 years and above say they do not use tobacco, with 62% saying that they never used tobacco in their life, almost one in four Filipinos aged 18 years and above (24%) use tobacco, with 19% saying they are daily tobacco smokers.
“These figures show how deep the smoking problem is rooted in Philippine society. Despite recent strides our nation has taken to control tobacco use, we still have a long way to go. That is why we are launching the iChange campaign, a drive we are pursuing in time for the election season, with the specific goal of making this issue be at the forefront of electoral debates and garner support from incoming elected officials towards crafting and enacting stricter laws on tobacco control,” Dongeto explained.
Present during the launch of the iChange campaign were Dr. Charl Andrew Bautista of the Department of Health, who discussed the burden of tobacco use on Filipino health, and several other advocates from HealthJustice, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, Social Watch Philippines, and Youth for Sin Tax. The groups highlighted the policy reforms needed by the country and why it is important to talk about tobacco control during the election period.
“The election period is what we call the noon for public clamor, as we all know that candidates running for public office are most receptive to public opinion during this period. That’s why advocates need to sound the alarms on tobacco use even louder at this moment in time. We also hope that voters will consider important issues such as health in making the important decision of choosing whom to vote,” Dongeto stressed.
The iChange campaign called on 2019 election candidates to support moves to amend the current Tobacco Regulation Act (Republic Act 9211), to expand the definition of places where smoking is banned, raise the minimum age for buying and using cigarettes from 18 to 25 years old, and increase the tax imposed on tobacco products by at least P60 to make cigarette prices prohibitive and to generate revenue to support the government’s universal healthcare program.
“Evidence of overwhelming public support for these amendments is here. Nine out of 10 Filipinos agree to stricter tobacco control laws. May this pressing public health issue deeply penetrate into the national conversation and compel our next legislators and government officials to act,” Dongeto concluded.
After the launch on February 28, the iChange: Vote for a smoke-free Philippines campaign will hold a series of media events and voters’ education forums in Laguna, Albay, Cebu City, and Iloilo City.
Date of posting: 13 February 2019
The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD) is looking for an individual who is interested to work full time as advocacy and partnerships officer. The advocacy and partnerships officer will be assigned to handle advocacy for multiple issues related to human development, particularly on promoting a smoke-free environment and health, rural development, children’s rights, and gender equality. Experience in and passion for advocacy work is required.
- Implements advocacy activities and ensures completion of project deliverables
- Develops and implements a legislative advocacy plan for the assigned issues
- Develops and builds issue champions among PLCPD and non-PLCPD members
- Renders efficient technical support and mobilize legislators in advocacy activities
- Builds and sustains partnerships with civil society stakeholders, legislative committees, executive agencies and international development agencies
- Monitors the movement and support for the assigned bills
- Participates in technical working groups and conducts quick political mapping on priority measures
- Develops advocacy messages and writes press releases, position papers, and policy memos for legislators
- Participates in defining research objectives and contributes in project development and institutional sustainability including writing of project proposals and participation to fundraising activities
- Generates activity and project reports.
Skills and Competencies:
- At least two (2) years experience in policy advocacy work
- Strong interpersonal and networking skills
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
Date of posting: 13 February 2019
Deadline of application: 23 February 2019
The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD), a non-government advocacy organization composed of national legislators, is looking for a highly committed individual to fill the position of Media and Communications Officer.
The primary tasks of the Media and Communications Officer are the following:
- development and implementation of information and media campaign plan for legislative advocacies of the institution,
- coordination and networking with media organizations and individuals,
- development of media releases and statements for the organization’s priority issues and advocacy campaigns,
- person-to-person advocacy and provision of technical assistance to PLCPD members and policy champions on matters related to media advocacy,
- assistance in or management of high-impact and creative advocacy activities of the organization, and
- management/implementation of short-term and strategic communication projects and activities of the institution.
- graduate of Development Communication, Communication Arts, Journalism, or any Social Science course
- has excellent interpersonal skills
- familiar with writing basic media releases (advisory, press briefer, press release)
- proficient in oral and written communications in both English and Filipino
- preferably known in the media circuit or has links with media
- at least two years of experience related to media work
- computer literate
Interested parties may send their letter of application and curriculum vitae until 23 February 2019 (Friday) to: Mr. Romeo C. Dongeto, Executive Director
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (copy: email@example.com)
Here is the detailed job description and competency requirements for the position.
Shortlisted applicants will be notified by 26 February 2019.
January 23, 2019
On January 23, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly and hastily approved a bill that lowers that minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) from 15 to 12 years old, amending the current Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 (JJWA). Senate is expected to also approve of its version soon. The bill is yet another attempt of Congress, under the leadership of Gloria Arroyo and Tito Sotto, and the Duterte Administration to revert all the positive gains under the JJWA and to trample on the rights of the children, the very sector it vows to protect.
Proponents of the bill claim that the proposed law aims to address the problem of children being used by criminal and drug syndicates to carry out criminal activities. Under this bill, children from ages 12 to 18 who commit serious crimes like murder, homicide, rape and violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 will be sent to reformative institutions called “Bahay Pag-asa.”
International and local groups and organizations advocating for the rights of the children have already expressed their disappointment and fierce opposition to the proposed law, calling it an act of violence against children. Advocates have also expressed their concern on the severe conditions of youth care facilities around the country and their doubt that these could adequately and effectively cater to the needs of the children in conflict with the law (CICL).
The Child Rights Network (CRN) firmly believes that lowering the MACR goes against the best interest of Filipino children. It is not the solution to both the problems of children being involved in and children being used for criminal activities. This proposed measure is anti-poor, anti-human rights, and anti-children. Apart from being plainly absurd, this measure is also unfounded, misguided, and uncalled for. Data from the Philippine National Police show that only 1.72% of reported crimes are committed by children. Furthermore, subjecting these children to the country’s flawed justice system and to the arduous judicial process is utterly inhumane and would traumatize them for the rest of their lives. These children are already victims of the harsh environment and society that they live in. Approving this proposed law will just further victimize them as they would be dehumanized and stigmatized, impeding their rights to survival and development opportunities.
A great deal of studies have shown that criminalizing children leads to recidivism. Detention and/or incarceration of children have also been linked to adverse effects on a child’s mental, physical and emotional development, as they are likely to be subjected to discrimination and abuse while detained. Furthermore, jailing children deny them of opportunities for advancement through education, and future employment. The proposals to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility also ignore scientific evidence that a child’s brain is still structurally and functionally immature and that the brain reaches full maturity at the age of 25.
The Child Rights Network, together with other child’s rights advocacy groups, vehemently opposes the bill and reiterates its call to retain the current MACR. Rather than lowering it, the government should instead focus on strengthening the implementation of the JJWA and on improving the facilities for children in conflict with the law. CRN further believes that rehabilitation is still the more effective and sound solution to the increasing number of child offenders. Evidence shows that these measures are effective in restoring and reintegrating children to the community, as documented by child rights advocates.
CRN also calls on all legislators to address the root causes of the problem instead of targeting the children.
Finally, CRN enjoins everyone to remain vigilant with all the development in the proposed law and to strongly resist all attacks against the rights of the children.
Children are not criminals. The real criminals are those who use and exploit the children to engage in criminal activities. The real criminals are those in the government who blatantly disregard and step on the rights of children in exchange of political gains. These are the real criminals that should be punished and be put in jail.