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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ifugao drafts guidelines for reproductive health code

By Desiree Caluza
Northern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 19:35:00 07/30/2008

BANAUE, Ifugao, Philippines—The home of the famed rice terraces has become the second province to carry out a reproductive health code that would give people a wider choice on family planning methods.

At a meeting of Cordillera's regional peace and order council here last week, Ifugao Governor Teodoro Baguilat said the province was finalizing the rules and regulations to adopt the code.

Aurora is the first province to have a local reproductive health code.

Joyce Niwane, provincial social welfare officer, said Ifugao would promote artificial and natural family planning methods to support the code.

"We believe that the people's choice here is artificial family planning method so that is what we give them," she said.

With close to 181,500 residents, Ifugao ranks among the Cordillera provinces with the highest population records.

Apart from easing population here, Niwane said they want to lessen the cases of violence against women and children by enforcing the code.

"The implementing guidelines will cover concerns on economic and human rights, violence against women and children, development issues, labor issues, prostitution and even entertainment," she said.

She expressed alarm over the rising cases of adoption in the province. "Adoption is not bad, but why are we giving away our children?" she asked.

During the meeting, the council, made up of officials from government agencies in Cordillera, approved a resolution supporting a conference on women and children that will be held in Baguio City in November.

Aurora Quiray, regional director of the Commission on Population, said the conference aims to improve peace and order in the Cordillera by curbing crimes committed against women and children.

"Peace and order continue to be a main concern not only of the police but of the Cordillera as a whole. In most instances of conflicts, women and children are the ones greatly affected," she said.
Describing women and children as "most vulnerable," Quiray said several laws have been enacted to protect them.

But, she said, there is still a low level of awareness of the rights and responsibilities of women and children and the laws to protect them.

Baguilat said the conference is expected to identify ways to deal with issues involving violence against women, including rape.

"The reason we have low statistics on rape is that these cases are settled through ‘areglo’ (out-of-court settlement) as dictated by some cultural practices," he said.

Niwane said Ifugao has one of the highest number of cases of abuse against women and children because residents are coming out openly.