The POPDEV Orientation hopes to enlighten planning officers and other representatives of the local governments and agencies on the importance and impact of integrating population dynamics on plans they have designed for their respective city and province.
On March 13, 2018, POPCOM-CAR spearheaded an orientation on Population and Development Integration for 22 participants in Baguio City. Another orientation followed on March 22, 2018 for 30 participants from all the municipalities of Kalinga Province and Tabuk City.
The reintroduction of the activity necessitated the discussion of basic concepts to allow the participants to refresh their knowledge and to find appreciation for the numerous indicators involved in the planning and decision-making process.
Concerted Efforts of POPCOM-CAR and Partner Agencies
Ms. Anabelle L. Camacho and Mr. Kliene P. Chunanon, Local Government Operations Officer V of Baguio City and Kalinga Province respectively, discussed the local planning structure and processes. They discussed the essentials (who, why, what, when, and how) of planning. Ms. Camacho emphasized Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1, series of 2007, which states that the national government agencies like POPCOM can provide technical inputs and guidance for the purpose of dovetailing national thrusts in local plans. Mr. Chunanon revealed the current realities of planning in the province and presented some tools in planning.
The situational analyses were presented by Ms. George Ngolab of the Baguio City Planning Development Office, and Engr. Cynthia V. Imperial of the Kalinga Provincial Planning Development Office. The Baguio City Socio-Economic Profile for 2017 was presented by Ms. Nellie Dela Cerna. Ms. Araceli Abaya discussed the local development indicators for profiling and the tools to determine vision-reality gap, and priority performance and service areas when planning for an area.
Ms. Cecile A. Basawil, PO IV and ARD Designate of POPCOM-CAR, presented in Baguio City POPCOM’s legal mandate, the three program components, and the activities under the three program components undertaken to attain the Sustainable Development Goals. Ms. Annie D. Calimquim, Technical Section Chief and POPDEV Coordinator of POPCOM-CAR, presented the same topics in Tabuk City.
Ms. Annie D. Calimquim, discussed in detail the basic concepts of Population and Development Integration and demographic dividend. Demographic transitions, population outcomes, interconnections of population and development, and integration of population strategies in existing development frameworks became the center for discussion during the orientation.
Challenges and Responses
The orientation requires careful deliberation from the participants due to the intricacy of some of the concepts involved. However, the participants expressed appreciation on the increased knowledge on POPDEV Integration gained, and expressed openness to further trainings and technical assistance to utilize the RAPID Spectrum Software as an aid in local development planning. Despite having encountered some difficult concepts, the importance of integration of population and development in planning was reaffirmed by the participants. It was also found out that POPDEV Integration is being done to some extent in LGUs.
As part of the agreement in Baguio City, the City Planning Office will provide a copy of their approved City Development Plan and Comprehensive Land Use Plan in hard and soft copies. After election, the trained participants will assist the barangays in Baguio during their local barangay planning to integrate population development dynamics in their future barangay plans. Kalinga Province and Tabuk City, on the other hand vowed to assist Municipal LGUs in their local planning process to integrate the planning approach learned.
Key players from the Upper Rock Quarry Barangay, the City Population Office, and the Commission on Population – Cordillera Administrative Region (POPCOM-CAR) assembled and proposed solutions to problems inherent in their barangay. The training further served as a platform to reveal other challenges affecting various agencies’ ability to contribute to their community’s development. The establishment of the Local Migration Information System (LMIS) was seen as one of the timely responses to the barangay’s current concerns.
LMIS: A Response to Scarce Information on Local Migration
Upper Rock Quarry Barangay signified interest to pilot test the LMIS in Baguio City. Since 2015, local officials have been using their own database developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to aid in monitoring their local population and in planning activities.
Barangay Secretary Eric V. Tandoc presented the particulars of their system. Despite the detailed design of the form, information related to family planning are not available on the said records alone. This urged the barangay to look for a tool that can be inexpensively maintained and to make their current database all-inclusive.
After assessment of Ms. Rolagenia G. Reyes from the POPCOM Central Office, the existing database of Upper Rock Quarry was enhanced by the Rider Questionnaire Tool. The added questions were crucial to determine how many and what services are needed in the barangay. These would enable all agencies involved to deliver more responsive health care services in their area.
Upper Rock Quarry barangay officials, City Population officers, and POPCOM-CAR representatives discuss threats to urbanization and remedies to improve their local population monitoring and planning.
Capacity Building: Data Collection
To ensure that the enhanced LMIS Data Capture Form is used accurately, Ms. Sarah B. Jalilul from the POPCOM Central Office taught the participants what to do before, during, and after the interview process. Queries on how to ask difficult questions, what etiquette to observe during interviews, how to assess the answers, and what techniques to use in preserving the quality and privacy of the data were also resolved.
A simulation of the interview process allowed the participants-evaluators to apply lessons learned during the training.
Actions Undertaken by the Barangay
The enthusiasm of the barangay officials became apparent when they scheduled a series of activities that would start the implementation of the LMIS tool. POPCOM Central Office gave a copy of the final tool on January 26, 2018. After two days, POPCOM-CAR delivered 500 copies of the LMIS Questionnaire.
The barangay survey began on February 5, 2018. It is expected to be completed by the end of the month. The modifications on their current database will be finalized in April this year.
The 1st Quarter Regional Implementing Team (RIT) Meeting held on January 31 – February 1, 2018 allowed the representatives from several regional line agencies, local government units (LGUs), and civil society organizations to review the gaps in the previous RIT plan implementation.
The RIT drew attention to the need to strengthen advocacy regarding Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) and refine the entries in the online Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning (RPFP) Monitoring System to clarify relevant indicators in the said records.
The lack of birthing centers, sanitary toilets, and other mother-baby friendly facilities in certain areas remain a barrier in carrying out quality maternal and infant care. The low contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) in Baguio and Benguet and the increasing teenage pregnancies emerge as top concerns for the RIT.
The RIT members forge detailed RIT plan for 2018 as they grace the meeting in Baguio City.
To strengthen the RPRH advocacy, the RIT secretariat was tasked to draft a resolution on the inclusion of family planning activities during human resource development programs of concerned agencies or offices. The RPFP topic would also be introduced in the syllabus of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) new recruits. The secretariat was also tasked to contact the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to inquire about the possibility of including the submission of the RPRH Law Accomplishment Report as an indicator in the Seal of Good Governance. In addition, the group agreed to scale-up demand generation activities in the Province of Abra, being the priority area for zero unmet need in relation to family planning.
Accreditation of hospitals that feature mother-baby friendly health facilities and LGUs with maternal care package was deemed a priority. Hence, the quality of maternal and newborn care would be expected to improve upon compliance to the Department of Health (DOH) Memorandum on hospital accreditation. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC)’s assistance in accrediting the said facilities was sought.
The RIT gained the support of Luzon Health, Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP), National Youth Commission (NYC) and other partners to conduct a study on primary health care intervention to lower maternal and neonatal deaths. The RIT would also explore the possibility of including sanitary toilets as one of the conditionalities for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
To combat the low CPR rate, the RIT agreed that family planning programs be extended to jails and workplaces in coordination with concerned agencies such as the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
All the LGU and agency plans submitted and presented were approved by the body. The next RIT meeting was set in Abra. The Department of Health would make the necessary arrangements with the required agencies in Abra prior to the meeting.
On May 26, 2017, POPCOM-CAR formally signed a memorandum of understanding with Building Inter Tribal Eco development Inc. (BITE Inc.) to fulfill the targets of Zero Unmet Need for modern Family Planning in the region. This is in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order no. 12 which fully supports the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act.
BITE Inc. is a medical service organization who has been active and successful in delivering services to couples with unmet need in Region 2. The agreement allows BITE Inc. to deliver FP resources to provinces of the Cordilleras and directly target couples who have been identified through POPCOM’s online database. Through the agreement, POPCOM-CAR and BITE Inc. will reach around 1,500 couples by giving them the FP service they need for spacing or limiting childbirth from now until October 2017. They can also conduct Family Development Sessions on RPFP in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development-CAR.
The organization’s supply of long lasting family planning methods comes from their partnership with the UN Population Fund. Partnerships with civil society organizations, like BITE Inc., allows POPCOM to still reach these women and couples who are clamoring for long lasting and more effective Family Planning methods even with legal setbacks in the Supreme Court.
There are 5,270 couples and women of reproductive age (WRA) in POPCOM’s RPFP Online System who have unmet need for modern family planning. This is based on the couple and WRA profiles collected in the conduct of Responsible Parenthood classes, Pre-Marriage Counselling and Family Development Sessions across the region. The Commission identifies unmet need for modern family planning as those couples and WRA who have signified intention to use or shift to modern methods from traditional means.
Part of the overall strategy to reach these couples and WRA is through the conduct of outreach activities. POPCOM together with the DOH intends to reach around 60% of the total projected unmet need in the region in medical missions and other activities. Engagement of CSO partners like BITE Inc. is part of the implementation strategy to accomplish this.
The current Temporary Restraining order by the Supreme Court stops any public facility to provide FP implant services, specifically Implanon and Implanon NXT. It also prohibits the Food and Drug Administration from “granting any and all pending applications for registration and/or recertification of reproductive products and supplies including contraceptive drugs and devices”. This puts more than 400,000 women of reproductive age in the Cordilleras who will need family planning services in the next few years because the supply will not be available in public facilities in the near future.
But the ban only limits agents of the Department of Health which includes Rural Health Units, DOH retained hospitals, public hospitals and attached agencies. This means that private entities like civil society organizations and clinics are not covered by the order. Organizations like BITE Inc. may still administer implants to needing women as long as their supply does not come from a public agency.
POPCOM has been very vigilant in gaining the support of the Filipinos and in seeking the lifting of the TRO from the Supreme Court. As of May 2017, POPCOM has already amassed 300,000 signatures supporting the action and is still continuing to garner support.