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POPCOM, DSWD, govt agencies: Families must be shielded vs economic woes, violence stemming from pandemic

28th National Family Week: September 21 to 27

The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM), together with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other government partners, are calling on all sectors of society to do their utmost in securing Filipino families against economic difficulties and violence stemming from the spread of the pandemic, as the country observes the 28th National Family Week (NFW) from Sept. 21 to 27.

Sharing the common mandate of the development for the basic unit and structure of Philippine society, POPCOM and DSWD underscore the strengthening of Filipino families against outside forces which result to the loss of income, employment and livelihood as well as internal ones that unsuspectingly creep from within, such as violence among their own members, especially against women and children. POPCOM has been actively participating in the DSWD-led celebration to address the manifold concerns facing Filipino families in the midst of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spread.

 “All families, regardless of their socioeconomic standing, are experiencing unprecedented changes in their ways of life because of the challenges posed by COVID-19,” Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, MD, MPH  said. “We need to preserve the institution of the Filipino family from elements that put pressure on its stability, especially those posed by the deadly disease.”

Perez said that, while threats from families’ economic activities, and even the individual security and safety may emanate from external forces such as those borne from the virus as well as online in nature, there are also those which may also come from within, especially among members themselves.

Stronger together: The POPCOM chief expressed that “while the situation imposed by COVID-19 is unique in itself, forcing family members to stay at home, it should be a welcome opportunity for them to forge stronger bonds, and also break barriers to discuss matters and topics which before presented discomfort and unease, such as sexuality, responsible parenthood, family planning, and the like.”

Perez also reminded couples that the practice of family planning would greatly help in preserving and improving a family’s finances, as an additional child will set back a household to about two-thirds of its savings. He also exhorted members to “remain vigilant on violent incidences, especially on women and children, that can lead to sexual abuse and worse, add on to the statistics of teenage pregnancies.”

He also averred that it is within the family that issues, both small and pressing, get to be discussed, have a high probability of being addressed, and could be averted at the onset. A major one is the teen pregnancy trend, now tagged as a “national and social emergency.” Perez opined: “It is within families that social concerns emerge, and where solutions also begin.”

“As a doctor, I also urge for the care of senior citizens who are living by themselves, or who may be predisposed to COVID-19 because of comorbidities or preexisting health conditions,” the head of POPCOM emphasized.

Online observance: The undersecretary also revealed that POPCOM will extensively trumpet its campaign for protected families, or “Ang Pamilyang Protektado, Panalo” through its September 26 “Usap Tayo sa FP with Doc Jeepy” episode streamed via @OfficialPOPCOM and @UsapTayoSaFP Facebook pages, There, Perez will discuss POPCOM’s various projects, especially its active helpline, which continuously accepts inquiries and requests for family planning services.

DSWD and POPCOM will commence this year’s NFW with a symbolic ringing of bells by the heads of partner agencies on Sept. 21 at 9 a.m. through online audio-visual presentations. They have enjoined the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and other religious denominations to do the same as their way of participation.

Several government institutions will also harness the reach of their social media pages by posting and sharing daily infographics on ways families can cope with COVID-19, encouraging them to maximize their free time to strengthen bonds indoors as the pandemic takes place. The materials will also rally them to follow basic health protocols to help fight the spread of the contagion even among members. They will also solicit comments and responses on how families manage their situations while on quarantine.

POPCOM’s executive director also encourages partner government agencies and civil society organizations to create their own social media cards highlighting respective programs and services that hinge on the protection and security of Filipino families, which the DSWD will collate and share. Online activities centered on the NFW celebration may be followed online using the hashtag #ProtektadongPamilyaSaCovid19.

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