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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

WikiLeaks Cable on the US Lobby Against Breastfeeding

photo from
Last weekend, several people tagged me in this news report about a Wikileaks cable that the US Embassy lobbied against breastfeeding in the Philippines.  This was actually not something new.  In fact, during the height of the Supreme Court case on the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (RIRR), there were news reports about the American Chamber of Commerce calling then President Arroyo's attention to the RIRR of the Milk Code.   The AmCham stated that the Philippines' reputation as a stable and viable destination for investment would be at risk should the RIRR be signed and implemented.

Luckily, we had a breastfeeding champion - Francisco Duque who was the Health Secretary then.  He stood up to the bullies and proceeded to sign the RIRR.  Although some provisions of the RIRR were struck down by the Supreme Court, it was generally considered a victory for the breastfeeding community.
Since then, we have another breastfeeding law - the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act which was signed in 2009.  The implementing rules and regulations of this law took some time to be signed and finalized due to changes in administration and some issues.   Happily, however, the controversial provision on the minimum number of women employees was removed and the IRR has been signed and is now effective.
Despite the US lobby against breastfeeding as reported in WikiLeaks, I am very proud that the government stood its ground, signed and implemented the RIRR for the Milk Code, passed a new law on expanded breastfeeding promotion and signed and implemented the IRR for this law.  I don't think that the Philippines "bowed down" to cater to the whims of the US.
The biggest challenge I actually see now is the effective implementation of the law and regulations and of course, policing and reporting the violations.

What do you think?  Do you think the Philippines was greatly influenced by the US in our breastfeeding policy?


Topaz Horizon said...

So under the Milk Code, advertisements for children's milk should only be milk for kids aged 3 onwards. Well, that Kris Aquino-Bimby ad is for kids aged 1-3 years! I saw it so often kanina sa Miss Universe! Sabi pa nga ni yaya, "Ayan yung gatas para kay Vito, o!" Hmmm.

Jenny said...

hi frances! actually, it is not absolutely prohibited.  they need to get a permit from the FAD.  But that's the difficult thing about it.  I mean who will police na the Kris-Bimby ad did get the permit? For all we know, they can say, hey yes, we got a permit but wala naman pala and it is only FAD who will know if they did get a permit or not. 

Manilamommy said...

we're lucky that we had Duque who didn't bow down to the lobbyists! i agree implementation and enforcement (as with any other guidelines that we have) are key.

maybe the kris-bimby ad got the permit because there are loopholes in the irr?  i hope there is no real intent to misinform parents though. presenting choices (breastmilk and formula) is one thing but to intentionally mislead is another beast altogether.

Jenny said...

ok, i have to watch that ad! ma-youtube nga

OCMominManila said...

I sit on the Ad Standards Council panel sometimes and the screeners are pretty strict when it comes to govt-regulated products and their permits before airing.  I can give you a contact Jenny if you want to ask about how they were able to release the ad.

Jenny said...

wow! that would be great Kris!!! sige, please DM ;) thanks!

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