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Philippines’ first law on AIDS prevention and control
« on: December 05, 2017, 09:56:47 AM »
STATEMENT BY THE
HONORABLE RON P. SALO
KABAYAN Party-list
Assistant Majority Leader
RANKING SOLON SEES NEW HIV-AIDS POLICY IN PLACE BY MAY 2018

Nearly 20 years after the approval of the Philippines’ first law on AIDS prevention and control, RA 8504, on February 13, 1998, the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading House Bill 6617 or the proposed Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act.

As author of HB 4276 which was consolidated into HB 6617, I hope this measure will become law by February 2018. The Senate already has a counterpart measure in SB 1390, which has approaches and many provisions similar to those of HB 6617.

Considering February 2018 is just weeks away and many provisions need to be reconciled, it would be better for Congress to get this law right more than to get it passed on the 20th anniversary of its predecessor law.

Perhaps enactment of the new HIV-AIDS policy law by May 2018 is the more prudent target.

Both HB 6617 and SB 1390 are the results of many lessons learned since 1998 in the struggle against HIV-AIDS. These two bills are vast improvements compared to RA 8504. Both seek to repeal RA 8504.

Both have better provisions on discrimination, confidentiality, health and support services, testing, screening, counseling, prevention, education, information, and misinformation.

From 26 members in RA 8504, the Philippine National AIDS Council will have 28 members if HB 6617’s PNAC composition prevails over the Senate version.

HB 6617 provides for two representatives of organizations of persons living with HIV and AIDS (from the current one representative). New additions to the PNAC are one representative each of organizations with expertise on standard setting and service delivery, and the chairpersons or representatives of the National Youth Commission and Civil Service Commission.

In HB 6617, the 17th Congress deemed it wise to trust and delegate to the concerned government agencies, the formulation and adoption of implementing measures and mechanisms for very specific provisions, in addition to the new implementing rules and regulations by the PNAC.

For example, the PhilHealth is tasked to develop packages and mechanisms for persons living with HIV, unborn and newborn children of infected mothers, and orphans living with HIV. PhilHealth will also propose as reference price for HIV and AIDS services in government hospitals.

HB 6617 also gives immunity from suit to HIV educators, licensed social workers, health workers and other HIV and AIDS service providers for acts in performance of the duties that do not violate provisions of the new law.  (END)

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