MANILA — President Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act into law five days before Christmas, Malacañang said Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President signed the law on Dec. 20, 2018 but only made the confirmation on Wednesday (Jan. 9, 2019).
Panelo lauded lawmakers including various stakeholders who contributed to the passage of a law that strengthens the existing policy which prevents the further spread of HIV/AIDS in the country.
“This piece of landmark legislation will significantly reduce the stigma of people living with HIV or AIDS,” Panelo said in a statement.
He described the law’s enactment and signing as “timely and relevant” following a report from the Department of Health (DOH) which showed that the Philippines has the highest percentage relative to the the increase of new HIV cases in the Asia-Pacific region from 2010 to 2016.
According to Panelo, the new law provides for the establishment of policies and programs to deliver proper treatment, care and support services to Filipinos living with HIV.
He said these programs will be in tune with key principles of human rights, gender equality and meaningful participation of communities.
Panelo’s confirmation comes day after he said that the President is “most likely” to support the passage of the measure.
He said the Palace will release a copy of the law to the public once it has undergone appropriate documentation by the Office of the President.
Prior to Panelo’s confirmation, former Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher “Bong” Go was first to announce that the President signed the measure into law.
Go, in a statement, said the signing of the bill shows the President’s concern for the welfare of all Filipinos.
“Alam po niya ang matinding panganib na dala ng sakit na ito kaya gumawa ang gobyerno ng karampatang hakbang para protektahan ang mga Pilipino,” (The President knows the grave danger brought by this condition that is why government executed measures to protect Filipinos’ welfare),” Go said.
In October 2018, the Congress ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the HIV and AIDS Policy Act.
Under the bill, the government is mandated “to improve access to HIV services, especially for key populations and vulnerable communities, and ensure social and financial risk protection for those who need to access these services.”
The measure also provides that minors aged 15 years and older will no longer need their parents’ consent before they receive tests for HIV. (PNA) By Azer Parrocha