|photo from http://nonewshoesforme.blogspot.com/|
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?