Palace assures Duterte’s support for HIV law awaiting signature

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By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

MALACAÑANG on Tuesday assured the public that President Rodrigo R. Duterte supports the proposed HIV and AIDS Policy Act of 2018.

The proposed measure, which seeks to repeal Republic Act No. 8504 or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998 and address the rising incidence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV-AIDS) by creating a national multi-sectoral strategy, was ratified by the Senate and the House of Representatives in October last year.

Asked for an update during a Palace briefing on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said: “You know, the President is laden with so many responsibilities, activities, events….Whether it was signed or it has lapsed into law, ganoon din iyon (it is the same). Dahil kung ayaw niya iyon, eh di vineto (veto) niya kaagad iyon immediately, ‘di ba? (Because if he does not like it, he would veto it immediately, right?)”

“So the fact na hindi niya ginagalaw, most likely gusto niya iyon,” he added. (So the fact that he did not touch it, most likely he likes it.)

“But regardless of whether it will be passed into law by reason of the failure of the Chief of Executive to sign it or because he signed it, eh ganoon pa rin iyon, batas pa rin (it is the same, it is still a law),” he continued.

The Senate Bill No. 1390 was authored and sponsored by Sens. Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel and Joseph Victor G. Ejercito.

“This is our way of updating the government framework on HIV-AIDS. We need a scientific, medical, human rights-based and inclusive policy to fully address the problem”, Ms. Hontiveros-Baraquel said in a press release.

“The rapid increase in the last six years reflects an alarming landscape: the epidemic is expanding in urban centers, affecting disproportionately populations and communities that are marginalized and vulnerable: young Filipinos; gay and bisexual men; transgender people; and people who use drugs,” she also said.

Under the proposed measure, the government is required “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.”