The Wagayway Equality Coalition (WEC), a Batangas-based coalition of sexuality health and rights advocates, is lamenting the weak implementation of HIV ordinance within the locality, even as it is calling for the provincial government to provide concrete plans and stronger support for people living with HIV (PLHIVs).
Efforts continue to be lacking, according to Aivan Alvarez, president of WEC, who noted that the insufficiency of support and services for PLHIVs is even more felt during the pandemic, since COVID-19 also affected this community, and yet plans about them are not apparent.
The local HIV ordinance, for example, though passed in 2019, is “not being implemented well” so that whatever efforts there are do not reach and engage the key affected populations. Already, WEC held its Human Rights and HIV Caravan in March to lobby for an updated HIV ordinance that is compliant to Republic Act 11166, or the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act of 2018.
To allow the local government unit (LGU) to air its side, Outrage Magazine has reached out to the Batangas Provincial Health Office via its Facebook account. But as of press time, the message was only seen and no response has been received. (This is a developing story, and the publication will publish the LGU’s response if/when received – Ed)
Alvarez added that PLHIVs that WEC services have other concerns, including the lack of mental health services, rights education, financial or livelihood support, and a community center that may be used as a sundown clinic. While these can supposedly be “institutionalized by revisiting and amending the HIV ordinance of the province,” this institutionalization has yet to happen, said Alvarez.
In actuality, the provincial government of Batangas already provides P3,000 to PLHIVs, and more financial assistance as needed.
But even both are not enough, according to Alvarez.
The financial assistance provided once a year is, for Alvarez, insufficient; while the process to avail extra financial assistance is “exhausting” because of the numerous documents required.
“May times pa na feeling ng PLHIVs na nadidiscriminate sila (while applying for the said assistance),” Alvarez said.
(“There are times when the PLHIVS feel that they are being discriminated while applying for the said assistance).”)
Unfortunately for WEC, the pandemic also makes it hard for them to intervene and conduct their activities for Batangueño PLHIVs. It is exactly because of tis that they are left with no choice but to ask for the “support and help of the government now more than ever,”
“Siguraduhing walang naiiwan lalo na sa usaping pangkalusugan, bigyan ng pansin lalo na ang mga PLHIVs sa Batangas, konsultahin ang mga grupo nito at gawan ng mga polisiya na makakatulong para sa kanila,” Alvarez ended.
(“Ensure that no one is left behind on health concerns, that everyone is given attention especially the PLHIVs of Batangas, with their communities consulted, and implement policies that will be of use to them.”)