The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM-Caraga) strengthened its partnership with the regional offices of Commission on Human Rights and Department of Health to combat Gender-Based Violence amidst reports of increasing incidence in the region during the pandemic. 

During a virtual press conference organized by POPCOM-Caraga to highlight World Population Day 2020, Regional Director Alexander Makinano stated that they will continue their advocacy not only with Responsible Parenthood – Family Planning (RP-FP) and Adolescent Health and Development Program but Gender-Based Violence as well. POPCOM Municipal Focal Persons and Barangay Health Volunteers the entire region are instructed to cater reports regarding Gender-Based Violence to present immediate actions of the reported cases.

POPCOM Helplines are also in place to staff any kind of reports regarding Gender-Based Violence. Helpline responders can be reached at 09951550746 (Globe) and 09610419159 (Smart) from Monday to Friday, 8:00-5:00 pm.

RD Makinano also assures the public that they will carry on the programs of the Commission to the parents and couples regarding family planning and AHD programs for the adolescence and teenagers during this time of community lockdown. Community Caravans for Family Planning essentials are still operating to different barangays and municipalities around the Region.

The pronouncements of POPCOM-Caraga were in response to Attorney Jerefe Bacang, Regional Director of the CHR-13 who revealed that, Caraga is third on the list of regions with the highest incidence of Gender-Based Violence against Women from March 17 to June 11, 2020, with 154 cases of VAWC, 18 cases of Rape, 3 cases of Photo and Video Voyeurism and 1 case of Safe Spaces Act with a total of 176 cases.

In her report, Director Bacang said that, 541 cases of rape, 148 cases of acts of lasciviousness, 15 cases of trafficking, and 2 cases of sexual harassment were tallied by the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Center, from February 14 to April 14

RD Bacang also stressed out that in every 4 women, 1 of them is experiencing spousal violence (physical, sexual, or emotional) by a current or most recent husband/partner and only 1/3 of them sought help from the government agencies brought by fear and ignorance.

On the part of CHD-Caraga, Chief of Local Health and Support Division Doctor Ernesto  Pareja utters that Public and Private sector collaboration will intensify the campaign of Violence against Women and Children to strengthen people’s awareness and knowledge regarding VAWC.

Chief Pareja also included that there are protocols of the DOH-Caraga to prevent and reduce family separation and other forms of child protection risks and coordination to Local Barangay Units to create and maintain child-friendly community messaging on children’s unique risks and vulnerabilities related to the outbreak.