The Commission on Population and Development and its partner agencies in the Pre-Marriage Orientation and Counseling (PMOC) Program eye uninterrupted provision of information and services to fully equip the Filipino couples with appropriate knowledge and skills for successful and harmonious married life amidst trials, particularly during COVID-19 pandemic.

This was learned in the virtual conference of the Regional Population Executive Board (RPEB ) on May 28 as hosted by POPCOM-Caraga, and echoed in the virtual media briefing with the Philippine Information Agency on June 1.

Alexander A. Makinano, POPCOM-Caraga Regional Director, highlighted the importance of assisting the Filipino couples to become more responsible in their decisions and choices especially in matters involving the health and safety of their family especially during the national health emergency.

PMOC has been designed by POPCOM with the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Interior and Local Government, and Philippine Statistics Authority as a crucial first step prior to getting married, according to RD Makinano. He continued that the program has been implemented to  guide the couples that the decision to get married must be well thought out, and must be made only after careful consideration, thorough understanding, and ample preparation.

In the ordinary times, all marriage license applicants are required to attend the Pre-Marriage Orientation to be conducted by a team of facilitators at least four hours. However, applicant couples at least one member of which is 18-25 years old, must also attend the Pre-Marriage Counseling to be conducted by an accredited pre-marriage counselor

Following the Joint Advisory 2020-01 issued by the said national government agencies, the existing protocols as well as sessions content and methodologies shall be provided to a maximum of four (4) couples while  strictly observing physical distancing of at least three feet or 1 meter apart. In the entire duration of the session, strict use of face mask or other protective equipment must be also followed.

With the help of the audio-video presentation (AVP), the facilitators should refrain physical interaction between and among the couples.

The PMOC Team of the city and municipal LGUs are required to conduct the PMO session at a minimum of two hours while the PMC session at a minimum of one and half hours and with both sessions conducted within the same calendar day complying all other public health standards, such as temperature check and other health examination, personal protection and hygiene, cleanliness of facilities, and safety use of equipment.

The team is given an option to conduct non-interactive session where couples are participating outside of the PMOC session hall and in their respective homes. The standard 15 couples for the PMO and 6 couples for the PMC can be accommodated under this mode.

As provided for under the interim guidelines, the PMOC Certificates are considered valid for a period of one year from its issuance. In the event that the issued marriage license to a would-be couple expires without being utilized due to the difficulty  brought by the public health emergency prompting the couple to re-apply for the same, the previously issued PMOC certificates may still be used by the would-be couple without the need to attend to attend the PMOC sessions.

 The assistance to the LGUs in the conduct of PMOC services are among the functions of the concerned NGAs in these trying times.