If the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) would have its way, no Filipino worker will ever be ignorant of HIV and AIDS anymore.
Recently released Department Order 102-10 signed by DOLE Secretary Marianito Roque on the “Guidelines for the Implementation of HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control in the Workplace Program,” requires “all private workplaces to have a policy on HIV and AIDS and to implement a workplace program in accordance with Republic Act 8504 and provisions of the Labor Code and other international standards.”
RA 8504 is the Aids Prevention and Control Act of 1988. HIV is short for Human Immuno Virus, which when contracted by an individual may develop into AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. The virus attacks the body’s defense against viruses and bacteria, making it more vulnerable to diseases.
To identify practical strategies in strenghtening policy and programs on HIV&AIDS prevention for workers, the Institute for Labor Studies (ILS), the research, advocacy and policy arm of the DOLE, will hold the first forum on HIV and AIDS in the workplace. Entitled HIV&AIDS and Decent Work: Strengthening Policies and Programs on HIV/AIDS Prevention for Filipino Workers, the forum is scheduled on April 15, 10:00 am, at the PST Hall of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) Building in Ortigas, Mandaluyong City.
Increasing incidence of HIV and AIDS
“The incidence of Filipinos getting infected by the virus continues to increase. As of December 2009, a total of 4,802 people were found to be HIV positive. Of these figures, 1,285 are Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs),” said Cynthia R. Cruz, Executive Director of the ILS. “HIV&AIDS threatens fundamental rights at work and undermines efforts to provide women and men decent and productive work conditions of freedom, equity, security and dignity. One specific issue is discrimination in the workplace brought by the stigma associated with the disease,” said Cruz.
According to the National Epidemiology Center of the Department of Health (DOH), as of March 2010 there are 120 new HIV sero-positive individuals– a 103% increase from last year’s 59 cases. Of the 120 individuals, 87% of them are males. Most of the cases’ ages range from 20-24 (29%) and 25-29 (28%). The number of HIV cases have increased significantly since the first document case in 1984. Based on DOH data, from having one (1) new case reported every three (3) days in 2000, this number has increased to two (2) new cases per day in 2009.
Working World Trialogues
The forum, which is part of the Working World Trialogues (WWT) organized by labor think tank ILS, will be the first time that government officials, employers and labor groups, along with academics and professionals, will gather to discuss the threats of HIV and AIDS to Filipino workers, both local and overseas.
“We want to explore how HIV/AIDS is affecting the workplace. Through the WWT, we want to ferret out the issues on HIV and AIDS that are affecting our workers today. We want to hear from our stakeholders and social partners how we can find workable solutions to the increasing incidence of HIV and AIDS in the workplace. Inputs from our partners and stakeholders will certainly help us define gaps and challenges and create better strategies in implementing policies and programs on HIV&AIDS, ”said Director Cruz.
DOLE Department Order 102-10 emphasizes the joint and distinct roles and responsibilities of employers and workers when it comes to formulating HIV and AIDS prevention programs. Under the Order, workplaces have the option to integrate the program in the Collective Bargaining Agreements; make it a part of the Occupational Safety and Health program; or create a separate program altogether.
The WWT is a public forum of the ILS, where emerging and urgent labor and employment concerns and responses are discussed among stakeholders and experts. It is designed especially for labor and employment issues that involve multiple stakeholders and need fast-tracked solutions.
Institute for Labor Studies, Department of Labor and Employment
Contact Nos.: (02) 5273490/5273452 / Fax: (02) 5273491
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