Category Archives: Press release

Influencer-Doctor: Vapes, E-Cigs Are Not Healthier Alternatives to Cigarettes

Aggressive marketing of vapes, e-cigs to youth and children alarms law group

Dr. Winston Tiwaquen, most commonly known as Dr. Kilimanguru with over 3.2 million followers on social media application TikTok, said in a radio interview on Saturday night that vapes and e-cigarettes are not healthier alternatives to regular cigarettes

Marami kasi ang nagsasabi na ang vape, ito ang savior, ito yung will save you from the negative effects of smoking kasi nga daw mas safe. Pero kasi, there have been studies nga of vape-associated lung injuries (There are those who claim that vape is a savior and will save you from the negative effects of smoking because it is safer. But there have been reports of vape-associated lung injuries),” said the physician. 

Tiwaquen rose to fame in the online medical community as Dr. Kilimanguru by debunking health and medical myths online and by urging his followers to seek scientific medical advice, instead of relying on hearsay. 

Dr. Winston Tiwaquen, widely known as Dr. Kilimanguru on TikTok

May mga chemicals [sa] vape that are not safe (There are chemicals in vapes that are not safe),” Tiwaquen said. “Sa FDA (Food and Drug Authority), ang mga e-cigarettes ay hindi approved bilang isang method para mag-quit sa smoking. Meron namang approved medications actually para tulungan ang isang individual na mag-quit ng smoking (FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as a method for smoking cessation. There are approved medications to help an individual quit smoking),” the doctor advised. 

Sa four years na pagva-vape mo, pwedeng wala kang nararamdaman. You’ll never know 20 years from now or 30 years from now (In your four years of vaping, even if you do not feel anything, you’ll never know 20 years from now or 30 years from now),” the doctor warned. “The idea is not to shift. The idea really is quitting, stopping completely inhaling anything foreign to the body,” Tiwaquen urged. 

Advertising targeted to children, youth

ImagineLaw, a public interest law organization, also reported during the same interview that vape and e-cigarette companies are deliberately targeting young people as their primary market

Ngayong panahon ng pandemya, nakikita nating mas umiigting ang advertising [ng mga vape at e-cigarette companies] online (Advertising of vape and e-cigarette companies online has intensified due to the pandemic),” said Atty. Anna Bueno, policy associate of the said law group. 

ImagineLaw expressed alarm over the use of social media influencers to get young people to use vape and e-cigarettes. “[May] preliminary data tayo na paggamit [ng vape and e-cigarette companies] ng mga social media influencers to promote these products…Napaka-engaging ng [social media] content na ‘yun lalo na sa mga kabataan so it makes it very irresistible at mukha siyang pa-cool pero harmful naman (We have preliminary data that vape and e-cigarette companies are using social media influencers to promote their products through engaging content that are irresistible to young people. They seem cool, but they are harmful),” Bueno reported.

Nakikita natin napakaraming flavors [ng vape at e-cigarettes]: chocolate, mango, watermelon, strawberry… na matamis at lasang kendi. Sino ba ang madalas o mahilig sa kendi at sa matatamis, ‘di ba ang mga kabataan din natin? So that’s one very clear proof that this is targeted to children, ‘yung advertising ng mga vapes at e-cigarettes (We’ve seen a lot of vape and e-cigarette flavors: chocolate, mango, watermelon, strawberry that are sweet and resemble candy that are attractive to children. That’s one clear proof that vape and e-cigarette advertising are targeted to children),” she explained.

Bueno also added that existing methods in age verification online–such as the use of mere “yes” or “no” questions–are unreliable and do not definitely indicate that only persons aged 21 years old and above may access and purchase these products, thus justifying a comprehensive ban on advertising online. In social media, age verification may not even be required and may be impossible to enforce properly.

Dahil sa kawalan ng magandang legal framework para i-regulate yung pag-benta ng vapes at e-cigarettes online, napakadali ng access [ng mga kabataan] ngayon at yun ang dapat pagtuunan ng pansin ng ating mga mambabatas (We currently lack sufficient legal framework to regulate the sale of vapes and e-cigarettes online, that’s why children have easy access to them. This should be addressed by our lawmakers),” she urged. 

Pending bills in Congress, such as House Bill 9007 and Senate Bill 2239, roll back existing protections against harms brought by vapes and e-cigarettes. At present, the use and purchase of these products are restricted to persons aged 21 years old and above, but the bills set this back to 18 years old, which may increase youth initiation to these products. Among others, the bills also remove the ban on flavorings set by Republic Act No. 11467 that further increases excise taxes on alcohol and e-cigarettes.

Providing Access to SRH Services Through the Safety Pantry

On May 28, 2021, sixteen (16) Safety Pantries have been launched simultaneously, by the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) in different locations, as part of the International Day of Action for Women’s Health.

As the Covid19 pandemic continues to affect the lives of Filipinos, FPOP recognizes that people’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights should be unhampered. The organization aims to extend sexual and reproductive health services and commodities, and other necessities through the FPOP Safety Pantry.

On the Safety Pantry tables, vitamins, condoms, lubes, contraceptive pills, alcohol wipes, sanitary napkins, malunggay supplements (capsule), baby dresses, diapers, and pregnancy and hygiene kits are available. People can also take home biscuits, rice, vegetables, canned goods, noodles, and even face shields and masks. Services on family planning, sexual and gender-based violence prevention, HIV testing and counseling, Hepatitis B screening, implant and IUD insertion, cervical cancer screening, and pre-natal check-up are also available. Standard safety protocols against Covid-19 were observed in the Safety Pantry sites located in:

1. Barangay 32, Tondo, Manila

2. Barangay Silangan, Quezon City

3. Barangay Tandang Sora, Quezon City

4. Baguio Public Market

5. T. Alonzo Street in Baguio City

6. Barangay Panamitan, Kawit in Cavite

7. Barangay Sta. Cruz, Naga in Camarines Sur

8. Sorsogon City

9. Arakan in North Cotabato

10.Barangay Dadiangas in General Santos City

11. Barangay Maimpis in Pampanga

12. Barangay Poblacion, Alaminos in Pangasinan

13. Surigao City

14. Davao City

15. Iloilo City

16. Masbate City

Inspired by the Maginhawa Community Pantry, the items given away came from various donors who support the advocacy the organization pursues. Building on the same idea, FPOP opted to name the initiative Safety Pantry as the word “safety” connotes a message of comfort and is safe and protected against sexually transmitted infection, HIV, unintended pregnancy, and sexual and gender-based violence.

The Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) is a service-oriented organization providing sexual and reproductive health services to all Filipinos. It has 12 active organization chapters with 17 Community Health Care Clinics offering an integrated package of essential services on family planning and reproductive health.

FPOP is one of the oldest and biggest volunteer organizations in the Philippines. It was founded on August 4, 1969, out of a merger of two organizations that pioneered the family planning movement in the Philippines. It is a member association of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).

Aside from various community activities such as the Safety Pantry, adolescent learning sessions, house-to-house outreach, and reproductive health medical missions, FPOP also provides free online consultation and other SRH services through their hotline called FPOP youRHotline. It can be reached on Facebook: www.facebook.com/yourhotline.ph or mobile number: 0998-988-8826, 8 AM to 10 PM daily.

FPOP Safety Pantry Facebook Live Links:

North Cotabato https://www.facebook.com/ranny.labiaga/videos/3908005145934432/

Cavite https://fb.watch/5M7MSUUoQp/

General Santos City https://www.facebook.com/FPOPSOCCSKSARGENChapter/videos/524482665583544/https://www.facebook.com/FPOPSOCCSKSARGENChapter/videos/2243189549195048/

Surigao
https://www.facebook.com/fpopsurigao1969/videos/1146591945812218/

Brgy. Silangan, QC
https://www.facebook.com/famplan.ph/videos/1411139825932214/

Women’s Rights Groups and Grassroots Organizations Come Together in an Online Rally for Women’s Health

On May 28, the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) and the Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network (PINSAN) led an online rally to amplify demands regarding women’s health amid the pandemic. Attended by a hundred women from various sectors, the rally is in line with the global commemoration of the International Day of Action for Women’s Health with the theme, “Women’s Health Matters: Ending the Inequality Pandemic and Ensuring Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights remain essential!”.

“COVID-19 has impacted us all, but we are not all impacted equally. It exposed and exacerbated long-standing social and gender inequalities that are manifested in many forms across contexts,” according to Marevic Parcon, Executive Director of WGNRR, in her opening remarks.

Screencaps from the online rally show women advocates and their calls related to women’s health

According to Parcon, this year’s campaign focuses on how the pandemic affects women, girls, and non-binary people’s health, especially those in the grassroots communities.

The rally featured interventions from leaders of various basic sector and community-based organizations, representing health workers, women human rights defenders, working women, rural women, indigenous women, urban poor women, and young people.

Flora Assidao-Santos from women’s group Oriang brought out concerns of urban poor women in accessing healthcare. According to Santos, poor women are not entertained in healthcare facilities because they are poor and are not prioritized for local interventions such as pre-natal and post-natal check-ups.

PINSAN spokesperson and EnGendeRights Executive Director, Atty. Clara Rita Padilla also criticized local government units for returning contraceptives to the national government with the “lame excuse” of lack of demand.

“Many poor women may want to use but cannot afford contraceptives. It is the job of the national and local governments to increase awareness on contraceptive information, supplies, and services to generate more demand for contraceptives,” Padilla said.

Poverty (kahirapan), along with fear (pangamba) and [worries over] their children’s futures (kinabukasan ng kabataan), was also cited by women from Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayuan (National Rural Women’s Congress) communities as the biggest barriers to women’s health. Meanwhile, women from Indigenous Peoples communities and those living in the Bangsamoro called for accessible public healthcare services as well as livelihood support.

Dr. Edelina Dela Paz of People’s Health Movement and Health Action Information Network noted how strict lockdown measures are gravely impacting people’s economic needs, as well as their health, as they risk their lives to go outside to work. She also decried militarized responses to the pandemic, citing contract tracing being done by the police instead of health workers. “[The pandemic is a] health issue, not a militarist issue,” she said.

“The online rally has really served to ground our demands this Day of Action for Women’s Health. We cannot view women’s health myopically. There needs to be structural change to address long-time neglect of women’s health and needs,” ED Parcon said in a comment after the forum.

Relevant links:

Watch the May 28 Call for Action video summary at https://www.facebook.com/WGNRR/posts/5838228942868999