The 2nd Regional Population Executive Board (RPEB) Meeting of the regional office of the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM VII) in Central Visayas held its Meeting conducted online with fifteen (15) participants attending last July 6, 2020 (Monday) from 2 to 4:00 in the afternoon facilitated by Ms. Archel Lea Laurito.  Led by POPCOM VII Regional Director Atty. Bruce N. Ragas and Asst. Regional Director Darlynn S. Remolino, this is the first online RPEB in the context of the pandemic in the pre-vaccine period (PVP) and ongoing quarantine in the region.

The Agenda included sharing the Demographic Vulnerability Tool (DVT) tables of POPCOM endorsed by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) by virtue of Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 2020-001 which was presented to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Region VII and other government agencies last May 5, 2020 in Cebu City.  These key DVT indicators in the barangay-level determine whether or not a local government unit (LGU) has risks -high, medium or low – depending on three (3) main factors: 1. The size of household spaces less than 20 square meters and number of people living therein that should not be more than four (4) to ensure physical distancing; 2. The number of senior citizens or people with ages 60 years old and above that should not be over twenty (20) living with others in spaces less than 20 square meters; and 3.) The number of senior citizens or people 60 years old and above that should not be over ten (10) living alone in a house as they need to go out for their needs.  

Demographic Vulnerability Tool (DVT) Database Tables

             The DVT database tables available at the POPCOM website has a total of seven (7) tables for barangays to fill-in as reference in view of land area, population, presence of COVID 19 cases (confirmed, suspect and probable) and the three (3) other demographic vulnerabilities explained above in terms of size of spaces, number of people living in these spaces and senior citizens in these spaces. POPCOM believes that the DVT tables are important demographic references for planning and implementing pandemic response, identifying and implementing location in quarantine and physical distancing, prioritizing and quantifying support, and seeing vulnerability trends in the barangay level.  Initial and unofficial analysis of the DVTs of the tri-cities in Metro Cebu (Cebu City, Lapulapu City and Mandaue City) were presented based on the data gathered from POPCOM Central Office with assumptions and data reference from the Philippine Statistics Office by the POPCOM statistician.  The data and analyses however, needed to be validated by the LGUs, the DILG and the PSA.   In view of the DVT tables, NEDA Regional Director Efren Carreon posed some queries on the availability of data, especially for the barangays in Cebu City.  The DVT as a tool however, needs to be filled up with actual data from the field for its analysis to be considered as official especially at the level of the LGUs.

POPCOM Helpline

The POPCOM Helpline was also discussed as this provides the flow of referral with concerns on Family Planning (FP), Adolescent Health and Development (AHD), Sexuality, Teenage Pregnancy and Gender-based Violence (GBV). The POPCOM Helpline was set-up by the central office with the regions within the context of COVID 19- health pandemic for clients to have a contact center ensuring continued flow of services even during quarantine and stay-at-home order when people cannot easily go out, when there is need for quarantine passes and transportation is difficult.  Some regional staff are assigned as responders and they act like call center agents to these concerns.  The POPCOM Helpline provides access to services and referral, strengthen barangay emergency response team, and clients are redirected to appropriate health facilities and service providers with the help of communication channels – landlines, cellphones, internet, emails and social media.

             The POPCOM Helpline provides basic and essential information to clients on RPFP, AHD, GBV, other sexual health concerns, make commodities available to clients with service providers, such as implant insertions, information- dissemination on the concerns of young people – physical and physiological information for adolescents, GBV- referral services to clients with a referral system in the barangay level following protocols to access services, such as  identifying the victim and informing the LGU.  Its purpose is to create a two-way intervention, receiving clients’ reports, and other population-related issues and coordinating with LGUs and agencies.  POPCOM VII Asst. Regional Director Darlynn Remolino clarified that POPCOM Helpline is only for basic information, and with Gender-based Violence (GBV) for example, it is not intended for counselling. If ever, clients are referred to DSWD/MSWD and local service providers. The POPCOM Helpline has an existing Manual and Guidelines/Protocol to follow; it is open from Monday to Friday from 8 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon.  There may be messages received 24 hours from its social media platform in its facebook page.

Written by:

Maria Lourdes Garillos

Information Officer II – IMCU