January 21, 2018, 3:30 am
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1 Philippine Peso = 0.07248 UAE Dirham
1 Philippine Peso = 2.15117 Albanian Lek
1 Philippine Peso = 0.03513 Neth Antilles Guilder
1 Philippine Peso = 0.37432 Argentine Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02466 Australian Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.03513 Aruba Florin
1 Philippine Peso = 0.03947 Barbados Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 1.63391 Bangladesh Taka
1 Philippine Peso = 0.0315 Bulgarian Lev
1 Philippine Peso = 0.00743 Bahraini Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 34.55654 Burundi Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01974 Bermuda Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02619 Brunei Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.13539 Bolivian Boliviano
1 Philippine Peso = 0.06307 Brazilian Real
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01974 Bahamian Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 1.25863 Bhutan Ngultrum
1 Philippine Peso = 0.19114 Botswana Pula
1 Philippine Peso = 395.1056 Belarus Ruble
1 Philippine Peso = 0.03943 Belize Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02465 Canadian Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01899 Swiss Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 11.98717 Chilean Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 0.12629 Chinese Yuan
1 Philippine Peso = 56.09039 Colombian Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 11.14821 Costa Rica Colon
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01974 Cuban Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 1.78074 Cape Verde Escudo
1 Philippine Peso = 0.40983 Czech Koruna
1 Philippine Peso = 3.49517 Djibouti Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 0.12017 Danish Krone
1 Philippine Peso = 0.94356 Dominican Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 2.24754 Algerian Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.25256 Estonian Kroon
1 Philippine Peso = 0.34873 Egyptian Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.537 Ethiopian Birr
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01614 Euro
1 Philippine Peso = 0.03952 Fiji Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01423 Falkland Islands Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01424 British Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.08955 Ghanaian Cedi
1 Philippine Peso = 0.95481 Gambian Dalasi
1 Philippine Peso = 177.50149 Guinea Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 0.14478 Guatemala Quetzal
1 Philippine Peso = 4.06335 Guyana Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.15424 Hong Kong Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.4645 Honduras Lempira
1 Philippine Peso = 0.11993 Croatian Kuna
1 Philippine Peso = 1.2536 Haiti Gourde
1 Philippine Peso = 4.98796 Hungarian Forint
1 Philippine Peso = 262.6801 Indonesian Rupiah
1 Philippine Peso = 0.06734 Israeli Shekel
1 Philippine Peso = 1.2595 Indian Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 23.36688 Iraqi Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 722.49855 Iran Rial
1 Philippine Peso = 2.02684 Iceland Krona
1 Philippine Peso = 2.44306 Jamaican Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01395 Jordanian Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 2.18305 Japanese Yen
1 Philippine Peso = 2.02388 Kenyan Shilling
1 Philippine Peso = 1.36803 Kyrgyzstan Som
1 Philippine Peso = 79.05665 Cambodia Riel
1 Philippine Peso = 8.11131 Comoros Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 17.76199 North Korean Won
1 Philippine Peso = 21.05013 Korean Won
1 Philippine Peso = 0.00592 Kuwaiti Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01618 Cayman Islands Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 6.40616 Kazakhstan Tenge
1 Philippine Peso = 163.40439 Lao Kip
1 Philippine Peso = 29.70989 Lebanese Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 3.03631 Sri Lanka Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 2.51372 Liberian Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.24018 Lesotho Loti
1 Philippine Peso = 0.06017 Lithuanian Lita
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01225 Latvian Lat
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02645 Libyan Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.1822 Moroccan Dirham
1 Philippine Peso = 0.33221 Moldovan Leu
1 Philippine Peso = 0.99072 Macedonian Denar
1 Philippine Peso = 26.54431 Myanmar Kyat
1 Philippine Peso = 47.6416 Mongolian Tugrik
1 Philippine Peso = 0.15887 Macau Pataca
1 Philippine Peso = 6.94691 Mauritania Ougulya
1 Philippine Peso = 0.64535 Mauritius Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 0.3059 Maldives Rufiyaa
1 Philippine Peso = 14.08092 Malawi Kwacha
1 Philippine Peso = 0.36718 Mexican Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 0.07768 Malaysian Ringgit
1 Philippine Peso = 0.24178 Namibian Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 7.06532 Nigerian Naira
1 Philippine Peso = 0.6045 Nicaragua Cordoba
1 Philippine Peso = 0.15516 Norwegian Krone
1 Philippine Peso = 2.01397 Nepalese Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02711 New Zealand Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.00759 Omani Rial
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01974 Panama Balboa
1 Philippine Peso = 0.06337 Peruvian Nuevo Sol
1 Philippine Peso = 0.06241 Papua New Guinea Kina
1 Philippine Peso = 1 Philippine Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 2.17782 Pakistani Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 0.06737 Polish Zloty
1 Philippine Peso = 110.75588 Paraguayan Guarani
1 Philippine Peso = 0.07183 Qatar Rial
1 Philippine Peso = 0.07523 Romanian New Leu
1 Philippine Peso = 1.11021 Russian Rouble
1 Philippine Peso = 16.49398 Rwanda Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 0.07401 Saudi Arabian Riyal
1 Philippine Peso = 0.15294 Solomon Islands Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.26317 Seychelles Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 0.13811 Sudanese Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.15903 Swedish Krona
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02605 Singapore Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01423 St Helena Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.43825 Slovak Koruna
1 Philippine Peso = 150.5822 Sierra Leone Leone
1 Philippine Peso = 11.09138 Somali Shilling
1 Philippine Peso = 395.67793 Sao Tome Dobra
1 Philippine Peso = 0.17269 El Salvador Colon
1 Philippine Peso = 10.16341 Syrian Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.24082 Swaziland Lilageni
1 Philippine Peso = 0.62838 Thai Baht
1 Philippine Peso = 0.04813 Tunisian Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.04392 Tongan paʻanga
1 Philippine Peso = 0.07512 Turkish Lira
1 Philippine Peso = 0.1331 Trinidad Tobago Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.57902 Taiwan Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 44.22736 Tanzanian Shilling
1 Philippine Peso = 0.56937 Ukraine Hryvnia
1 Philippine Peso = 71.46241 Ugandan Shilling
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01974 United States Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.56325 Uruguayan New Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 160.3513 Uzbekistan Sum
1 Philippine Peso = 0.19686 Venezuelan Bolivar
1 Philippine Peso = 447.97712 Vietnam Dong
1 Philippine Peso = 2.03691 Vanuatu Vatu
1 Philippine Peso = 0.0496 Samoa Tala
1 Philippine Peso = 10.5818 CFA Franc (BEAC)
1 Philippine Peso = 0.05329 East Caribbean Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 10.49813 CFA Franc (BCEAO)
1 Philippine Peso = 1.92441 Pacific Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 4.9329 Yemen Riyal
1 Philippine Peso = 0.24034 South African Rand
1 Philippine Peso = 102.41761 Zambian Kwacha
1 Philippine Peso = 7.14229 Zimbabwe dollar

Dedicated, overworked personnel sustain gov’t hospitals’ program for abused women and children (2)

BY ARIANNE CHRISTIAN TAPAO
 VERA Files
 
ACROSS from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH)’s emergency room, a large, green building leads to two special units designed to protect women and children.

The bigger one is the Child Protection Unit (CPU), a two-story office complete with equipment, facilities and staff. Beside it, the smaller, cramped room called the Women’s Desk has only tables strewn with paperwork. 

Both serve as the Women and Children Protection Units (WCPUs) of the PGH, created under the 1997 Administrative Order 1-B, later repealed by the Women and Children Protection Program in 2013 to reinforce implementation.

While they offer the best services in the country, the crown jewels of the government’s protection program continue to face a string of challenges – overworked personnel, lack of staff, funds, equipment and facilities, all of which speak volumes about the quality of assistance children and women victims of abuse in Metro Manila are getting.

The units operate separately, but both lament an overwhelming number of patients, most of them referred by other state-run hospitals. Nine hospitals visited for this report confirmed they would refer many cases, especially of sexual abuse, to the PGH.

Quite a number of women and children come on their own, but most are referred by several government hospitals from around Manila and Quezon City, and as far as Cavite and Rizal, which are actually required to have their own units.

“Something as basic as giving medico-legal forms, why can’t they handle the case,” RizzaPamintuan, women’s desk officer, said. “Is it really just an issue of competence or is it really a problem of willingness to actually do it?”

The result is unsurprising: The protection units of PGH continue to operate with limited resources, long struggling to cater to the needs of the most vulnerable sectors of society.

It is the life 35-year-old Pamintuan has become accustomed to in the Women’s Desk, where she hears harrowing tales of women raped or hit by husbands or strangers. She would receive 20 to 30 cases a month. Sometimes the number reaches80.

The Women’s Desk was created to comply with the Rape Victims Assistance and Protection Act of 1998, which states government agencies should “establish in every province and city a rape crisis center located in a government hospital or health clinic.”

Funding and staffing depend on the hospital. “We’re mainstreamed to the hospital, so you are looking at the whole hospital in itself as the center,” Pamintuan said.

Should she retire or resign, the post may be absorbed by other departments that need it, leaving the Women’s Desk with no personnel. “The possibility of losing the one staff they have is very real,” she said.

Marilyn Julia, a social worker at medical services unit, is the only other Women’s Desk staff, but she said in an interview   she would be replaced by January. As per protocol, social workers take rounds in special units for three years, including the Women’s Desk.

The Child Protection Unit is luckier, as it enjoys a roster of seven child protection specialists, a nurse, three psychologists and eight social workers. It also has three legal consultants, a developmental pediatrician for children with special needs and a police officer. 

It has an interview room, filled with toys to put children at ease, where doctors talk while psychiatrists observe in another room through a one-way mirror and two closed-circuit television cameras set up on the ceiling.

Yet due to high demand, its workers are stressed as they sometimes work way past office hours on the streets of Metro Manila to find temporary homes for abused children. 

Social worker Maria Perpetua Sadio estimates six to seven children visit the CPU every day.

“The stories are depressing, it’s hard to listen. You’re already tired with three or four. What more if it’s six,” Sadio said in an interview. Some days, they reach 11 and the office, which opens at 9 a.m., would close at 8 p.m.

“If there are children that need to be taken to shelters, the process lengthens,” she said.

Most shelters are run by churches and Sadio recalled a time she pleaded till late evening with nuns to take in an “emergency case”. Had there been none, she would have stayed with the child in the CPU as taking a child home is forbidden.

“I was home by 9 or 10 p.m,” she said. The next day, she set out to look for another shelter.

The CPU operates like a non-government organization, with funding from different sources like the British Embassy, Sadio said. 

In October, the hospital administration finally took the CPU under it, which means more institutional support, Pamintuan added in a recent interview.

The CPU follows an ideal protocol devised by the Department of Justice’s Committee for Special Protection of Children, of which the CPU is a member and plays a crucial role in case management.

As the first step of administering medical and legal services, officers at the CPU will assess if a case falls under child abuse laws. An “in-take” social worker would then interview the victim before he or she is made to undergo a medico-legal exam.

The Women’s Desk also strives to follow a protocol for victims, who are given medico-legal forms and scheduled psychiatric evaluations.

Problems arise if help is not given early to those who might decide to file a case in court. “They would clean themselves because they’re grossed out over what happened,” she said. 

As abused women move around or wash their bodies, the chances of collecting evidence, such as the perpetrator’s semen, shrink.

In addition to other challenges, there has not been much source of funding for the Women’s Desk since the pork barrel scandal erupted in 2013, cutting millions of pesos the office could have gotten, which were around millions. 

They were only able to get around P200,000 before the issue broke out, Pamintuan said. “Everything is frozen, so are our accounts.”

“There are instances that I spend on supplies,” she added, referring to rape kits, a box containing swabs, urine containers or blood collection device, among others, which a sexually abused victim may use to form a case in court.

That can be tough as Pamintuan receives salary grade 6, which means she receives only P13,000 a month. “At least there’s hazard pay.”

Yet, these rape kits would often be useless, as it takes years before a case is heard in court. Instead of being taken to Camp Crame for analysis, the kits are left in a storage room to rot. 

Under the 2009 Magna Carta of Women, all government bodies should create programs that would allocate five percent of their budget that would enhance development and mainstreaming of gender in an agency.

In the meantime, doctors are willing to help on-call, but request they be given a room, since the hospital is always crowded. Their room is so tiny to begin with. 

While the situation at the CPU seems better, Dr. Marissa Resulta, who also works at the WCPU of the Rizal Medical Center, admits her job entails a heavy burden.

Like Pamintuan, Resulta said listening to patients is hard. “Every now and then, they relive the trauma, stare off into space. The person they love the most abuse them.”

Lisa (not her real name), an adolescent, came with her elder brother to the CPU. In tears, she recalled how she was molested by her own father, and how their mother did not believe her, even telling her: “You asked for it, so it happened.” 

Lisa’s brother also cried, knowing he would have to send his father to jail. Listening, Resulta could not hold back her tears.

“As a physician, you should not show any emotions, you should show no partiality. You should stay neutral. But at that moment, I cried with them,” she said.

It is nowhere near the most pleasant job in the world, but knowing they’re not at the losing end is enough, she said. “The only consolation is at least I was able to defend them.”

This is also the very reason Pamintuan has stayed at her job for almost two decades now. Yet even she can only do so much, and may leave the unit in two years. There’s a limit to what one can endure, she said, before the stories of abuse take a toll on you.

With Julia out next year, Pamintuan is also looking for her replacement, but it’s hard to entice someone to take over a “depressing” job.

But Pamintuan, determined to keep the Women’s Desk alive, said she cannot leave it unmanned.

All these efforts are to ensure the sustainability of the only office at PGH that provides care for abused women at the hospital.“Just to make sure it lives on,” she said. 

***

This is the conclusion of a two-part storytaken from the author’s undergraduate thesis  done under the supervision of UP journalism professor Yvonne T. Chua.

***

VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”
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