MANILA, Philippines—Breastfeeding advocates recently opposed the passage of a proposed measure they referred as “monster bill,” which was said would only propagate the interest of multinational milk companies.
The “monster bill” is a consolidation of four bills by Representatives Josephine Veronique Lacson-Noel and Rufus Rodriguez (HB3527); Lucy Gomez and Lani Revilla (HB 3537); Anna York Bondoc (HB 3396) and Atty. Magtanggol Gunigundo (HB 3525).
The “Act Promoting a Comprehensive Program on Breastfeeding Practices and Regulating the Trade, Marketing and Promotion of Certain Foods for Infant and Children” or the “Breastfeeding and Milk Regulation Act” will allow promotions of follow-on formula, growing-up milk supplements for six months and above will cause an “irreparable damage to the growth and development of our country,” said in a position paper led by Ines Fernandez of Save the Babies Coalition.
It added that allowing the advertisement of milk products for babies will only favor milk industry gains and commercial interests of multinational milk companies represented by Infant Pediatric Nutrition Association of the Philippines led by Nestle.
“Insidious marketing through advertising and promotions of babymilk/food products undermine the confidence of the mothers on her innate ability to sustain breastfeeding because of the seduction of sophisticated advertisements exposure that is heard and seen every 30 minutes daily over mass media,” it added.
It also said that allowing advertisement and promotions of products on babies age above six months contradicts the Milk Code or EO 51 passed by President Corazon Aquino in 1986 that aimed to protect breastfeeding with the next generation.
The Save for the Babies Coalition also condemned the donation of milk products especially during calamities, saying it was a “marketing trap.”
“Donating artificial milk products during emergency or in times of crisis in the guide of charity is a public relations media act for multinational milk companies,” it said.
However, it said that it agreed with the some of the general objectives of York’s bill as it “reflects the culture, history, values of the Filipino people backed up by 30 years of scientific evidence-based studies endorsed by World Health Organization/World Health Assembly Relations.”
The Save Babies Coalition is comprised of four non-government organizations namely: Civil Society for Educational Reform, Ecowaste Management Coalition, Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies Inc., Health Justice and Mother Support Groups Nationwide.
Meanwhile, Senator Pia Cayetano, author of the Expanded Breastfeeding Act, also opposed the proposed measure.
“I say with all humility, I have studied breastfeeding policies because I’ve worked on and sponsored breastfeeding act before…If you do not know the existing policies, the existing practice, madali mong sabihing maganda ito (it’s easy to say this is good for you)…I tell you now, tinataya ko po ang pangalan ko na hindi po yan papasa sa Senado hanggat ako po ang (I am betting my name that this won’t pass the Senate as long as I am the) chairman ng committee on women and health,” she said during the Breastfeeding Declaration of Commitment held in Sulo Hotel last week.