It is official: BSP is now Breastfeeding Act compliant-A A +A
Sunday, August 18, 2013
ADVOCATES of breastfeeding in the Philippines will be glad to know that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), one of the most admired government institutions, has set another good example to other organizations by officially upholding the rights of breastfeeding women.
Just a day before the National Breastfeeding Month of August, BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. signed Office Order No. 0655, Series of 2013, also known as the Breastfeeding Policies and Support Program in the BSP.
It contains policies and procedures in the promotion and practice of breastfeeding pursuant to the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 (Republic Act No. 10028) and the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) issued by the Department of Health in 2011.
Three of its major provisions are 1) the establishment of lactation room/s for breastfeeding employees within office premises; 2) break intervals (separate from regular lunch or coffee breaks) totaling at least 40 minutes for every eight hours work period for nursing employees to express and store milk; and 3) the Bank, through the proper divisions, to facilitate the conduct of breastfeeding classes and activities that promote awareness on breastfeeding within the organization.
This is a significant victory for the proponents of breastfeeding in the BSP, who have been working to create awareness and garner management support on the practice since 2008. One of these women is my chief-of-staff Atty. Jenny Ong, who expressed glee on the release of Office Order No. 0655.
“I feel very happy that the policy has been instituted. I started working on this when I first came to BSP in 2008. As a co-terminus employee, I am ecstatic that I will have a legacy in the institution supporting my advocacy, even after I am no longer here.”
Her partner in the advocacy, Ms. Claire Mogol of the BSP Corporate Affairs Office, recalled how they lobbied to have a room in BSP where working mothers like them can express milk, which they would feed to their children when they get home after work.
“Atty. Ong sent an email to then Deputy Governor Armando Suratos (now a Monetary Board Member) about our concern. We were surprised that he immediately replied and said he will see if it is possible,” she shared.
In 2009, the first “milk bank” of BSP was established. It was furnished with cubicles wherein mothers can express breast milk in private during office breaks, cabinets for storage of their pumps and other things, and a refrigerator where they can deposit their milk and withdraw these at the end of the day.
Today, we already have two milk banks that are being used by about 60-70 BSP employees according to Ms. Ada Cruz of the BSP Human Resource Management Department. Cruz said the milk banks have also become a bonding and support area for the nursing mothers, who would share experiences and knowledge with each other.
She added that with an official order out, more working mothers in the BSP will be encouraged to practice breastfeeding because the BSP itself has given them time and place to do it.
Last Thursday, Dr. Elvira L. Henares-Esguerra and Nona Andaya-Castillo of Breastfeeding Philippines gave an inspiring talk to about 40 nursing moms and expectant moms in BSP as part of BSP's annual Breastfeeding Festival. Andaya-Castillo taught the moms how to use an improvised breastfeeding sling using “malong” while the former shared how breastfeeding has turned her life around for the better.
Henares-Esguerra said that for her first two children, she wasn’t able to breastfeed because nobody around her knew how. She thought this, and her work, made her distant to her kids, so she left her dermatology practice to stay home and make up for lost time.
But when she finally learned how to breastfeed after having her third child, she regained confidence to pursue her career. Why? Breastfeeding made her secure about her bond with her child. Moreover, it also guaranteed to her that her child is properly nourished with all the health benefits that breast milk offers.
“Because I breastfeed, I can work,” she told her newly-empowered audience.
The BSP, for the past five years, has recognized the importance of breastfeeding by supporting these kinds of activities and installing two milk banks for nursing employees. Office Order No. 0655 is the icing on the cake that makes everything official and complete.
We hope that this will encourage other organizations to also comply with Breastfeeding Act and inspire working mothers to stand up for their right to give the best nutrition to their infants and young children.