FPOP has stood the test of time as the longest running and biggest family planning association in the Philippines. While surmounting all odds in the midst of a strong anti-choice lobby group in the country, FPOP has also wrestled internally to strengthen its mooring to be more effective in championing sexual and reproductive health and rights in the country.
Optimism over the promise of RH law became stronger when the law was declared not unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2012. However, opponents of the RH law are relentless in challenging its mandate. They succeeded in having the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) hindering the full implementation of family planning programs through restrictions in public procurement and distribution of select family planning supplies.
6.1 million Filipinas are presently using contraceptives, and another 7.3 million have unmet needs for family planning. This TRO will then deprive 13.4 million Filipino women the means to avoid unplanned pregnancies and associated health risks. As the TRO remains in force, a situation will happen where no FP supplies will be available in the market when the product certification of all the existing contraceptive supplies will expire in 2018. All Filipinos, with no discrimination, will have no access to contraceptives – denying them of their fundamental right to health.
Mounting a nationwide campaign to fight this anomaly in national policy is a big battle for FPOP to wage. But at the moment the organization is limping. Internally it is facing an equally serious problem on sustainability. Financial obligations of non-viable clinics are passed on to the national office. Our failure to settle our financial obligations stemmed from the fact that the funding assistance from IPPF gradually reduced year by year. In 2016, a 25% reduction was made compared to the funding assistance in 2015.
To confront this internal challenge, the National Executive Committee, together with the Acting ED, embarked into serious implementation of the approved Rationalization Plan of 2016. As indicated in the plan, practical strategies were pursued that will facilitate the re-engineering of the organization to be able to move forward.
These are the practical strategies in the Rationalization Program and their implementation:
- Adoption of a temporary skeletal structure at the national office and utilize the savings from personnel costs to help settle payables for unpaid salaries and separation benefits of retrenched personnel. From 20 personnel in 2015, the national office is now operating with only 11 personnel who are on multi-tasking capacity. The adoption of the skeletal structure resulted to a net savings of around P150,000. per month.
- Immediate settlement of unpaid rentals, back wages and retirement benefits of FPOP personnel. In 2016, the National Office was able to appropriate around P3M for separation fees of retrenched personnel at the national and chapter levels, as well as settlement of back wages and retirement claims of retired staff. This money came from the management fees of special projects initiated by the national office and the savings on personnel cost after the adoption of the skeletal structure at the national office.
- Aggressive submission of project proposals to earn from management fees while boosting program implementation. The National Office was able to facilitate the approval of at least Seven short-term special project, generating a total grant funding of US$ 112,000.00 (Php5,483,100.) for 2016 alone. The management fees when these project was implemented amounted to Php 270,000.
- Continue the thrust towards social enterprise building through the establishment of Phil- Health accredited FPOP clinics and the closure of non-viable and non-performing clinics. As of the second quarter of 2016, FPOP is having 14 sustainable Chapters, operating a total of 17 community health care clinics throughout the country. The three chapters of Metro Manila, CamSur and SOCSARGEN are having extension clinics. The clinics that were temporarily closed in early 2016 are: 1. Isabela, 2. Tarlac, 3. Tanauan, 4. Cebu, and 5. Samar. Out of the existing 17 FPOP clinics, there are 4 clinics which are currently accredited under the Philhealth program. It is worth mentioning that, undeniably to have PhilHealth accreditation means a clinic becomes sustainable with surplus income. There are, however, other FPOP clinics who developed unconventional ways of striving to become sustainable other than getting PhilHealth accreditation. These are the clinics who established partnership in various capacities with public or private health facilities, institutions, and LGUs
- Revisiting the idea of liquidating the FPOP National Office property, either through joint-venture or direct selling and utilize the proceeds to settle the financial obligations of the organization, invest in social enterprises for chapters and national office, and establish another real estate property for training center. In November 2014, the Governing Council of IPPF approved the Federation’s global Strategic Framework for 2016-2022. The new framework identified the establishment of Social Enterprise or SE as a strategy to sustain service delivery and as a means for resource mobilization to support programs promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights. This call to action by IPPF for its member associations to embark into social enterprise building has become more urgent in the face of the shifting priorities made by donor agencies/ countries resulting to the dwindling funding assistance to MAs.
Way forward through Social Enterprise
For FPOP, given the reality that it cannot be dependent forever to IPPF, it has become clearer that there is no other way forward but to adopt the Social Enterprise framework to survive and remain relevant to its target clients. Using the Social Enterprise framework within the FPOP context means, clinics have to be accredited with PhilHealth. This is clearly shown by the examples of the 4 FPOP clinics with PhilHealth accreditation which are now enjoying surplus income in their operations.
It may takes some time for all of the strategies in the FPOP Rationalization Program to be fully implemented. But in the course of its implementation, one thing is sure. FPOP will end up more resilient amidst changing times as it turns 50 in 2019.