An ABS CBN REPORTER have reached out to us last night asking my opinion regarding the possibility of regulating Traditional and Alternative Medicine and its practitioners in our country and I graced him with my opinion early this morning.
I check out his network station website and I found an article written by Katrina Domingo with an Headline that says:
License for albularyos? Senate bills seek regulating traditional, alternative medicine
In her article it mention that there are 2 Philippine Senators that seeks to amend and update the Philippine Traditional Medicine Act of 1997 or Republic Act 8423 and they are Senator Emmanuel D. Pacquiao, Author of Senate Bill 1308 and Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., Author of Senate Bill 2127.
In the Explanatory Note of Sen. Pacquaio, the SB 1308 aims to create a firmer government regulations in the practice of Traditional and Altenative Medicine by revisiting the Traditional Alternative Medicine Acts of 1997 or in short, the Good Senator want to revised the Republic Act 8423 or Philippine Traditional Alternative Medicine Act of 1997.
In this bill under section 1 of the Definition of Terms, the Good senator has defined Alternative Health Care Modalities as:
“Other forms of non- allopathic, occasionally non-indigenous or imported healing methods, though not necessary practiced for centuries nor handed down from one generation to another. [ Some alternative health care modalities include], WHICH SHALL INCLUDE BUT NOT LIMITED TO, reflexology, ACUPUNCTURE, MASSAGE, acupressure, chiropractic, nutritional therapy, HILOT, NATUROPATHY, HOMEOPATHY/HOMOTOXICOLOGY, TUINA MASSAGE, OSTEOPATHY, ANTHROPOSOPIC MEDICINE and other similar [methods] MODALITIES.”Senate Bill 1308 Explanatory note of Sen. Manny Pacquiao
In this clause, the Good Senator has categorized Hilot as an Alternative Health Care Modality whereas Hilot is not part of Alternative Medicine but instead it should be defined as our Traditional Medicine in the Philippines.
The Bill must also provide a clear definition between Alternative, Allopathic, Conventional, Complementary, Indigenous, Integrative and Natural Medicine; as all of these terminologies may be different from one another.
And going back to the explanatory note of Sen. Pacquiao that says:
“traditional and alternative health care, as defined in R.A. 8423, is “any knowledge, skill and practice, other than those in the biomedicine, which is used in the prevention, diagnosis and elimination of physical or mental disorder.” As listed in the Philippine Standard Occupational Classification (PSOC), associate professional of traditional and complementary medicines include drugless treatment healer, bonesetter, faith healer, healer of indigenous people (i.e. Mansi-bok, Mansip-ok), herbalist, scraping and cupping therapist, village healer, witch doctor, and acupressure therapist. On the other hand, traditional and complementary medicine professionals include acupuncturist, ayuverdic practitioner, Chinese herbal medicine practitioner, homeopath, hydrotherapist, naturopath and unani practitioner.”Sen. Manny Pacquaio
Are those Modalities mentioned in the Senator’s explanatory note are the modalities being prescribed to have licensure in accordance to section 2 of this bill in paragraph k? It is said that as listed in the Philippine Standard Occupational Classification, that the associate professional of traditional and complementary medicine includes Faith Healer and Witch Doctor. So will that mean that Faith Healer and Witch Doctors in the Philippines must be a licensed professional before they could perform Faith Healing?
What about the Religious Groups such as the Charismatic Movement who does laying of hands and Faith Healing? What about the Union Espiritista? Jesus Miracle Crusade? Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association? And also Luntiang Aghama Natural Divine Arts Shrine of Healing Inc? Do we need to have a license or permit from Pitahc before we can heal people who come into our shrine?
What about our Constitutional Right that says in Article 3 Section 5 in the Philippine Constitution that says:
“No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.”1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines
And the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations has said in Article 18 that says:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Now if this is true, why when I wrote an Email to Pitahc, they did not consider my request to have an Audience with the Director General in presenting the Hilot what we are teaching in the Academy that includes the practice of Tawas which is our traditional spiritual diagnostic method. Which their only response is this:
Mahal na Rev. Comon,
Isang mainit napagbati sa ngalan ng aming Director General, Dr. Annabelle Pabiona De Guzman. Salamat sa inyong ibinahagi tungkol sa ginagawa ninyong katutubong gamutan katulad ng hilot babaylan.
Tungkol naman sa ginagawa ninyong pagsasaliksik sa kaalaman sa pagtatawas, halamang gamot at pagpapahid (masahe) ay aming ipinagbibigay alam na ang pwede gawan ng pananaliksik ay mga halamang gamot at paghihilot.
Ipagbibigay alam ko sa kinauukulan kung pwede kayo mabigyan ng oras at araw para maipakita ninyo sa amin ang paraan ng inyong pag gagamot.
Standard and Accreditation Division
Though in their response, they do not specifically mention Tawas but only mention that the only allowable to conduct research is about Halamang Gamot and Hilot (pahid).
In PITAHC website which is PITACH.GOV.PH /GLOSSARY-OF-TERMS, they have defined Hilot as this:
The Science and art of the ancient Filipino Healing Tradition grounded on the principle of balance of the physical elements, together with the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the person with the use of manipulation for the prevention of disease and for the restoration and maintenance of health and well-being. It includes the use of medicinal plants and bulong/orasyon.
Though in the part of defining Traditional Medicine on the same page, they have written:
Traditional Medicine is the Sum Total of the knowledge, skill, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness.
Here we could see that the Institute has difficulty of defining Hilot as Philippine Traditional Medicine as it only defines it as Filipino Healing Tradition and does not clearly define it as Philippine Traditional Medicine; as the role of Hilot of Treatment of Physical and Mental Illness has been omitted in the Glossary of terms in Hilot, whereas the word Traditional Medicine is applied to the Traditional Oriental Medicine:
Senate Bill 2127 filled by Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr.
Summary to the Explanatory Note
In his explanatory note, the good senator have noticed that many have taken interest into alternative modalities in searching for cure for their ailments as well as there are various universities that offers degree and graduate program that offers traditional and complementary medicine. In this bill he proposed to update the Traditional Alternative Medicine Act of 1997 to respond to the growing awareness and consumption of alternative care system by empowering the Philippine Institute of Traditional Alternative Health Care.
Through this Bill, we find the same clause that defines Hilot under the category of Alternative Health Care Modalities which can be found on Section 1.d. ; and on paragraph K, they have merge the term Traditional Medicine to Complementary Medicine. Whereas in paragraph J, it defines complementary medicine as:
– A BROAD SET OF HEALTH CARE PRACTICES THAT ARE NOT PART OF THE COUNTRY’S OWN TRADITIONAL OR CONVENTIONAL MEDICINE AND ARE NOT FULLY INTEGRATED INTO THE DOMINANT HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. IT SHALL BE USED INTERCHANGEABLY WITH THE TERM ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE.
Through this I want to reiterate that:
“HILOT IS THE PHILIPPINE TRADITIONAL MEDICINE. IT IS THE MEDICINE USED BY OUR ANCESTORS PRIOR TO THE ARRIVAL OF THE SPANISH COLONIZER AND INTRODUCTION OF MODERN MEDICINE IN OUR LAND. HILOT CAN NOT BECOME A COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE AS PER DEFINITION OF THIS BILL THAT STATES THAT COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE IS A BROAD SET OF HEALTH CARE PRACTICES THAT ARE NOT PART OF THE COUNTRY’S OWN TRADITIONAL OR CONVENTIONAL MEDICINE!!!”
My argument might be ignored and considered just a terminology. But if we are going to define something through the law it is something very important for the people of our future. We can not teach and apply law that is misleading and not true. So it is important that the law makes will give clear definition of Hilot as our very own Traditional Medicine. It does not come somewhere else. It originates in our Country.
With regards to Section 7 of the proposed Bill it says:
SPECIAL RULES AND EXEMPTIONS. –
RECOGNIZING THE UNIQUE MANNER OF OBTAINING THE KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS OF TRADITIONAL MEDICINE, IT BEING HANDED DOWN FROM ONE GENERATION TO ANOTHER WITHOUT THE INFLUENCE OF FORMAL EDUCATION OR TRAINING, PRACTITIONERS BELONGING TO THIS CATEGORY SHALL BE EXEMPT FROM THE STANDARD EXAMINATION REQUIRED BY THIS ACT.
NONETHELESS, THEY ARE STILL MANDATED TO ACQUIRE THE NECESSARY GRANT OF AUTHORITY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE GUIDELINES TO BE PRESCRIBED BY PITAHC.
IT SHALL BE NECESSARY FOR TRADITIONAL PRACTITIONERS TO ESTABLISH THE LENGTH OF TIME FOR WHICH THEY HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO HAVE PRACTICED TRADITIONAL MEDICINE AND PROVE THAT, IN THE COURSE OF THEIR PRACTICE, NO RELATED COMPLAINT, WHETHER REPORTED OR NOT, WAS MADE AGAINST THEM.
FURTHER, SHOULD THEY OFFER, WHETHER FORA FEE OR NOT, OR USE AS A MODALITY, HEALTH PRODUCTS, PRACTITIONERS MUST SEEK FOR THE APPROVAL OF THE SAME.
Not all Formal Education are regulated by any government agency, such as Religious Seminary and Institution that teach Spiritual Healing and Laying of Hands to the Sick; There is also an Islamic Medicine which is known also as a Prophetic Medicine; and we as religious institution do practice Spiritual Healing., so as the Union Espiritista and Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association that do Spiritual Healing with the use of Bulong and Orasyon.
For the reference of the mentioned Bill, check below.