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THE Department of Health (DOH) yesterday assured critics, including the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), that it is not giving away condoms to the public on Valentine’s Day.

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said there will be no repeat of the 2010 activity, when condoms were given to customers of the Dangwa Flower Market in Manila.

“We will continue with our provision of condoms, particularly to the at-risk population. But it is through health centers,” said Ubial.

She said, though, that this does not mean that the DOH is discouraging its non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well as local government units (LGUs) from giving  condoms.

“We will even support those who will be taking advantage of the Valentine’s Day celebration as an opportunity for promoting condom use,” said Ubial.

Back in 2010, the DOH led the distribution of condoms in Dangwa, Manila on Valentine’s Day as part of its campaign versus the spread of HIV/AIDS.

In the   project, those who bought flowers were given coupons, which will enable them to redeem condoms at the DOH booth.

In a related development, the DOH advised the public to celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving heart-friendly gifts and sharing healthy meals.

The DOH said instead of buying an overload of cakes, sweets, and fatty foods, giving a poem, letter, or message may convey more feelings.

Also in buying chocolates, it urged the public to choose dark chocolate with less sugar and caramel as they contain flavonoids, and antioxidants, which are good for the heart.

The DOH also said home cooking would offer healthier food than those from restaurants as they can opt for dinner of tuna, mackerel, bangus, and salmon.

If a restaurant date remains to be the choice, the DOH said couples should consider splitting the meal in two in order to be able to cut their calorie intake.

Finally, the public is encouraged to maintain physical activity by planning an outing or by walking around a park or mall.

“This Valentine’s Day, the public is reminded to choose a heart-healthy gift or practice a healthy lifestyle and diet to keep one healthy,” said Ubial.

For President Duterte, Valentine’s Day is also family day which he will spend in Davao City, special assistant to the President   Christopher “Bong” Go said.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the President will still be in Davao City Tuesday and would spend the day there.

Malacañang  said Duterte had no official engagement on Tuesday.

Ubial said Duterte is very healthy and capable of governing the country.

She said while Duterte has some health concerns, they are not enough to incapacitate him. –  Jocelyn Montemayor

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Base from the 2015 CENSUS of Population: 100,981,437

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