Geared on building a strong nation through strong families, Iloilo continues to establish spaces for counseling sessions and parenting programs.

The Provincial Population Office (PPO), headed by its chief Ramon Yee, has already established seven Multi-Purpose Counseling and Family Development Centers in different municipalities in the province.

Yee underscored the importance of pre-marriage sessions to couples who wanted to tie the knot.

“Pre-marriage sessions give couples the information and the instructions on responsible parenthood and family planning. Couples who undergone the sessions will build a strong family, strong community, and eventually a strong nation,” Yee said in an interview Friday afternoon.

Present in these centers are television sets & education-information materials needed in the counseling.

“These centers provide conducive counseling because giving information to the couple needs privacy. There are matters that shall be kept confidential,” he said.

During the counseling, he said the couple separately accomplish “marriage expectation inventory”, which will then be compared.

“If their goals vary, they will be enlightened by the counselor,” Yee said.

On Wednesday, the Iloilo provincial government has inaugurated the Multi-Purpose Counseling and Family Development Center in Santa Barbara town.

The center in Santa Barbara is the first to be inaugurated this year, Yee said.

Other centers that were first inaugurated and made operational since 2017 are in the towns of Alimodian, San Miguel, Oton, Cabatuan, Duenas, and Concepcion.

“Our ultimate goal is to establish the same center in all the 43 local government units in the province,” he said.

The commitment from the municipality is important before establishing the centers.

Yee said the local government unit shall first allot a space where a center will be put up.

The Liga ng mga Barangay, meanwhile, is responsible for disseminating to locals in the villages the significance of pre-marriage counseling.

“They will disseminate the program and encourage locals to have pre-marriage counseling or otherwise they will not be issued with marriage license,” he said.

Remaining municipalities that are still without the centers conduct pre-marriage counseling in free spaces in the municipal hall, such as session halls and conference rooms.

Yee, however, said the Multi-Purpose Counselling and Family Development Centers alone cannot provide successful pre-marriage counseling.

He said the pre-marriage counselors composed of officials from the offices of population, social welfare and development, and health should also be equipped with proper knowledge. With this, he assured that the pre-marriage counseling teams will undergo training.

“A good multi-purpose counseling centers with capable, ready, and enhanced pre-marriage counselors make effective counseling,” he said.

Yee said the municipalities of Anilao and Pototan also want to open the next counseling centers in the province. (PNA)