read the latest newscodewatch: meet the code-breakersread the latest Boycott news, and join the Nestlé boycottjoin Baby Milk Actionvisit the Resource Centresearch our growing databaselinks to breastfeeding resourcescontact Baby Milk Action

Philippines infant health advocates march to the Supreme Court with bottle baby victim

Press release 6 December 2006 - pictures

Baby Milk Action has launched a campaign of international solidarity with the Philippines where baby food marketing regulations are under attack by the baby food industry. Click here for details and media updates.

On 6 December representatives of the coalition People of the Philippines to Protect Breastfeeding marched to the Supreme Court to present a petition in support of the regulations introduced by the Ministry of Health. The regulations are being challenged in the Supreme Court by Swiss and US baby food companies (Nestlé is not part of the legal action, but has opposed key provisions of the regulations - see below). The Court suspended the regulations four days after the US Chamber of Commerce wrote to the President of the Philippines asking her to intervene, reversing an earlier decision.

Campaigners took with them a 9 month old child whose health had suffered as a result of aggressive marketing persuading the mother to use infant formula. According to the World Health Organisation, 16,000 babies die in the Philippines every year because of inappropriate feeding.

On the same day the coalition made their submission the government lawyer defending the regulations was assassinated. The Solicitor General has said the killing may be linked to this case, though the murdered lawyer was also involved in other cases challenged powerful vested interests. Click here for information.

Click on pictures for high resolution versions. All copyright IBFAN/ARUGAAN 2006. They may be used to publicise this issue if a link or copy of the publication is sent to Baby Milk Action.

Supreme Court march
Supreme Court march - the coalition

Supreme Court march - mother country mime artist

One of the protestors represented the 'Mother Country', exploited by the baby food companies to generate Peso 22 billion sales. While the companies count their profits, others are left to count the suffering caused by aggressive marketing.

Supreme Court - bottle baby victim

On the right, Miguel and mother, Gloria.

Supreme Court


The regulations suspended by the legal action prohibit the promotion of products for children up to two years of age. The industry, including Nestlé (which is not party to the court case) has argued this is too far. Nestlé says it supports a prohibition on promotion of products for children up to 1 year of age.

The Ministry of Health actions are driven by the reality of marketing. Companies use advertising ostensibly for milks for older babies to promote the range with idealizing claims.

For example, claiming parents who 'want only the best' for their children give Wyeth (SMA) Progress formula so they become 'Advanced Achievers'.

This type of advertising was prohibited by the regulations that have been suspended by the Supreme Court. See the images below from a November 2006 parenting magazine.

Click on images for larger versions.

Philippines magazine
Wyeth Progress Advance Achiever

Baby Milk Action has exposed in the past how Nestlé promotes its Nido whole milk as a de facto breastmilk substitute, despite knowing that poor mothers sometimes use it than more expensive infant formula. Nestlé refuses to stop these practices, arguing as Nido is a whole milk no marketing restrictions apply. Hence it has been found on the shelves next to the formula in the infant feeding sections of pharmacies and supermarkets.

In some countries it is required to give a clear warning that the product should not be used for feeding infants under a certain age. In the Philippines, however, it promotes Nido as follows: "For me there's only one milk for all my kids. No matter what the age, I give them NIDO fortified full cream milk. It's complete to support the 10 Signs of Good Nutrition. Now that's what I call perfect!"

Nido advertisement 01

Nestlé Nido ad. Philippines

Nestlé re-enforces the idea that Nido can be used for all children:

"No matter what age, give all your children one milk - NIDO Fortified."

A study in one town in Brazil found that amongst poor mothers, 70% of those feeding their infants with powdered milk were using powdered whole milk rather than infant formula, which can cost three times the price. Click here for more examples of Nestlé irresponsible promotion of whole milks.

Notes for editors

Footage of interviews conducted in the Philippines in 2003 is available on the German Panorama website (click the image to view online).

German Panorama TV programme 2003
  1. The International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) consists of over 200 groups in more than 100 countries. IBFAN groups work for the implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions and monitor company practices against these. Nestlé is found to be the worst of the companies and so the target of an international consumer boycott.

  2. The campaign to defend the Philippines regulations was initiated by ARUGGAN, the Philippines member of IBFAN. The organisation has been conducting imaginative campaigns such as gathering over 1,000 women with decorated umbrellas in Manila (click here for pictures).

  3. Baby Milk Action is a not-for-profit organisation and the UK member of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN). It is funded by membership fees, merchandise sales and donations, along with grants from development organisations and charitable trusts.

  4. For information on baby food marketing malpractice see the codewatch and boycott sections of this website.

  5. Endorsements for the petition of solidarity have been received from over 350 individuals and organisations from around the world including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, United States and United Kingdom.

  6. Organisations include:

    • Baby Milk Action;
    • IBFAN Europe (representing 58 groups in 35 countries, including Baby Milk Action);
    • INFACT Canada;
    • IBFAN Italy;
    • The Italian Nestlé Boycott Network;
    • NAFIA, the Nordic Work Group for International Breastfeeding Issues;
    • Australian Lactation Consultants Association;
    • National Childbirth Trust, UK
    • The Breastfeeding Network, UK
    • Oxfam GB
    • Infant Feeding Association of New Zealand;
    • Associazione Culturale Pediatri;
    • Italy (Paediatric Cultural Association);
    • Peoples Health Movement, USA;
    • KASAPI HELLAS (Greek organisation of Filipino migrants);
    • Sumisibol (US-Philippines teen cultural exchange organisation);
    • Philippine Solidarity Group Netherlands;
    • Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto (Federal University of Ouro Preto, Brazil);
    • Movimento amigos do circuito das äguas Mineiro (Movement of Friends of the Waters of Minas Gerais, Brazil);
    • The University Of Sheffield Union Of Students;
    • Churchties Vlaardingen-La Granja/Bacolod, Netherlands.

ARUGAAN mobilises a thousand mothers

ARUGGAN has been conducting imaginative campaigns in defence of the new Regulations. See This begins: "More than a thousand breastfeeding mothers together with civic organizations unite to protect breastfeeding through a forum and a colorful public display of a thousand slogan umbrellas at the Risen Garden, Quezon City Hall. The slogans, written in English, Filipino and local dialects, embodied the voice and sentiments of the mothers in light of the Supreme Court's recent decision to temporarily suspend the implementation of the Executive Order 51 or the Philippine Milk Code. The code aims to protect mothers and infants through promoting breastfeeding and regulating advertisements of breastmilk substitutes."

Philippines umbrellas

Philippines umbrellas

Philippines umbrella slogans

Click for large versions. Photo credit: ARUGAAN (IBFAN Philippines), 2006.

Related documents

press index