President Duterte sidestepped a Supreme Court (SC) obstacle that bars the full implementation of the controversial reproductive health (RH) law by signing an Executive Order that pushes for its “strict implementation.”
In press conference in Malacañang, National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) director general and Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia trumpeted yesterday EO 12 that seeks to “attain and sustain (the) zero unmet need for family planning” which also intends to “pressure” the SC from the delaying the full implementation of Republic Act no. 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.
Despite being passed into law back in 2012 and surviving a temporary restraining order (TRO) in 2014, the provision on distributing contraceptive materials (such as condoms) of the so-called called RH law remains on a temporary restraining order (TRO).
“The EO intends to motivate, to urge, to even pressure the Supreme Court, to stop dilly-dallying on this TRO. A year and a half is too long a wait. I don’t know why the Supreme Court cannot act more swiftly,” Pernia told reporters.
“Important provisions of the RH law has been stymied by the issuance of a TRO by the Supreme Court,” he added.
The TRO was issued by the SC due to the contentions made by the RH laws’ consistent nemesis, the Catholic Church and certain “pro-life” groups which the Neda chief disregarded as “a noisy small minority.”
“A simple matter and, in fact, it has already been declared not unconstitutional and yet you listen to this small minority, small noisy minority. it’s really a tyranny of the minority what’s happening here. This small noisy minority is being listened to vis-à-vis the majority who want the RH law,” Pernia said, citing previous surveys reporting that “70 to 80 percent of adult want the RH law.”
The Duterte administration’s chief economist also responded to “pro-life” groups’ claim that contraceptives are allegedly abortion materials.
“Pro-life groups keep saying that contraception or family planning or the reproductive health law is abortifacient, it’s anti-life. But, of course, we in the government, we think differently, just the opposite. We feel that it is pro-life, pro-women, pro-children, and pro-economic development,” he claimed.
EO no. 12 is not necessarily intended to provide what’s being tied up by the High Court’s order, but it mandates related agencies — such as the Department of Health (DoH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), local government units, etc. — to “engage, collaborate and partner with civil society organizations and the private sector in attaining zero unmet need” by ensuring “the provision of quality modern family planning information and services”.
The EO defined “unmet” as “couples and women who are fecund and sexually active and want to limit or space their children but are not using any modern method of contraception.”