Gov’t hopes SC lifts TRO to finally enforce law on responsible parenthood, reproductive health
President Rodrigo Duterte has issued an executive order for further implementation of the modern family planning as the government hopes the Supreme Court will finally lift a temporary restraining order to pave the way for full enforcement of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act
The temporary restraining order, issued in 2015, stops the government from renewing permits to import birth control pills, condoms and other forms of contraceptions.
“The government cannot continue to tolerate this delay in judgment because time is of the essence as far as the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law,” said National Economic Development Authority Director General Ernesto Pernia in a press conference Wednesday.
Juan Antonio Perez, executive director of the Commission on Population, said with the Supreme Court order 15 contraceptives have been out of the market because their certificates of product registration expires. This year, another 15 will expire, added Perez.
“By 2018, there will be only one or two contraceptives left in the market, unless the Supreme Court lifts the TRO,” said Perez. “We are now awaiting for the final decision of the Supreme Court whether they will ask the government to really re-certify all the contraceptives.”
Pernia cited economic implications. "If we just make a back of the envelope calculations, there are so many million women having more children that they want. And they are having at least two children in excess of what they want," he said.
"If you, you know, if you assume that these two unwanted births per woman are taken away, are averted, then naturally poverty will go down. Because, you know, poverty incidence is just a number of poor households or poor population over, you know, the population," Pernia added.
Executive Order No. 12 signed on January 9 aims to attain and sustain "zero unmet need for modern family planning" through strict implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law.
"This Order aims to intensify and accelerate the implementation of critical actions necessary to attain and sustain 'zero unmet need for modern family planning' for all poor households by 2018, and all of Filipinos thereafter, within the context of the RPRH Law and its implementing rules," it said.
The order said couples and women with unmet need for modern family planning are those who are sexually active and want to limit or space their children but are not using any method of contraception.
The order cited the findings of the 2013 Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority at least six million women, two million of them poor, have unmet need fo any modern method of contraception, and remain unable to exercise their reproductive rights.
Pernia blamed the so-called prolife groups on why the government could not implement the law despite its passage in 2012.
"Important provisions of the RPRH law has been stymied by the issuance of a TRO by the Supreme Court and the TRO was issued on the petition of so-called pro-life groups. Pro-life groups meaning that they’re really conservative groups. They 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 said.
Pernia said the contraceptive prevalence rate in the Philippines is only about 40-45 percent against Thailand or Bangladesh, which is about 75 percent.
He said the government needs to increase the contraceptive prevalence rate to around 65 to 70 percent in order to achieve zero unmet need for family planning. Celerina Monte/DMS