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SC: No pending TRO vs contraceptives, RH law implementation

There is no pending temporary restraining order that stops the government from fully implementing Republic Act 10354 also known as the Reproductive Health (RH) law, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said in a statement released July 27. She added that the’re also no injunction prohibiting the Department of Health from procuring and distributing contraceptives.

“What has been issued was a TRO against two specific contraceptives regulated under the RH law. It pertains to two implants – Implanon and Implanon NXT,” Sereno said, reiterating that all other contraceptives are not covered by the restraining order.

This is response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s remark during his second State of the Nation Address that the Supreme Court is becoming a “bane” in his government’s drive to efficiently implement the RH law.  He cited as an example the fact that as much as P360 million of government-purchased contraceptives are now in danger of going to waste if they reach their expiration date before the TRO is settled.

RH law implementation

The Supreme Court clarified that there’s no stopping the government from fully implementing the RH law (Photo credits: www.popcom.gov.ph)

“It was not really a reckless purchase. It was in preparation for the implementation of the law,” the President said, seemingly trying to speak directly to Sereno who was in attendance during the event. “I am not for abortion. I am not for birth control. But certainly I am for the giving of the freedom to the Filipino family to decide the size [of your family],” he added.

Sereno pointed out that the TRO on the two implants can be lifted soon if only the Food and Drug Administration will do its part. “The TRO has a sunset provision, and as soon as the FDA certifies that they (Implanon and Implanon NXT) are not an abortifacent, the TRO is lifted,” she explained.

Sereno together with her fellow magistrates unanimously declared the RH law  as constitutional in April 2014, although they struck down several provisions of it.

Meanwhile, the advocacy group Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) hailed Duterte’s unequivocal support for the full implementation of the RH law. “We hope that this will send a strong signal and direction to (RH law) implementers – from the national government to LGUs – of the President’s commitment to ensure the law’s implementation and to remove barriers to it,” PLCPD said in a statement sent to The Filipino Scribe.

The organization also expressed optimism that Duterte’s call to action during his second SONA will be the catalyst needed to end the impasse in public procurement and distribution of long-acting family planning methods.

“We are confident that the FDA and DOH will be able to meet the requirements set by the SC to ensure due process in certifying products so that the TRO will be deemed lifted, ” the group added.

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