MANILA, Jan. 24, 2013—Not even the nation’s president secretly signing into law a heavily opposed measure is stopping the Filipino people from taking concrete steps to fight Republic Act (RA) 10354, or the reproductive health (RH) law, with the latest of a string of petitions against its implementation with the Supreme Court being filed on Tuesday.
The sixth petition was filed by Eduardo B. Olaguer together with Catholic Xybrspace Apostolate of the Philippines (CXAP), seeking to nullify the measure and halt its implementation, citing unconstitutionality of certain provisions.
The RH law mandates the taxpayer-funded purchase and distribution of contraceptives, and ensures the availability of these to Filipinos regardless of civil or marital status, and to youth even before they enter high school. Some of these birth control supplies, such as oral contraceptives and intra-uterine devices (IUDs) have been found to cause early abortion, based on numerous scientific studies.
The petition pointed out two other policies or directives which the law violates besides the 1987 Philippine Constitution, namely Presidential Decree (PD) 603 and Section 2 of RA 10354 itself.
Art. 5 of PD 603 – or The Child and Youth Welfare Code – states, “The civil personality of the child shall commence from the time of his conception, for all purposes favorable to him, subject to the requirements of Article 41 of the Civil Code.”
Sec. 2 of RA 10354, on the other hand, states that “Pursuant to the declaration of State policies under Sec. 12, Art. of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, it is the duty of the State to protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution and equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.”
Named respondents in the petition are Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director Suzette Lazo, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, and Education Secretary Armin Luistro.
“Although petitioners are all Catholics who sincerely adhere to all the dogmatic teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals, all the facts and arguments presented in this petition are based on strictly secular grounds,” stated Olaguer, vice-president and co-founder of CXAP, in the 11-page petition.
The first to file a petition against the coercive measure were lawyers James and Lovely Ann Imbong joined by Catholic School Magnificat Child Development Center, Inc. The husband and wife trooped to the Supreme Court on January 2, less than two weeks after President Benigno Aquino III signed the measure into law.
Other groups that filed petitions to halt the implementation of the population control measure with the Supreme Court are Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc. (ALFI), Task Force for Family and Life Visayas, Inc., and Serve Life CDO, a Cagayan de Oro-based group
A petition for prohibition was reportedly filed by former Vice-President and Senator Teofisto Guingona, Jr. It will be noted that Guingona’s son, Senator Teofisto Guingona III, voted for the passage of the measure in December. (CBCP for Life)