by Genalyn D. Kabiling
Buoyed by the support of the United Nations (UN), the government is determined to forge a “stronger collaboration” with the private sector on intensifying public access to family planning services.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the government appreciates the UN recognition of President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 12 on the full implementation of the reproductive health program.
“The signing of the Executive Order on Reproductive Health reflects the President’s stance on the issue and shows his strong position on the importance of the implementation of Reproductive Health.”
“We hope that with this order, we will have stronger collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector, and international bodies like The United Nations Population Fund, to implement quality modern family planning information and services,” he added.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) earlier lauded President Duterte’s order strengthening the reproductive health program which will contribute to the Philippines’ resolve to attain 2030 sustainable development goals.
ZERO UNMET NEED
The President earlier issued EO 12 (Attaining and Sustaining Zero Unmet Need for Modern Family Planning Services through the Strict Implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, Providing Funds Therefore and for Other Purposes) that will enable couples to make an informed choice on how to plan their families. The order aims to attain the “zero unmet need for modern family planning” for all poor households by 2018. Apart from the overall goal to help reduce poverty, it aims to lower maternal mortality rate and teenage pregnancy.
“We thank the Filipino people for supporting that and also for the United Nations for recognizing the efforts of the President,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said over state-owned radio DZRB.
Abella said implementing the RH program is not popular with some sectors but the President decided to push for the vital policy “to serve the interest of the whole nation.”
Abella, likewise appealed to groups opposing the government’s reproductive health program to have “a broader and more open mind, not one that is pure, coming from ideology.”
“Perhaps, the way of thinking of certain sectors in society must evolve to become more open and understand the condition of the people,” he added.
Abella said he does not mean to belittle a person’s faith but “we need to be able to be more responsible even with our faith.”
“As they say, we also need to put food on our family’s table,” he added.
Meanwhile, RH advocate and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman scored Supreme Court (SC) Spokesman Theodore Te for denying that the High Court derailed the implementation of the Reproductive Health law.
Lagman, who was among the authors of the RH law, admitted that the SC did not issue a direct injunction stopping the implementation of the controversial law.
However, he insisted that the court has “pierced the heart and soul” of the law when it issued an order that made “the certification, procurement and access to contraceptives more difficult and cumbersome.”
“Central to the RH Law is the informed choice accorded to women of reproductive age to determine the number and spacing of their children by voluntarily using modern, effective and safe contraceptives as a method of family planning,” Lagman said in a statement.
The opposition lawmaker insisted that the SC prevented the enforcement of the RH law “so much so that by 2018 contraceptive supplies are expected to dry up.”
Te assured pro-RH advocates that the government can now implement the RH law although the High Court had sustained the temporary restraining order issued on the acquisition by the DOH and distribution of contraceptive products IMplanon and Implanon NXT to the public.
The SC official stressed that the TRO did not cover the implementation of the RH law but merely referred to the distribution of the controversial contraceptive implants, described by pro-Life groups as abortifacient. (With a report from Ben R. Rosario)
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