Several municipal government units in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will pursue and sustain the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law and fulfill their mandate to provide quality healthcare to their constituents.
This was the commitment made by local chief executives and Sangguniang Bayan members of various municipalities in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan during the visit of Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development together with partners in the provinces, namely Al-Mujadilah Foundation Inc. (Lanao del Sur), United Youth Philippines-Women (Maguindanao), and Pinay Kilos! (Basilan).
These visits were held in the context of the recently concluded 2019 midterm elections where a new set of local government officials was elected and in light of recently enacted health-related laws, as well as of the issued Executive Order No. 12, which set forth heavy roles on the part of local government units (LGUs) in achieving the country’s sexual and reproductive health (SRH) goals.
The aim of these visits is to support LGUs in strengthening local policies related to sexual and reproductive health that will ensure relevant and effective implementation of SRH programs. This is in recognition of the power of local government units to effect change and to address the SRH needs in their respective communities and recognizes their indispensable role as vital partners in the RH advocacy. Local governments have huge potential to fill in the gaps in the national policy and to achieve its full implementation. This is why it is important to engage them and to help them realize their full potential in terms of policymaking.
During the meetings, PLCPD followed up on the status of the proposed RH-related ordinances filed in their respective local councils, which were the results of a policy development workshop conducted by PLCPD under the ARCHES Project. Fortunately, many of these municipalities were able to pass such ordinance before the end of the term of the previous Sanggunians. They also signified their openness to further collaborations with the ARCHES partner organization in addressing other areas of SRH. Specifically, PLCPD lauds the efforts of the LGUs in the municipalities of Buadipuso-Buntong, Taraka, and Piagapo in Lanao del Sur, of Ampatuan in Maguindanao, and of Maluso in Basilan, among others in adopting the said policy measure.
For those municipalities which were not able to pass the RH-related ordinance, the newly elected officials committed that they will file and pass the ordinance during their term and that they will adopt other necessary measures in prioritizing SRH needs of their constituents.
PLCPD also took this opportunity to discuss the SRH situation in the locality and possible strategies that will contribute to the improvement of the availability of and access to basic SRH services. PLCPD, in this regard, offered its technical assistance in drafting local ordinances in relation to the recently enacted laws and in conducting capacity building activities for the members of the local government and of the community. Furthermore, in the context of the recently concluded elections, it is an opportune moment for advocates to influence the legislative agenda of the local officials and to ensure that they include SRHR of its constituents in its priorities.