January 12, 2017
The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) acknowledges President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) No. 12, with its thrust towards “attaining and sustaining zero unmet family planning need,” as a welcome and significant development in the continuing struggle for RH in the country. For PLCPD, the said order is a decisive step in the right direction consistent with the government’s inclusion of Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law implementation in its 10-point economic agenda and the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.
EO No. 12, issued on 11 January 2017, outlines how the government, through the coordinated actions of government agencies at the national and local levels, intends to accelerate the implementation of the RPRH Law. Said EO reaffirms an important guiding principle of the RPRH – giving Filipinos the full range of choices, most specially couples from disadvantaged sectors, for managing their fertility (including modern family planning methods). EO 12 likewise pushes for providing comprehensive and gender-sensitive sex education in schools, as well as the continued pursuit of poverty-alleviation programs all in line with development objectives.
“We thank the President for his commitment to implement RPRH Law. We hope that through this EO, the law will be more strongly implemented and will benefit Filipinos even in the farthest barangays in the Philippines,” said Ifugao representative Teddy Baguilat, PLCPD Chair for the House of Representatives and one of the proponents of the law in the 15th Congress.
“With this EO on addressing unmet need for family planning, we can be confident that government agencies will be more aligned with the direction that the Executive intends to take as far as RH initiatives are concerned. The challenge now is to ensure that budget for implementation is funded through the GAA [General Appropriations Act], and to address other major barriers to full implementation, including the Supreme Court TRO [Temporary Restraining Order] on select family planning products,” Baguilat added.
PLCPD is optimistic that the issuance of EO 12 will benefit the six million Filipino women who have unmet family planning needs, two million of whom are poor.
“Addressing unmet need for family planning is a big step towards fulfilling Filipinos’ reproductive health and rights as enshrined in the RPRH Law. However, the biggest obstacle to the full implementation of RPRH Law remains to be Supreme Court’s TRO on family planning. We hope that with this very visible show of support by the President, the Supreme Court will finally decide in favor of the Filipinos’ health and rights,” declared PLCPD executive director Romeo Dongeto.
“In implementing the law and this EO, government agencies both at the national level and at local government units must also remember the law’s principles, which are grounded on human rights, women’s rights, and the freedom of informed choice,” Dongeto added.
RPRH Law was enacted in December 2012 after more than one decade of debate in Congress. Four years since its enactment, its implementation has been delayed by challenges including questions on its constitutionality and the Supreme Court’s TRO on certification and public procurement and distribution of select modern family planning products.