It is said that a law is only as good as its implementation. This is true for Republic Act No. 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law, a landmark legislation that institutionalizes a national policy for reproductive healthcare in the Philippines. The controversial bill finally saw the light of day in December 2012, after languishing for more than a decade in Congress. While the law is considered the single most important political commitment made by the government towards fulfilling Filipinos’ sexual and reproductive health and rights, the real measure of success, its implementation, remains wanting.
Four years since enactment on December 21, 2012, the law has not been without challenge; after its victory in Congress, all branches of government (horizontal) and all levels of governance (vertical) have now become the battleground for RH. Problems in implementation include: inadequate budget, uneven implementation or lack of political will to implement at the local level, and lack of awareness of the law among its beneficiaries. To date, the greatest legal obstacle is the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) on the registration, procurement, and distribution of family planning (FP) products, which—if unresolved—would result in the stock-out of FP products in the Philippines and the elimination of access to family planning by anyone anywhere in the Philippines.
While antagonists to RH may treat the situation as merely a legal battle, the effects of this standoff are all too real. The lives lost to complications of childbirth and pregnancy, the chance at a bright future lost to an early pregnancy, and the opportunity for parents to provide for the needs of their family lost to unplanned births can never be regained.
While commemorating the fourth anniversary of the enactment the law, we call on duty-bearers to step up and ensure that the law is fully implemented.
1. To the executive: intensify government program on FP, make FP accessible for everyone
2. To local government units: invest in FP, pursue implementation of the law
3. To the legislature: exercise oversight in implementation, invest in RH and FP (through budget legislation), fill in policy gaps such as those restricting access of young people to services on RH
4. To the Supreme Court: lift the TRO on family planning.
Eliminate barriers to implementation! Fulfill the promise of RPRH Law!