RH Law advocates aim for 1M petition signatures for lifting of TRO on contraceptive implants

The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) is gathering one million signatures to convince Supreme Court justices to stop hampering the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law, its executive director Rom Dongeto said on Tue, Nov 8.

In an interview with the media, Dongeto said they launched the campaign last Nov. 4 to gather one million signatures until April next year to urge the High Court to lift the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) it issued for two brands of contraceptive implants.

According to him, the TRO prevents the Department of Health (DOH) and its agencies from going full blast on their family planning program.

He noted that the TRO was based on a petition of anti-RH law groups alleging that all contraceptives are abortifacient.

“The same group aims to have these vital commodities totally banned from the market,” he said, adding that with the TRO, a lot of contraceptives may expire by next year.

The signatures will be presented to President Rodrigo Duterte, he said, hoping that the President would help convince the SC justices to lift the TRO.

“The President had made his position very clear (during his first State of the Nation Address) that he wants RH to be fully implemented… We hope SC will listen and let RH be implemented fully,” Dongeto said.

He also recalled that part of the President’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda is the implementation of the RH Law or Republic Act No. 10354.

Just a month ago, Solicitor General Jose Calida, together with Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials and RH advocates, filed a motion to lift the TRO.

Dongeto said the TRO affects 13.4 million Filipino women, 6.1 million of whom are using contraceptives, while the remaining 7.3 million have family planning needs that are not met.

He explained that with the TRO, no new registration for contraceptives could be approved by the FDA, or if approved, they can be appealed. New legal cases can also ensue, resulting in more delays as questions on abortifacient issues continue. Stocks will thus run out and contraceptives will no longer be available in the market, such that even those with money could not longer buy contraceptives.

Another worst scenario, he said, is that the country’s teen pregnancy rates, already one of the worst in the world, will further worsen.

“The future of more of our young people will be jeopardized,” he said, estimating that this year, some 281,170 teenage girls will get pregnant.

He warned that the numbers will soar further without contraceptives.

Lack of contraceptives can also increase the mortality rate of women from preventable pregnancy and childbirth-related complications because they could possibly resort to more dangerous ways of preventing unplanned pregnancies. As a result, more children would be orphaned.

Dongeto argued that women prefer the implants put under TRO , saying they were actually happy that they found something that could help them plan their life and their future.

The implant can delay pregnancy for up to two years through the match-like sticks inserted through the arm.

The RH Law was enacted by legislators in 2012, with support from then president Benigno Aquino III. The TRO was issued in June 2015.

According to Population Commission executive director, Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III, many of the contraceptives requiring FDA recertification have been in the market for many years.

“We believe these products have been in place for almost 50 years and there has been no problem,” Perez said. Philippine News Agency (PNA)

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