15- to 49-year old working mothers, wives and ladies among 14M, affected by Philippine RH Law non-implementation
By MARC GUERRERO
PHILIPPINE bills passed by Congress and Senate and signed by the President into law do not automatically execute itself for the best interest of its citizens.
I covered the House of Representatives and learned that a few laws passed, specially if funds for such laws are not readily available for some reasons, remained in effect, but in letters only (signed, recorded and archived) and not in the full spirit of the law. People cannot expect those laws to have more and stronger teeth to, as legislators always declared during the administration of President Ramon Magsaysay [xxxx-xxxx], “to protect those who have less in life.”
Majority of working women from among the 14 million identified by the Population Commission (PopCom) is badly affected by the non-implementation of the Philippine Reproductive Health (RH) Law.
PopCom told CPM News Asia, “During the past four years after the RH bill was signed into law, about one year had lapsed for its full (effective and efficient) implementation.”
Budget issues are a flimsy excuses for the full execution of the law in the 21st century (or circa-21).
I used to do market communication for Friendly-Care Foundation in the 1990s. It is a US Agency for International Development (USAID) program that kept watch over population explosion by and through a massive campaign to use contraceptive technologies. Nearly a dozen McDo-type Friendly-Care clinics across The Philippines that offered contraceptive technologies were funded by USAID, initially, with PhP500 million resources, annually. When America shifted its focus to anti-terrorism, and population funds were slashed, Friendly-Care made do with operations budget that went down to P50 million. We do not hear much about the fancy-looking clinics nowadays.
THE “Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (Republic Act No10354),” informally known as the Reproductive Health Law or RH Law, guarantees universal access to methods of contraception, fertility control, sexual education, and maternal care, according to Wikipedia.
While there is general agreement about its provisions on maternal and child health, there is great debate on its mandate that the Philippine government and the private sector will fund and undertake widespread distribution of family planning devices such as condoms, birth control pills, and IUDs, as the government continues to disseminate information on their use through all health care centers.
Passage of the legislation was controversial and highly divisive, with experts, academics, religious institutions, and major political figures declaring their support or opposition while it was pending in the legislature. Heated debates and rallies both supporting and opposing the RH Bill took place nationwide.
The Supreme Court delayed implementation of the law in March 2013 in response to challenges. On April 8, 2014, the Court ruled that the law was “not unconstitutional” but struck down eight provisions partially or in full.
Working mothers, wives, sisters and ladies of ages 15 to 49 years old, specially those belonging to lower- to middle- to upper-middle economic classes of the society, from among the 14 million identified by PopCom, may get sick, worsen their impoverished plight or die because free family planning services are not readily available to them.
ON the 10th of October, 2016, reproductive health advocates led by the Department of Health (DOH), the Philippine Center for Population and Development, and community women went to the Supreme Court to question its decision that restricted the country’s family planning program, effectively limiting the full implementation of RH Law.
DOH led the filing of motion for reconsideration (MR) of the SC temporary restraining order (TRO) on the RH Law. Before the MR filing, JR Santiago and DOH Assistant Secretary Dr Eric Tayag, PopCom executive director Dr Juan Antonio (dok Jeepy) A Perez III, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) executive director Nela Charade Puno, DOH secretary, Dr Pauline Ubial, and Forum for Family Planning and Development executive director Ben de Leon, posed with the ala-Duterte punch to drive home their points of view regarding RH.
DR JEEPY Perez of PopCom is true to form. His agency is strongly supporting the DOH move in the highest court.
Dok Jeepy was described by his colleagues as always “walking the talk.”
A son of the original Manila Times publisher (second to the journalism elder statesman Chino Roces), dok Jeepy – a typical doctor to the barrio (specially during the heydays of the late Juan Flavier, a health statesman) – told this author during our younger days that “he did not take up Medicine in order to amass wealth.”
Any Juan or Juana or Juanito and Juanita can easily approach dok Jeepy for check up at any given time anywhere he went.
He never asked for any doctor’s fee of fifty pesos to PhP300.00 to P500.00 and more from his patients. It is gratis et amore, for the love of the physician’s passion for healing people.
I remember dok Jeepy recalling how ordinary barrio folk who cannot pay any money just shower their favourite barrio doctor with their produce (eggs, chickens, vegetables, fruits, fish and seafood) as their tokens of thanks, appreciation and gratitude.
These days (circa-21), young interns take up MD and specialize in aesthetic medicine and similar hot courses in medicine schools “to become millionaires,” if they are not yet.
Dok Jeepy used to be a leader of SDK or Samahang Demokratikong Kabataan (Democratic youth organization) during the 1970s activism era. He still serves his fallen comrades in more proactive healthier ways than one. His foot is always in his mouth. Nice to see him again on the streets. CPM