SC defers anew ruling on RH implementation

By Edu Punay and Arnell Ozaeta, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 24 2013 07:27 AM | Updated as of Jan 24 2013 08:57 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has again deferred ruling on the various petitions seeking to stop the implementation of the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) law.

In a full-court session last Tuesday, the justices of the high court opted not to resolve just yet the prayer for temporary restraining order filed earlier by four groups.

Instead, the high tribunal directed the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to first answer two new petitions filed by lawyer Expedito Bugarin and Eduardo Olaguer, of the Catholic Xybrspace Apostolate of the Philippines.

The OSG, which represents Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa Jr., Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, is now required to submit a comment on six petitions filed against the RH law.

Four earlier petitions were filed by James and Lovely-Ann Imbong, and non-profit groups Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc. (ALFI), Serve Life Cagayan de Oro City, and Task Force for Family and Life Visayas Inc.

The OSG was given 10 days from receipt of notice to comply with the order.

The case was assigned to Associate Justice Jose Mendoza, said to be a devout Catholic belonging to archdiocese of Lipa City in Batangas. His two brothers are priests, while another is a parish assistant.

The petitioners argued that the RH law “negates and frustrates the foundational ideals and aspirations of the sovereign Filipino people as enshrined in the Constitution.”

They cited Article II, Section 12 of the Constitution, which states: “The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of Government.”

Petitioners said at least 11 provisions of the RH Law or Republic Act 10354, which allow couples to choose to suppress life, violate this constitutional provision.

They said the new law violates Article XV, which imposes on the government the duty to “strengthen (family’s) solidarity and actively promote its total development” and provides for “inviolable marriage” and “right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions, and the demands of responsible parenthood.”

Despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church, which only espouses natural family planning methods, Congress passed the law last Dec. 19.

President Aquino signed the RH law two days later.