Court asked to stop international RH conference

By Rainier Allan Ronda, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 22 2014 02:41 AM | Updated as of Jan 22 2014 10:41 AM

Pro-life advocates hold a picket on Tuesday outside the Philippine International Convention Center where the 7th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights is being held. About 3,000 reproductive health advocates are attending the two-day conference. Photo by Lito Diaz for

MANILA, Philippines - A trial court was asked yesterday to stop an international youth conference on sexuality and reproductive health in Manila, whose agenda reportedly advocates abortion.

Pro-Life Philippines (PLP) filed a petition for temporary restraining order before the Pasay City regional trial court to stop the holding of the 7th Asia-Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health & Rights (APCRSHR).

The four-day 7th APCRSHR opened yesterday at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) with Sen. Pia Cayetano as one of the main speakers.

Eric Manalang, president of PLP, said the court is set to hear their petition at 2 p.m. today.

“Their topic is about abortion and its availability to women and the youth,” Manalang told The STAR.

“Our laws prohibit abortion. Propagating and teaching it is a criminal act,” Manalang said.

Manalang led other PLP members in a picket outside the PICC to demonstrate their opposition to the conference.

In a press briefing, Jeross Aguilar, chairperson of the Youth Steering Committee of the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, said that the conference aimed to provide the youth of the Asia-Pacific region a venue to discuss sexual and reproductive health (RH) matters.

Aguilar was joined at the press briefing by Princess Gusti Pembayun of the Kingdom and Special Region of Yogyakarta of Indonesia, and Tewodros Melesse, director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

“Young people have to take an active role so that their voice is heard,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar lamented the strong opposition by the religious establishments in the Philippines and other countries in Asia to discussions on RH issues.

The conference, he stressed, was “organized by young people for young people.”

Cayetano, in an interview with reporters, expressed regret over the PLP’s rally and the filing of the petition for TRO. Cayetano argued the conference was not all about abortion.