MANILA - The Chief Justice clarified Thursday that it has never barred the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law after President Rodrigo Duterte criticized the issuance of a stay order against two contraceptives.
"By the express terms of the Court's Decisions, there is no [temporary restraining order] against the implementation of the RH Law or all contraceptive products," Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said in a statement.
Sereno explained that the SC issued a TRO only for a specific provision of the RH law: the distribution of contraceptives Implanon and Implanon NXT. The TRO prohibits the Department of Health to procure, sell, distribute, administer, advertise and promote the hormonal contraceptive “Implanon” and “Implanon NXT” which have been certified by the Food and Drug Administration
to have "abortifacient character.”
The chief justice said the TRO will be lifted as soon as the FDA certifies that Implanon and Impanon NXT are not abortifacient.
Duterte lamented Monday that the SC's restraining order has hindered the government's full implementation of the RH Law.
"The TRO has become the bane of [government] projects," the President said in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Looking at Sereno, who was among his guests, he then added: "I will not attribute anything, Ma’am, to the Supreme Court. Maybe I am at fault, so, I am sorry... But itong Congress passed the Reproductive Health law. It was already a law na dapat i-implement, because we are already going into family planning."
The President said he has ordered Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial to donate soon-to-expire contraceptives to another country rather than let these go to waste.
"I told Ubial, the health secretary, to find out if there is a nation which would allow it and i-donate na lang rather than go to waste. I do not blame you, you might be very busy or something,” he said.
Duterte's predecessor, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, signed the RH Law in 2012, drawing the ire of the Church, as he sought to offer free condoms and other contraceptives to the poor.
The Philippine population is expected to reach 105.75 million by the end of 2017, the Commission on Population earlier said.
At least 1.69 million Filipinos births are expected in 2017. Three Filipino babies are projected to be born every minute this year.