Amid drug war worries, EU backs Duterte on Reproductive Health push


Posted at Mar 30 2017 03:51 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte is seen during a welcome ceremony in Myanmar, March 20, 2017. Pyay Kyaw Aung, Reuters

MANILA - The European Union (EU) on Thursday threw its support behind President Rodrigo Duterte's call for the implementation of provisions of the Reproductive Health (RH) law that were stopped temporarily by the Supreme Court. 

Duterte had asked the SC to lift a temporary restraining order (TRO) that has blocked the approval of new registrations for birth control and the distribution of hormonal contraceptives “Implanon” and “Implanon NXT.”

If not lifted, the TRO will lead to the inability to procure and distribute 70 percent of modern contraceptives by 2019 and will thus lead to major stock outs of contraceptives in most government and rural health clinics, said EU Ambassador Franz Jessen. 

Lack of access to reproductive health, Jessen said, has left poor families with less money for their children's needs, and has led to a high teenage pregnancy rate in the country. 

"The EU remains fully committed to supporting the government and civil society organisations. Access to family planning is an important element of its fight for gender equality and women's rights and empowerment," Jessen said. 

In time for the Women's Month this March, the EU recently pledged €4.46 million (P243 million) for the improvement of reproductive health services in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. 

Duterte had repeatedly attacked the EU for criticizing his war on drugs and demanding the release of Senator Leila de Lima, whom they deemed a political prisoner. 

The EU this week summoned Philippine Chargé d'Affaires to Belgium, Alan Deniega, to explain Duterte's tirades.