High court clarifies order only covers two contraceptive products
MANILA- The Supreme Court has affirmed the temporary restraining order (TRO) it had issued on the registration, procurement and distribution of contraceptive implants considered to be abortifacients but clarified that only two products were covered by the order.
The ruling, released to the media on Friday, said that the high court cannot lift the TRO prior to the summary hearing to be conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the safety, efficacy, purity, quality, and non-abortiveness of the contraceptives.
“To grant its prayer to lift the TRO would be premature and presumptuous. Any declaration by the Court at this time would have no basis because the FDA, which has the mandate and expertise on the matter, has to first resolve the controversy pending before its Office,” the ruling said.
In June 2015, the high tribunal ordered the Department of Health and its agents to temporarily stop "procuring, selling, distributing, dispensing or administering, advertising and promoting the hormonal contraceptive Implanon and Implanon NXT."
Two months later, the Department and the FDA were also prohibited from registering and recertifying contraceptives.
The court also clarified that the TRO only prevented the DOH from registering, recertifying, procuring, and administering Implanon and Implanon NXT— contraceptives being contested by the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc.
“It never meant to enjoin the processing of the entire gamut of family planning supplies that have been declared as unquestionably non-abortifacient. Moreover, the injunction issued by the Court was only subject to the condition that the respondents afford the petitioners a genuine opportunity to their right to due process,” it said.
Also on Friday, a petition signed by some 300,000 people was submitted to the SC urging the high tribunal to lift its temporary restraining order on contraceptives, the Commission on Population (PopCom) said.
The government agency, tasked to manage population-related development programs, expressed support for petitioners, cited that petitioners include urban poor women and men who are more likely to be affected by the order.
Because of the court order, PopCom said, 15 certificates of product registration expired in 2016, and 10 others expired this month, leaving only 23 contraceptive brands available to the public.
The agency also lifting the TRO would pave the way for the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Act, passed in 2012.
The controversial law guarantees universal access to all methods of modern contraception, comprehensive sexuality education, and maternal and child care.