THE Department of Health (DOH) on Monday led a unified call to have the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) on contraceptives lifted with the holding the first Family Planning Conference in Quezon City.
DOH, together with the Commission on Population (POPCOM) and the Forum for Family Planning and Development, Inc., hopes to collect one million signatures as an initiative against the TRO, which participants at the conference scored as anti-women and anti-poor.
The Supreme Court’s (SC) decision prohibits the DOH and other agencies from promoting, distributing, or marketing contraceptives.
This prevents a third of women in a relationship in the country from practicing family planning through using contraceptives, said Juan Antonio Perez III, Executive Director of POPCOM.
Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said in a message read by Assistant Health Secretary Dr. Francia Laxamana that the SC needs to understand that the health of Filipinos especially women is the focus of the provisions of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law.
“Soon, we will rejoice because no mother will die from giving birth, no family is starving, and no couple will not be receiving their family planning needs,” Ubial added in her message.
Former President Fidel Ramos shared his insights about family planning and his experience during his presidency.
President Rodrigo Duterte also showed his support through a message saying he hopes that the attendees will “gain deeper understanding of the importance and advantages of family planning so that they, too, may help formulate viable actions to accelerate progress in our agenda of reform including population control and poverty reduction.”
An initiative to strengthen the government’s family planning program was also launched during the conference.
The Purple Ribbon Award is an award that will be given starting in 2017 to local government units (LGUs) as well as civil society organizations for their exemplary practices, accomplishments, and innovations in the implementation of the RPRH Law.
Meanwhile, a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and individuals petitioned to have the TRO lifted during the Kapihan at Annabel’s Restaurant last Saturday.
They fear that by 2018 about 90 percent of the certifications of contraceptives will have expired, making them inaccessible to about 14 million women.
Beth Angsioco, one of the petitioners, said that the daily maternal death rate in the Philippines has increased from 11 to 14.
“This is mass murder of our women,” said Angsioco.
According to her, the increase in maternal deaths could have been prevented if the public was educated and had access to family planning services as provisioned in the RPRH Law.
The group filed their petition last November 14.