Starting September 8, 2012, anonymous comments -- whether for or against the RH bill -- will no longer be permitted on this blog.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A UP Diliman student on why the Reproductive Health Law is unconstitutional and should be abolished

Abolish the Unconstitutional Reproductive Law
Position Paper by Mary Minette M. Geñorga (University of the Philippines)

Once a bill is passed and it becomes a law, it does not mean that it cannot be abolished anymore. In the Republic of the Philippines, the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, a law that gives universal access to methods on contraception, fertility control, sex education, maternal care and family planning was approved by President Benigno Aquino III last December 21, 2012. Prior to the passage of the bill, two groups of people emerged to support and to criticize the bill. Different forums, debates, rallies and other demonstrations took place to express the side of both groups. "When does life begin?" and "Are contraceptives abortifacients?" are some of the questions intensely debated about over the bill. Amendments were proposed to respond to certain criticisms. Some of these amendments were approved and some were rejected. After 13 years of revisions and arguments over a law for responsible parenthood and reproductive health, the law was finally approved by the president. Yet, the commotion over the controversial bill did not stop when it was passed into a law. The implementation of the law is still pending. A status quo ante order was issued by the Supreme Court for the magistrates to assess the merits of the 14 petitions that were filed by various groups stating that the law is unconstitutional. According to an article on, the voting for the legality of the said law has been rescheduled to April 2014 wherein the Supreme Court‟s annual summer session will be held (Punay).

It is clear that criticisms of the RH law persisted despite the fact that it has already been passed and approved. Its legality is being questioned mainly because it steps over some rights that are stated on our constitution. This violation on constitutional provisions leads to the need for the abrogation of the said law.

What are these constitutional provisions that the RH law violates? An article on from September 28, 2013 reports that Fr. Melvin Castro, the executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, asked the Supreme Court to declare the law as unconstitutional following that the Priority Development Assistance Fund or what is commonly known as pork barrel was used to pass the bill through bribery(Uy). The unconstitutionality of the law was again brought up in February 2014. In an article on, Buhay Hayaang Yumabong party-list Representative Lito Atienza said:

Instead of instilling a contraceptive mentality in our children, our leaders should be cultivating a culture of life as embodied in our Constitution-Article II, Section 12. The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. (Pacpaco)

Another violation is explained by Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. in a report on The former Senate President of the country explains that the said law is unconstitutional as it violates the local and regional autonomy of the local government units. He relayed how Muslims, especially the ones from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, consider children as their assets and they argued that the central government should not dictate what they will do for the education and health of their people(qtd. in Malalis). The violation of the doctrine of “benevolent neutrality” that is part of the 1987 constitution under the freedom of religion clause is another violation that adds up to the list of unconstitutional provisions of the RH Law which an article on reports on(Reformina). In relation to this, under the provision in Section five article three, the Constitution says that "[n]o law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" (“The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines”). Moreover, under Section 19 of the RH Law it states “The FDA shall issue strict guidelines with respect to the use of contraceptives, taking into consideration the side effects or other harmful effects of their use.” 
(“ Republic Act No. 10354”)

Why would the use of contraceptives be included in a law if it is already known that its use will bring harmful effects?

Along with stepping over the rights of Filipinos, the RH law institutionalizes risks. One of these risks being the health risk that comes with the use of contraceptives. Many arguments have been made against the use of contraceptives. After the revisions, the specific type of contraceptive that is included in the law is the hormonal contraceptive. An article on reports that Luisito Liban, an anti-RH lawyer, argues that the government has arbitrarily declared hormonal contraceptives safe by allowing it in the law (Fonbuena). This institutionalizes the hazards that contraceptives will bring to Filipinos. Another risk that is brought about by the RH law is that through increasing contraception availability it increases the population coverage of failure rate in terms of avoiding sexually transmitted illnesses(STI). Manufactured products have inherent defects. An example of a manufactured product is the latex condom which has pores of five to seventy microns. A human sperm cell has a diameter of five microns and the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS has a diameter of 0.1 microns. Through the presentation of this numerical data, it can be seen that the use of condoms does not completely prevent the transfer of STIs like AIDS. People tend to think that with the use of contraceptives they are protecting themselves from STIs. This is not true because AIDS is not even the top STI but it is Human papillomavirus or HPV. HPV is acquired or transmitted through skin contact. Its spread cannot be prevented with the use of contraceptives. Because people lack awareness about this kind of information, a false sense of security is established by having the wide distribution of contraceptives. Filipinos are made to think that since these condoms are part of the RH law and it is part of our constitution to protect the well-being of a person, these condoms will not bring any harm to them. Contraceptives will harm people through making them more susceptible to STIs which may even lead to death.

Aside from creating hazards to Filipinos as individuals through contraception, the RH also creates hazards to Filipinos as families. According to the studies of Nobel prize winner, George Akerlof, a contraceptive lifestyle paves the way for more premarital sex, more fatherless children, more single mothers, more poverty, more abortions, a decline of marriage, more crimes, more social pathology and poverty.

The said law does not only create risks to Filipinos but also to the Philippine economy. It is based on wrong economics. It seen as a factor that will help in the economic development of our country but that is not the case. An article on states that “There is no clear correlation between population growth and economic development”, according to Simon Kuznets, Nobel Prize winner in the science of economics (qtd. in “7 Point”). It has been presented in anti-RH arguments that population control is not a factor that is needed for a high economic growth unlike governance, openness to knowledge, stable finances, market allocation, investment and savings. 

The desire to improve the economy brings us back to the people. In an address delivered by Carlos Romulo, secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, before the eighth World Peace Through Law Conference, he reminds the people at the Philippine Convention Center in August 24, 1977 that wherever you may be born and in whatever circumstance, human beings have the right to be treated as human beings. This basic right should be protected so that all the others may be protected as well. Laws are implemented for the good of society. There is no need for a law that does not promote the rights of humans.

The RH Law with its unconstitutional provisions, risks to Filipino individuals and Filipino families and wrong economic basis gives the people something to ponder upon. Is it really just to have this law in our country? Is it even needed in our country? Does it address the top problems faced by the nation? A law that has been long debated upon and now is pending for its implementation, the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, violates constitutional provisions which leads to the necessity of abolishing the law.

Works Cited

“1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines.” Chan Robles Virtual Law Library., n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2012.

Fonbuena, Carmela. “Chief Justice Takes Up Cudgels for RH Law”. Rappler. 23 Aug 2013. Web. 12 Mar 2014.

Malalis, Abigail. “Nene Pimentel: RH Law 'Unconstitutional'”. Sun.Star Publishing, Inc. 10 July 2013. Web. 12 Mar 2014.

Pacpaco, Ryan. “Atienza Believes SC will Declare RH Law Unconstitutional”. I-Map Websolutions, Inc. 15 Feb 2014. Web. 12 Mar 2014.

Punay, Edu. “SC Resets Vote on RH to April”. Philstar. 5 Mar 2014. Web. 12 Mar 2014.

Reformina, Ina. “SC Consolidates 14th Petition vs RH Law”. ABS-CBN Interactive. 02 Aug 2013. Web. 12 Mar 2014. 

“Republic Act No. 10354”. Web. 12 Mar 2014. 

Romulo, Carlos. The Right to Life is the Basic Human Right. Mandaue City:National Media Production Center. 1977. Print.

“7 Point Manifesto Families Against RH Bill”. CBCP for Life. 10 July 2011. Web. 12 Mar 2014.

Uy, Jocelyn. “SC Asked to Declare RH Law unconstitutional”. 28 Sept 2013. Web. 12 Mar 2014.

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