The Palace has issued Executive Order no. 12, which emphasizes the need for the government to provide access to family planning methods to its citizens.
While the Reproductive Health Law was enacted in December 2012, it continued to encounter opposition from various groups and in fact has not been able to achieve its objectives. The Supreme Court has sat for two years on a restraining order it had issued on the promotion and distribution of hormonal contraceptives.
Because of the TRO, the government is only able to offer tubal ligation, vasectomy and natural methods. Even the distribution of condoms still invites criticism.
Previous administrations, out of deference to—nay, fear—of the politically powerful Catholic Church were inclined to use the term “reproductive health” instead of the more accurate “family planning”
In the end, though, this is what it really is—enabling Filipino families to assert their choice on how they would build, and raise, their families. For the first time, and thankfully, this administration calls it what it is—because planning is always a good thing.
“You don’t want women to have unwanted babies because then, they would have difficulty raising their babies to their full potential,” National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.
This is not the first time the Executive has taken the lead to nudge a co-equal branch of government to doing as it should. Recall that Mr. Duterte also issued an order on freedom of information, albeit within his sphere, just so Congress could take a hint and pass, finally, the FOI bill that had been festering in its chambers. Alas, nothing has come out of it to date. Perhaps lawmakers do not heed mere suggestions.
In this case, Pernia is correct to score the Supreme Court for taking its sweet time resolving the issue. “[We] cannot continue tolerating the delay in judgment,” he said.
Any measure to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor and allow Filipinos to determine for themselves the quality of life they wish to have is always a good thing. On this one, we agree with the President that it is the government’s role to provide families with options. Limiting their choices or keeping them in the dark is consigning them to doom.