SONA 2016: Duterte urges full implementation of RH law

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) urged the full implementation of the reproductive health (RH) law.

"The implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law must be put into full force and effect so that couples, especially the poor, will have freedom of informed choice in the number and spacing of children they can adequately care and provide for, eventually making them more productive members of the labor force," Duterte said on Monday, July 25.

Duterte has always supported the RH law, but on Monday, he did not provide specifics on how its full implementation will be ensured.

He was also silent on the temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court (SC), which advocates consider the biggest challenge in implementing the law.

The SC in 2015 temporarily stopped the health department's distribution and sale of implants, a contraceptive that can prevent pregnancies for up to 3 years.

The High Court also prohibited the Food and Drug Administration from "granting any and all pending application for reproductive products and supplies, including contraceptive drugs and devices."

According to the Commission on Population (PopCom), almost 90% of contraceptive brands will no longer be available by 2018 if the TRO remains in place. 

PopCom said this situation will make the RH law "ineffective."

The Office of the Solicitor General already filed a motion to lift the TRO in 2015. Another motion filed last June 24 also asked the SC to allow the distribution of existing units of implants "before their expiration dates pending resolution of this case."

Still, the latest report on the implementation of the RH law revealed that despite the TRO, the use of modern family planning methods in the country still increased in 2015.

On Monday, Duterte also vowed that the government will provide universal health care for all Filipinos.

"The professional competence and operational capabilities of government hospitals and health facilities will be strengthened," he added. – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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