MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 19, issued a status quo ante order against the Reproductive Health law, temporarily stopping the law’s implementation.
The justices voted 10-5, in favor of the status quo ante order, which is effective for 120 days, or 4 months.
SC has issued a 120 day SQAO v the implementation of the RH Law; the SQAO was issued w a 10-5 vote. Orals on June 18; reso to follow.— Theodore Te (@TedTe) March 19, 2013
The justices who voted for the order were Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita de Castro, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Roberto Abad, Martin Villarama Jr., Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza, and Bienvenido Reyes.
Those who voted against the order were Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Antonio Carpio, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Mariano Del Castillo, and Marvic Leonen.
The Court has set oral arguments on June 18.
Malacañang said they will observe the order. “We will observe the SQA resolution issued by the Supreme Court and we are confident that government will be able to defend the merits of the Responsible Parenthood Law,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
‘Victory, but not final yet’
The Catholic Church and pro-life groups welcomed the decision, saying they interpreted the Court’s decision as backing the merits of their argument.
“We deem it as a victory, but not a final victory yet,” Eric Manalang, president of Pro-Life Philippines, told AFP, describing the law as “evil.”
The Department of Health called on RH advocates to calm down, saying this was a temporary delay for the law. Lawmakers who supported the law also expressed confidence that the justices will eventually rule that the law is constitutional.
House Deputy Majority Floor Leader Janette Garin said, however, that although she respects the SC, delaying the implementation of the law only means “more mothers dying everyday, more children being orphaned and many Filipino families being deprived of their choice to have a better quality of life.”
After more than a decade of opposition by the influential Catholic Church, legislators passed the measure late last year and it formally took effect in January.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has since called for a “morality vote” in the May mid-term elections against legislators who voted for the passage of the law. – Rappler.com/With reports from the Agence France-Presse