MANILA, Philippines – Unperturbed by the Supreme Court’s status quo ante order on the Reproductive Health law, the Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday, March 19, called on supporters of the Reproductive Health law to calm down and wait for further developments.
“Tayo po ay kumalma, huwag tayong mag over-react. Hindi na ito kailangan ng bansa ngayon. Huwag na tayong dumagdag pa sa mga issue na kinakaharap natin ngayon,” said DOH Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag, who chaired the technical working group for the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the RH law. (Let’s all be calm, let’s not over-react. This is not what our country needs. Let’s not add to the issues that we are now faced with.)
The DOH was all set to implement the law on Easter Sunday, March 31. However, the department was unable to publish the IRR over the weekend. With the status quo ante order, the implementation of the RH law will be delayed for up to 4 months.
“Kami ay nakapaghintay ng 14 years bago nagkaroon ng batas na ito. Makakapaghintay pa din kami pero sana ay hindi na ganoon katagal,” he said. (We have waited 14 years for this to become a law. We can wait further but hopefully, not that long)
Tayag said the department will consult lawyers on whether the status quo ante order also covers the publication of the IRR.
Oral arguments on the RH law have been scheduled on June 18.
Advocates of the RH law in the House of Representatives have expressed confidence that the SC order on Tuesday is only a temporary setback for them.
But House Deputy Majority Floor Leader Janette Garin said 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 in December 2012. But various individuals and groups went to the High Court to question its constitutionality. In response to the petitions, the Court issued a status quo ante order, which would allow the justices more time — 120 days — to hear and study arguments related to the issue.
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