RH law supporters on vigil, predict victory

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the law on April 8. Advocates cite the result of the SWS survey showing 77% of Filipinos think the law is constitutional.

YES TO RH. An activist re-enacts the crucifixion to dramatize his support for the RH law. Rappler photo

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – About 500 activists are holding a vigil outside the Supreme Court (SC) compound here, optimistic that the tribunal will uphold the constitutionality of the reproductive health (RH) law on Tuesday, April 8.

The supporters, who call themselves the Purple Ribbon for RH Movement, began a vigil on Monday, on the eve of the expected SC ruling on the RH law case. The justices hold their sessions in Baguio during summer.

Purple Ribbon convenors based their optimism on a nationwide survey showing sustained strong public support for the Reproductive Health (RH) law among Filipinos.

“The SC is on the verge of making history. We hope and pray that it will be on the right side of history when it makes its ruling by providing the  populace a chance at a better quality of life rather than bringing them back to dark times,” said former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros, a Purple Ribbon convenor.

Earlier on Monday, polling firm Social Weather Stations (SWS) announced the results of a nationwide survey, showing that 72% of the respondents support the RH law, while 77% believe it is constitutional, bolstering the expectations of the law’s supporters that they will have good news on Tuesday.

The law was signed by President Benigno Aquino III in December 2012, after 14 years of lobbying against it by mostly Catholic groups.

It has not been implemented since because its critics obtained a status quo ante order from the High Court about two weeks before its implementing rules and regulations could take effect.

The SC closed oral arguments on the RH law in August 2013.

Sex without fear

Actress Giselle Toengi, a staunch RH law advocate, said she anticipates victory for the RH law, considering its huge public support.

“I’m a positive person. I think that we would be victorious. The RH law has an overwhelming support from the people,” Toengi said.

Toengi is hoping that the Supreme Court will uphold the constitutionality of all the important provisions of the RH law.

“It will be a day of celebration if the SC approves the bill, especially for the women. Hand us an easy victory, not a pyrrhic one. We don’t want the important revisions touched,” the actress said.

Should the SC uphold the constitutionality of the RH law, Toengi said, “I will tell people to have sex without fear.”

The actress became emotional during the press conference when she recalled how then Manila Mayor Lito Atienza prohibited access of Manila women to contraceptives and other family planning services at the city’s health centers.

Toengi, who had just returned from her studies at the United States when such a policy was enforced in Manila, said, “That was unfair. This is my body. Don’t tell me what to do with it.”

Artist and cultural activist Carlos Celdran said that if the SC approves the constitutionality of the law, “then anything is possible.”

“We can now dream like a normal country,” said Celdran.

The activists have scheduled a series of activities for the vigil up to midnight in front of the SC compound. 

The Baguio artists are led by independent film icon Kidlat Tahimik and young performance artists Dumay Solinggay, Rocky Cajigan, Gelo Aurelio and Natividad. Cordillera bands are expected to hold their concert on Monday night. – Rappler.com 

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