Duque assures public he’ll implement RH Law

Mara Cepeda

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Duque assures public he’ll implement RH Law
DOH Secretary Francisco Duterte III once followed ex-president Gloria Arroyo's hardline stance against contraceptives when he served in her Cabinet

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III gave the assurance he is duty-bound to implement the Reproductive Health (RH) Law, despite his previous stance on the issue.

Duque, prior his appointment to the post by President Rodrigo Duterte in October, became DOH chief for the first time during the presidency of Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from June 2005 to January 2010.

At the time, the Arroyo administration adopted a hardline stance against contraceptives and instead promoted the natural family planning method. But the RH Law was signed into law by ex-president Benigno Aquino III in December 2012 after a years-long struggle. 

Duque said he toed the administration line then because the RH Law did not exist. 

“There’s a law [now] and we have to implement the law. And as a member of the executive branch of the bureaucracy, it is our bounded duty to implement what is in the law,” Duque told reporters after his turnover ceremony at the DOH on Monday, November 6. 

He assured RH advocates that he will not be hampering the implementation of the law. 

“Of course. Otherwise, I will be charged with dereliction of duty or gross neglect of duty,” said Duque.

The RH Law is still facing a two-year-old temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC) against contraceptive implant brands Implanon and Implanon NXT, which can prevent pregnancies up to 3 years.  

The same SC ruling also barred the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from “granting any and all pending application for reproductive products and supplies, including contraceptive drugs and devices.” This clause has led to the gradual phasing out of contraceptives in the market.

The SC said the FDA must certify the two Implanon brands as non-abortifacients for it to lift the TRO. (READ: Contraceptives review won’t be influenced by politics, hysteria – FDA)

This week, the FDA is expected to release a resolution certifying the two contraceptive implant brands as not inducing abortion. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.