BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – After more than a decade languishing in Congress and a year-long order stopping its implementation, the reproductive health law finally passes legal scrutiny.
The High Tribunal declares the RH law constitutional, except for some provisions.
Buena Bernal reports.
Purple and red ribbons representing opposite camps surround the Supreme Court compound in Baguio City. Celebration breaks out as the High Court declares the Reproductive Health law constitutional.
THEODORE TE, SUPREME COURT SPOKESMAN: The Court, after a scrutiny of the various arguments and contentions of the parties in the foregoing consolidated cases consisting of 14 petitions challenging the constitutionality and two interventions to uphold the constitutionality of Republic Act No 10354 or the RH law held that the RH law is not unconstitutional based on the grounds raised.
Long-time advocate Chi Vallida saw the growth of the movement. Once sidelined in the media, RH became an issue people want to talk about.
CHI VALLIDA, RH ADVOCATE: During the early years of the campaign for reproductive health, we feel so defeated, because even the media then we’re telling us we’re not frontpage issue. Social media has really catapulted the discussion. It has really raised awareness of people, and it has really changed the landscape of our advocacy campaign.
The law funds the distribution of free modern contraceptives, requires government hospitals to provide reproductive health services, and mandates public schools to teach sex education.
Lobbyists are keen on asking the High Court to review the provisions it struck down. This includes allowing health workers to follow their conscience in providing RH information.
RISA HONTIVEROS, PRO-RH FORMER LAWMAKER: Ang sa amin yung saya namin sa matamis na tagumpay na ito. Ibig sabihin, alam namin na meron talagang solid na panalo ngayon at basehan para saaming mga susunod na hakbang. Para kung ano man ang sinabi nilang bahagi ng mga probisyong o seksyong na unconstitutional ay magawan pa namin ng solusyon. (For us, we are happy with this sweet victory. What it means is we know that there really is a solid win today, and a basis for our next steps. For a solution can still be made for whatever are the portions of the provisions or sections declared unconstitutional.)
But the Catholic Church, the law’s staunchest critic, likens the Court decision to the persecution of the Saints.
FR MELVIN CASTRO, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, CBCP COMMISSION ON FAMILY AND LIFE: When we remember the Lord, when he suffered and died, before the human courts, he lost. Before the public opinion, they were crying out crucify him. And the Lord said, followers would suffer just as he did. We’re prepared to suffer… What matters is to teach what is true and good.
Even the CBCP leadership maintains the court ruling waters down the law.
The debate is sure to continue on the nuances of the law, even as anti-RH advocates refuse to concede defeat.
But as the core provisions of the law are upheld, its impending implementation already spells victory for the RH activists.
Buena Bernal, Rappler, Baguio City – Rappler.com