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Overwhelming majority of Filipinos (92%) believe it is important to mitigate fertility and plan their family

Filipinos do not only recognize the importance of family planning, they also strongly approve of government’s allocation of funds for modern contraceptives. The latest Pulse Asia Survey concluded just before the 2007 elections showed an overwhelming majority of Filipinos (92%) believe it is important to mitigate fertility and plan their family. ...

A fourth committee of the House of Representatives has endorsed H.B. 5043

A fourth committee of the House of Representatives has endorsed House Bill 5043 or the proposed “Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development Act of 2008” principally authored by Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman. The Committee on Rules approved today the plenary consideration of the controversial bill which mandates government to provide information and services on all forms of family planning and allocate adequate funds for the reproductive health program. ...

Family Planning

“It is distressing that the miracle of life means death to 10 mothers daily in the Philippines,” Rep. Edcel C. Lagman of Albay stressed during the 2nd National Multi-Sectoral Conference on Population and Development last August 15, 2007. The Bicol solon is the principal author of House Bill No. 17 or the “Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development Act of 2007”. ...

Presidential Approval of 2008 GAA Affirms Executive-Legislative Common Agenda

The Presidential approval of the P1.227 trillion 2008 General Appropriations Act with minimal direct item vetoes is a reaffirmation of the Executive-Legislative common agenda of providing adequate basic social services and enhancing infrastructure development. It also signifies the Executive’s guarded concurrence with the congressional thrusts on non-confrontational debt service reduction policy and accelerated impartial stress on reproductive health and population management. ...
Mongrelized 'constituent assembly' Print
In the News
Monday, 01 September 2014 10:14
12:05 am | Monday, September 1st, 2014

 

Way back in October 2011, when I was the minority leader of the House of Representatives, I exhorted my co-lawmakers in both the House and the Senate not to adopt a variation of the constituent assembly wherein proposals to amend or revise the Constitution would be made through the ordinary legislative process. I felt that the “innovation” was simply flawed, a mongrel bereft of pedigree under the Charter.

 

Without first convening Congress into a constituent assembly, this skewed variation has again surfaced in “Resolution of Both Houses No. 01.” The resolution proposes to add the phrase “Unless otherwise provided by law” to the following economic provisions mandating preferential ownership for Filipinos:

 

(a) exploration, development and utilization of natural resources (paragraph 1, Section 2, Article XII on “National Patrimony and Economy”);(b) ownership of alienable lands of the public domain (par. 1, Sec. 3, Article XII); (c) conveyance or transfer of private lands (Sec. 7, Art. XII); (d) investments in certain restricted areas (par. 1, Sec. 10, Art. XII); (e) operation of public utilities (Sec. 11, Art. XII); (f) ownership of educational institutions, other than those established by religious groups and missions boards (No. 2, Sec. 4, Article XV on “Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports”); and (g) ownership and management of mass media and advertising (Sec. 11, Nos. (1) and (2), Article XV on “General Provisions”).

 

Resolution of Both Houses No. 01 is being debated in the House of Representatives as a regular legislative measure before its transmission to the Senate for concurrence. This procedure is a mongrelized “constituent assembly.”

 

A Constitution is the supreme handiwork of the sovereign people who ratify it. Although constitutional provisions are not etched in stone, proposals to amend or revise any provision of the Charter cannot be done with facility and alacrity. The Constitution itself provides for the limited modes of effecting Charter change.

 

The 1935 and 1973 constitutions provided for a constituent assembly or a constitutional convention as alternative modes of initiating Charter amendments. The 1987 Constitution added a third mode—people’s initiative. Therefore, a mere legislative act of Congress, be it a statute or a joint resolution, cannot validly propose a constitutional amendment simply because ordinary legislation is not one of the modes.

 

Section 1(1) of Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution—which provides that “Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by (1) the Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members”—solely refers to Congress sitting as a constituent assembly, not Congress sitting as a legislative body. A liberal application of this provision, that is, enfranchising Congress as a legislative body to propose constitutional amendments, is flawed and untenable for the following reasons:

 

(1) Proposing constitutional amendments is an exercise of constituent power. Perforce, Congress must meet as a constituent assembly to validate any proposed amendment.

(2) The errant interpretation justifying the ordinary legislative process as a legitimate mode for Charter change defies established precedents: Congress in 1957, 1966-1967 and 1969, as well as the Batasan Pambansa in 1980-1984, proposed constitutional amendments as a constituent assembly; and more recently, resolutions were filed for Congress to meet as a constituent assembly.

(3) It obliterates the clear distinction between the legislative power of Congress and its constituent authority.

 

The Supreme Court as early as Nov. 9, 1967, in Gonzales vs Comelec (21 SCRA 774), made an unequivocal distinction between legislative power exercised by Congress and the constituent authority discharged by it as a constituent assembly when it ruled that:

“Indeed, the power to amend the Constitution or to propose amendments thereto is not included in the general grant of legislative powers to Congress XXX Hence, when exercising the same, it is said that Senators and Members of the House of Representatives act, not as Members of Congress, but as component elements of a constituent assembly.”

 

Gonzales was reiterated in Tolentino vs Comelec (41 SCRA 702). Indeed, making use of the ordinary legislative process as an alternative format for a constituent assembly is infirm.

 

Aside from the procedural infirmity of the resolution, the wisdom of a wholesale grant of congressional power to liberalize or “alienize” the economic provisions is questionable because:

 

(1) The congressional blanket authority to alter, delimit or altogether delete by law or statute the preferential quantum of ownership reserved to Filipinos is improvident, considering that Congress is a partisan body that is more susceptible to the importuning of vested interests.

(2) The safeguarding of our posterity, the citizenship requirement in land ownership and in the exploration and utilization of strategic natural resources, and the insulation of public utilities, the educational system, media and advertising enterprises from alien control are salutary constitutional provisions which must be maintained.

(3) Foreign investors do not prioritize the liberalization of the economic provisions; in fact foreign investments continue to flow in, given the favorable environment of adequate infrastructure, improved peace and order, predictability and consistency of domestic economic policies, and a vigorous campaign against corrupt practices which deplete foreign capital.

 

It is very obvious, “Resolution of Both Houses No. 01” is defective in procedure and deficient in merit.

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Edcel C. Lagman is a former representative of the first district of Albay.

 

 
100 millionth Filipino baby Print
Press Statements
Monday, 28 July 2014 07:55

Former Rep. Edcel C. Lagman

0916-6406737

The birth of the 100 millionth Filipino baby again puts in focus the critical immediacy of fully implementing the reproductive health law as an increasing population imperils finite resources and strains limited budgets.

This was stressed by former Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, the principal author of the controversial measure which took over 13 years to enact and which was recently declared constitutional by the Supreme Court.

It is symbolic that baby girl Chonalyn was born at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital which has long been reputed to be a “baby factory” where inordinately numerous deliveries are recorded daily, Lagman added.

The former Albay solon said that the following important provisions of the RH Law, among others, must be implemented with reasonable alacrity:

1.            Government extension and grant of reproductive health care, services and commodities to the marginalized sectors who are willing acceptors of RH and family planning programs.

2.            The procurement by the Department of Health (DOH) of medically-safe, legal, effective and non-abortifacient contraceptives and devices for distribution to the poor and to the local government units (LGUs).

3.            The retraining of barangay health workers so that they could competently assist in the implementation of the RH Law.

4.            The immediate formulation of an RH curriculum by the Department of Education (DepEd) for enrolled adolescent pupils and students which may be adopted by private schools so that RH good practices and beneficent results can be instilled early among the young.

5.            Extensive training of teachers who will handle reproductive health classes for adolescents in the coming school years.

6.            Adequate outlays for RH for inclusion in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) to be submitted to the Congress by the President after the SONA.

7.            Meaningful and responsive appropriations by the Congress starting 2015 to fully implement the RH Law.

 
The RH Law is not population control Print
In the News
Friday, 25 April 2014 14:23

 

By Edcel C. Lagman

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:04 am | Thursday, April 24th, 2014



With profound appreciation of the Supreme Court’s unanimous verdict upholding the constitutionality of the Reproductive Health Law on the whole and with due respect to Associate Justice Jose C. Mendoza who penned the ponencia, there is critical need, however, to clarify a number of disturbing statements, observations and obiter expressed in the ponencia.

 

The repeated reference by Justice Mendoza to the perfunctory statement that the RH Law is basically a population control measure was not determinative of the constitutional issues. Moreover, the recurrent observation has no anchorage in the language and spirit of the RH Law because:

 

• No less than Sec. 3(l) of the law provides that “[t]here shall be no demographic or population targets and the mitigation, promotion and/or stabilization of the population growth rate is incidental to the advancement of reproductive health.”

 

• This unequivocal provision negates population control since: (a) no specific rate or range of population growth is prescribed; and (b) the mitigation of the population growth rate is the result of affording women, couples and parents the exercise of their human right to freely and responsibly determine the number and spacing of their children.

Incidentally, surveys show that poor women would like to limit the number of their children but they do not have access to family planning information and supplies. Under the RH Law, the government shall give marginalized voluntary acceptors the requisite information, supplies and services.

 

• Population control is anathema to the law’s hallmark of freedom of informed choice where both compulsion and reward are proscribed. Section 3(a) mandates that “[t]he right to make free and informed decisions, which is central to the exercise of any right, shall not be subjected to any form of coercion and must be fully guaranteed by the State like the right itself.”

 

Likewise, Sec. 3(h) provides that “[t]he State shall respect individuals’ preferences and choice of family planning methods that are in accordance with their religious convictions and cultural beliefs, taking into consideration the State’s obligations under various human rights instruments.”

 

To give full meaning to the freedom of informed choice, the authors  removed voluntarily  the precursor provision of Section 13 of the original House Bill No. 16 on “Ideal Family Size” which reads: “In order to attain the desired population growth rate, the State shall encourage two (2) children as the ideal family size. Children from these families shall have preference in the grant of scholarships at the tertiary level.”

 

As finally enacted, the RH Law does not contain a provision similar to or identical with this provision on ideal family size. The norm of a two-child policy, which was not even mandatory, was deleted together with the reward of a college scholarship for children who belong to a two-child family. The authors considered the expectance of a reward for one’s children as impairing the freedom of choice. Also scrapped was any reference to a “desired population growth rate.”

 

• As correctly pointed out by the ponente, “the RH Law does not prescribe the number of children a couple may have and does not impose conditions upon couples who intend to have children” (Decision, page 94). The earmarks of population control are absent.

 

• Instead of a population control measure, the RH Law is a health measure, particularly for the health of women, adolescents, children and infants. It is a human rights legislation which guarantees the right to reproductive self-determination. It is a poverty alleviation program and a veritable agenda for sustainable human development.

 

To reiterate, the oft-repeated reference to “population control” was not necessary in adjudicating that the RH Law is constitutional. “Control” denotes coercion or compulsion which goes against the RH Law’s granting premium to the primacy of individual conscience and choice in adopting any family planning option.

 

On the controversial issue on the beginning of life, the ponente accurately said that the “Majority of the Members of the Court are of the position that the question of when life begins is a scientific and medical issue that should not be decided, at this stage, without proper hearing and evidence” (Decision, page 39). He also correctly added: “During the deliberation, however, it was agreed upon that the individual members of the Court could express their own views on the matter” (Decision, page 39).

 

Subsequently, the ponente lengthily discussed his personal view that “life begins at fertilization.” We may acquiesce to his “justifications” which straddled a little over 10 percent of the ponencia (Decision, pages 39-48).  We regret, however, that at the end of his disquisition, Justice Mendoza attributed his personal view to the Court’s collective opinion when he stated: “For the above reasons, the Court cannot subscribe to the theory advocated by Hon. Lagman that life begins at implantation” (Decision, page 48).

 

This remark contradicts the majority’s desistance to resolve the medical and scientific issue of when life begins “without a proper hearing and evidence.” How then can the Court reject the submission that life begins at the implantation of the fertilized ovum in the uterine wall when the Court a priori refused to decide when life begins?

Verily, Justice Mendoza’s view is his own, not the Supreme Court’s.

 

Edcel C. Lagman authored the reproductive health bill in the 15th Congress as representative of the first district of Albay.



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