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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. ...
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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Fascination over exceptions Print
In the News
Thursday, 17 April 2014 06:21

 

Fascination over exceptions

By 

12:10 am | Tuesday, April 15th, 2014


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Why be fascinated with the exceptions and fail to appreciate the general rule? The rule, as held by the Supreme Court, is that the Reproductive Health Law is constitutional, and the exceptions are some provisions which were voided to principally respect minority views.

Did the stricken provisions render the RH Law “toothless”? Not at all. The core provisions are intact, untouched by the judicial scalpel, foremost of which are the following:

1. The mandate for government to afford the marginalized sectors free access to family planning services and supplies (Sec. 3[c]).

2. The provision on the Philippine National Drug Formulary, which includes hormonal contraceptives, IUDs, injectables and other safe, legal, nonabortifacient and effective family planning devices and supplies, as determined by the Food and Drug Administration (Sec. 9).

3. The authority of the Department of Health to procure family planning supplies for distribution to local government units (LGUs) (Sec. 10).

4. The mandate for LGUs to assist in the implementation of the RH Law (Sections 5, 6, 8, 16 and 20).

5. The provision for RH education to adolescents in all schools (Sec. 14). Importantly, RH education is mandated for all schools, both public and private. The only difference is that the Department of Education shall formulate the curriculum for public schools, which may be adopted by private schools. Otherwise, private schools shall make their own curriculum, subject to the supervisory authority of the DepEd.

Section 14 does not distinguish whether an adolescent is enrolled in a public or private school. It would be a violation of the equal protection clause if adolescents in private schools are deprived of the benefits of RH education.

6. Government to pursue public awareness programs and nationwide multimedia campaign for reproductive health.

With the constitutionality of the foregoing salient provisions sustained, the voiding of a few provisions will not diminish the efficacy of the law and deter its full implementation.

The voided provisions can be categorized into the following groupings:

(a) Protection of the right of conscientious objectors: (i) hospitals owned by religious groups are not required to refer a patient needing reproductive health care to another hospital; (ii) an RH care provider who is a conscientious objector is not obliged to follow the referral requirement; (iii) a private RH care provider who is a conscientious objector is not required to render 40-hour a year pro bono service to indigent women for PhilHealth accreditation.

(b) Requirement of spousal and parental consent in the following cases: (i) spousal  consent is needed for a married person to undergo ligation/vasectomy; (ii) parental consent for a minor to access modern contraceptives even if such minor had already a miscarriage;

(iii) parental consent for minors who would like to avail of nonelective surgical procedures.

(c) Any public official who refuses to implement the RH Law.

(d) Any healthcare provider “who fails and/or refuses to disseminate information regarding programs and services on reproductive health regardless of his/her religious beliefs.”

The foregoing situations cover exceptions to the rule, to wit:

(a) Conscientious objectors are more the exception than the rule. The vast majority of health providers, albeit Catholics, are RH advocates. Moreover, a conscientious objector must act in good faith. Conscientious objection is not an absolute license to violate the RH Law. Furthermore, a patient who is refused medical care will seek on his own another provider even without a referral.

(b) In most cases, spouses discuss and agree if one has to undergo ligation or vasectomy, especially when such a procedure is medically recommended or they have already children. Consequently, the need for spousal consent in case of disagreement is again the exception than the rule.

(c) Nonelective surgical procedures for minors where parental consent is required happen rarely.

(d)  Public officials who refuse to support the RH program or hinder the implementation of the law constitute the exception because generally public functionaries will obey the law consistent with their oath of office.

However, a healthcare provider, whether public or private, who knowingly withholds information or intentionally provides incorrect information regarding programs and services on reproductive health is culpable, as held by the Supreme Court, because such prohibited acts “connote a sense of malice and ill motive to mislead or misrepresent the public as to the nature and effect of programs and services on reproductive health.”

Consequently, while refusal to disclose information or render service is exempt and nonactionable, knowingly giving misinformation about RH programs is penalized.

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



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