Gov’t in­ten­si­fies free con­tra­cep­tives drive

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - NEWS - By Leila B. Salaver­ria @LeilasINQ

Pres­i­dent Duterte on Mon­day or­dered gov­ern­ment agen­cies to en­sure free ac­cess to con­tra­cep­tives for 6 mil­lion poor women, in a move ex­pected to be op­posed by the Catholic Church and pro­life groups.

So­cioe­co­nomic Plan­ning Sec­re­tary Ernesto Per­nia said Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der No. 12 was in­tended to im­ple­ment the Re­spon­si­ble Par­ent­hood and Re­pro­duc­tive Health Law, or RH Law, which is im­por­tant to re­duce poverty.

He said the gov­ern­ment’s tar­get was to cut the poverty rate from 21.6 per­cent in 2015 to 14 per­cent or 13 per­cent by the end of Mr. Duterte’s term in 2022.

“All women of re­pro­duc­tive age should be able to achieve their de­sired fam­ily size, their de- sired num­ber of chil­dren rather than hav­ing more chil­dren than they want or they can af­ford and pro­vide for ad­e­quately, and that is ex­actly the essence of the Re­spon­si­ble Par­ent­hood and Re­pro­duc­tive Health Law,” Per­nia said at a press brief­ing in Mala­cañang.

Mr. Duterte is­sued the or­der de­spite a re­strain­ing or­der from the Supreme Court stop­ping the gov­ern­ment from procur­ing and dis­tribut­ing con­tra­cep­tives.

The high court or­der has lim­ited the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the RH Law, Per­nia said.

Un­der EO 12, the Depart­ment of Health (DOH), the Com­mis­sion on Pop­u­la­tion and the Depart­ment of the In­te­rior and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment will work with lo­cal gov­ern­ments for the pro­vi­sion of con­tra­cep­tives and fam­ily plan­ning ser­vices.

The lo­cal gov­ern­ments, ac­cord­ing to the EO, should look for cou­ples and in­di­vid­u­als who want to limit the size of their fam­ily but can­not af­ford con­tra­cep­tives and pro­vide them with what they need.

The lo­cal gov­ern­ments, it said, can team up with non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions and pri­vate groups in or­der to pro­vide fam­ily plan­ning ser­vices.

They should also conduct com­mu­nity-based “de­mand gen­er­a­tion and re­fer­ral ac­tiv­i­ties” to see to it that qual­ity mod­ern fam­ily plan­ning in­for­ma­tion and ser­vices are avail­able.

The DOH will re­view the gaps in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the RH Law and is­sue or­ders and guide­lines needed to sup­port lo­cal gov­ern­ments and civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions in ensuring the avail­abil­ity of con­tra­cep­tives and fam­ily plan­ning ser­vices.

Other gov­ern­ment agen­cies were or­dered to sup­port EO 12. Com­mis­sion on Pop­u­la­tion Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Juan An­to­nio Perez III said the EO would not be con­trary to the Supreme Court tem­po­rary re­strain­ing or­der be­cause the court or­der cov­ered only sub­der­mal im­plants and not other con­tra­cep­tives, at least for now.

But if the court or­der would re­main in place in the next three to four years, the li­censes for other con­tra­cep­tives would ex­pire and the gov­ern­ment would not be able to pro­vide them, Perez said.

“Un­less the Supreme Court lifts the [tem­po­rary re­strain­ing or­der], the gov­ern­ment will be left with meth­ods like tubal lig­a­tion, va­sec­tomy and the nat­u­ral fam­ily plan­ning meth­ods. So the mod­ern meth­ods, which we call ‘ar­ti­fi­cial meth­ods,’ might have prob­lems,” he said.

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