Ex-DoH chiefs asked SC to lift suspension of birth control law

Posted on May 11, 2013

Three former Health Secretaries yesterday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to immediately lift the suspension order on a controversial birth control law that has met stiff opposition from the Catholic Church.

Jaime Z. Galvez-Tan, Alberto G. Romualdez, Jr., and Esperanza I. Cabral on Friday filed a motion for intervention in the petitions filed by 10 Catholic Church-backed religious groups that seek to nullify Republic Act (RA) 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act.

RA 10354 requires government health centers to hand out free condoms and schools to teach sex education.

The former heads of the Department of Health argued that RA 10354 is “consistent with the constitutional right to privacy”, “in furtherance of the Philippines’s state obligations under international law”, “does not violate the freedom of religion”, and “does not violate the right to life.”

“It is respectfully prayed that the petitions be dismissed for lack of merit and the status quo ante order be lifted immediately,” read the 36-page motion.

Messrs. Galvez-Tan and Romualdez and Ms. Cabral said they “have a positive duty to educate the public on the matters relating to the promotion of health”, claiming that they represent the public’s interest.

On March 18, the SC, in a 10-5 decision, issued a four-month freeze order against RA 10354 and set oral arguments on the consolidated petitions against the law on June 18.

Catholic Church-backed religious groups have asked the high court to declare RA 10354 unconstitutional, citing provisions that promote promiscuity such as mandating the teaching of sex education in schools and use of contraceptives.

Also cited was the law’s alleged violation of the constitutional right to life and exercise of religious freedom.

Last month, senatorial candidate Ana Theresita Hontiveros-Baraquel also sought the lifting of the SQAO on the RH law by the SC but was denied.

The RH law was supposed to be implemented last March 31. -- Daryll Edisonn D. Saclag