RH Law Implementing Rules Signed

15 March 2013
Philippine legislators vote for the Reproductive Health Bill (RH) in Manila on December 17, 2012
Philippine legislators vote for the Reproductive Health Bill (RH) in Manila on December 17, 2012. Philippine Catholic leaders have vowed to overturn a birth control bill after lawmakers passed landmark legislation to make sex education and contraceptives more widely available

MANILA, Philippines --- The Implementing Rules and Regulation of Republic Act 10354, the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law of 2012, was signed yesterday in ceremonies led by the Department of Health at the Corazon Aquino Health Center in the Baseco compound, in Tondo, Manila.

"The RPRH law will empower women through informed choice and voluntarism, improve access to information, facilities and services, increased stability and sustainability of health policy across national and local government, institutionalize the partnerships between national and local governments, and recognize the important roles and contribution of civil society organizations, basic sectors, academe and private sector," said DOH Secretary Enrique T. Ona said.

The IRR mandates improved access to family planning services such as health service delivery, provision of mobile health clinics in remote and depressed areas, improvement of coverage of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on reproductive health services for the poor, hiring and training of skilled health professionals and continuous monitoring and review of Reproductive health programs.

The signing of the IRR comes a day after the proclamation of Pope Francis who had opposed the free distribution of contraceptives in Argentina in 2008.

But DOH Assistant Secretary Dr. Madeleine Valera said this was a coincidence as the signing had been previously agreed upon by the group that includes civil society organizations, faith-based groups, NGOs, doctors, women's groups and youth leaders.
The IRR "recognizes marriage as an inviolable social institution and the foundation of the family, which in turn is the foundation of the nation."

The IRR will also support the right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood; the right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development; the right of the family to a family living wage and income; and the right of families or family associations to participate in the planning and implementation of policies and programs that affect them.'

According to Valera, the IRR of the RPRH law was "thoroughly developed" to ensure important provisions of the law is captured in the IRR.

She said the IRR actively promotes Natural Family Planning.

The IRR ensures that a minor cannot automatically access family planning tools unless she has already given birth or that a parent or guardian or a government institution such as the DSWD has given her consent about it.

Section 4.06 of the IRR states: "Access to Family Planning Information and Services. No person shall be denied information and access to family planning services, whether natural or artificial: Provided, That minors will not be allowed access to modern methods of family planning without written consent from their parents or guardian/s except when the minor is already a parent or has had a miscarriage."