Press Release
On the launch of the RPRH Law Second Consolidated Report
June 22, 2016

Despite being a devoted Catholic country, the Department of Health (DOH) executed the first “full” implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law through its arms, the National Implementation Team (NIT), with the Commission on Population (POPCOM) as Secretariat.

“Because now is the time for us to shift away from advocacy and focus on service delivery. The NIT and Regional Implementation Team (RIT) in partnership with the civil society actually enhanced the implementation especially at the grassroots level because you just don’t only depend on government. We now include NGO (national government organization), civil society, and private providers. It’s actually helping each other to deliver for our people,” Health Secretary Janette Garin said in an interview. (Translated from a mix of Filipino and English)

Guided by the mandate stated in Section 21 of R.A. 10354 (Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012) and Rule 15 of its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), the DOH complied with the requirement to report the accomplishments of RPRH.

The implementation of the RPRH Law began in 2014 but it was this year that marks the full implementation since the law was declared mainly constitutional by the Supreme Court in April 2014.

There were five (5) key areas highlighted in the accomplishment report: (1) maternal, neonatal, child health, and nutrition, (2) family planning, (3) adolescent sexual reproductive health, (4) sexually-transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS, and (5) gender-based violence. This is the first time that the these areas were given focused attention because these are also the critical areas that were left unfinished as Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but continue as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030.

“First and foremost, when the family planning implant started, we see the demand and we have trained all the rural health physicians. That alone is a huge accomplishment. We’ve also seen that the awareness of people is beyond description and it was highly acceptable. We also have barangay birthing stations. That includes the equipment based on PhilHealth accreditation. And if we look at the whole picture, we have PhilHealth here, we have equipment here, and we have the LGU here. It makes services sustainable,” Garin said. (Translated from a mix of Filipino and English)

However, the law has limitations because of the temporary restraining order TRO issued by the Supreme Court addressed to DOH and Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) which restrained them from “(1) granting any and all pending applications for registration and/or recertification for reproductive products and supplies including contraceptive drugs and devices; and (2) procuring, selling, distributing, dispensing or administering, advertising and promoting the hormonal contraceptive ”Implanon” and “Implanon NXT.”

But the DOH initiate counteractions on the challenge of the TRO.

“What we did is we procured (implant) in advance for the next maybe one and a half years. At the same time, we’re pushing heaven and earth that that TRO will be lifted,” Garin noted.

However, the actions made by the DOH was temporary.

“I’m still very positive that the TRO will be lifted and the future of the law depends on the Supreme Court (SC) (…) That TRO is not only injustice to our mothers, to our families. It’s actually injustice to the Filipino people. The future of this country all depends on a good economy. And a good economy is dependent on a healthy population and an empowered population,” Garin said.

On the other hand, PhilHealth made sure that they still implement their mandates in accordance with the law.

“We did not consider the TRO as a challenge because we are not directly involved in giving the benefits. But we are not the ones who oppose. Of course, we are familiar with the TRO on certain services especially those given by public providers. We have adapted. We pay those that are not covered by the TRO like subdermal implants for the private providers. (…) It’s more of how the RH law was interpreted by the Supreme Court.  We just follow,” PhilHealth President and CEO Atty. Alexander Padilla said in an interview. (Translated from a mix of Filipino and English)

Lastly, the DOH recognizes the plan of decentralization of power in the country and the capability of the next administration in lifting the TRO.

“In terms of health, it will help. The Philippines is fragmented. There are smaller municipalities that find it difficult to focus on health. While the other municipalities and even cities have a lot of other concerns too other than health. It is spread too thinly. There is no focus,” Garin said.

“If the supreme court will not lift its TRO, we are looking forward to the next president who can have a huge influence on the Supreme Court, for them to sit down, think about the consequences to the mothers, and have the heart to really design on matters that are legal for the people and will have a legacy in this country,” she added.

On June 22, 2016, POPCOM will lead the unveiling of the 2015 RPRH Consolidated Accomplishment Report (popularized version) at the Century Park Hotel in Manila to different government agencies, civil society organizations, academe, development partners, and the media.