MANILA, Philippines — Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman has expressed fears the reproductive health (RH) law may not be effectively implemented if it is not be given the proper appropriation in the national budget.
“Funding will always be a contentious battleground in the implementation of the RH law. Without adequate appropriation, the RH law will be reduced to a fossilized policy, a Jurassic shibboleth,” said Lagman in a speech at a gathering last week of the Forum for Family Planning and Development, which recognized him as its 7th Eminent Person for his role in the RH law’s passage.
Lagman was the RH law’s main author in the House of Representatives.
He said that to guarantee that the law would receive proper funding and implementation, RH advocates must support congressional candidates supportive of the measure.
“It is our common concern to have pro-RH legislators elected to the House of Representatives and the Senate to assure a continuing and requisite appropriation for the RH law. The threat of rejection at the polls must be obliterated by a positive campaign for electoral mandates for kindred and qualified candidates,” he said.
Under the RH law, the budget for its implementation would come from the funding for the RH, family planning and responsible parenthood programs under the Department of Health (DOH) and other concerned agencies.
Additional funds to upgrade obstetric and newborn facilities, the training and deployment of skilled health providers, other related services and family planning commodity requirements would have to be included in the general appropriations in subsequent years. The national and local governments’ gender and development funds may also be used to implement the RH law.
One of the contentions of RH law critics is that the money to be spent on its programs, such as the purchase of contraceptives, would be better used on other public services.
Lagman also said RH advocates must keep tabs on the constitutional challenges pending in the Supreme Court against the law, the promulgation of the law’s implementing rules and regulations, and the law’s faithful implementation.
The DOH leads the committee that will draft the implementing rules and regulations, with the support of nongovernment organizations.
With Health Secretary Enrique Ona and RH advocate groups behind them, Lagman does not think the RH law would “depreciate” after the promulgation of the implementing rules and regulations.
“We have an outstandingly good law which deserves a successful, an errant-less implementation. We, who shepherded the enactment of the reproductive health law, must oversee its faithful implementation,” he said.
The RH law seeks to distribute contraceptives and make other family planning methods available for free, giving priority to the poor.
It also provides for age-appropriate mandatory reproductive health and sexuality education in the public schools.