High court denies motion to lift hold on RH law

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02:25 AM April 3rd, 2013

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April 3rd, 2013 02:25 AM

BAGUIO CITY—The Supreme Court opened its annual summer session in this city on Tuesday by denying a motion for reconsideration to repeal the status quo ante order it had imposed on the reproductive health (RH) law .

Voting 10-4, the court sitting en banc denied the motion filed on March 25 by Akbayan chair Risa Hontiveros which sought to lift the 120-day status quo ante order that stopped the implementation of the RH law (Republic Act No. 10354).

Not yet implemented

The status quo ante order was issued on March 19, through a 10-5 vote. Status quo ante is the Latin phrase for “preserving the state of affairs” before something became the subject of debate or conflict. A status quo ante order requires all parties to treat RA 10354 as a measure that has not yet been implemented.

The order addressed up to six petitions that sought to stop the law’s implementation due to the RH law’s supposed constitutional infirmities. The court set oral arguments for June 18.

The petitions were filed by James Imbong, et al., Expedito Bugarin, Eduardo Olaguer and the Catholic Xybrspace Apostolate of the Philippines, Serve Life Cagayan de Oro City, et al., Task Force for Family and Life Visayas Inc. and Valeriano Avila, and Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc.

Mocks Filipino culture

They claimed RA 10354 “mocks the nation’s Filipino culture—noble and lofty in its values and holdings on life, motherhood and family life —now the fragile lifeblood of a treasured cultured that today stands solitary but proud in contrast to other nations.”

Hontiveros, who is running for senator under the administration coalition, Team PNoy, said the law did not violate the Constitution.

Her motion said the RH law would help the government stop maternal deaths and clarify misconceptions about reproductive health.

Hontiveros, in an earlier Inquirer report, said the new law does not legalize abortion, contrary to allegations of anti-RH advocates.

“[W]hile the petitioners mistakenly allege that RA 10354 will legalize abortion in the Philippines, a plain reading of the text of the said law makes it clear that abortion is expressly and repeatedly proscribed therein,” the motion said.

Lawyer Theodore Te, Supreme Court spokesperson, said the justices cast the same votes they did when the court issued the status quo ante order.

Only Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe failed to cast a vote because she was on official business and would join the court next week, Te said.

He said many of the significant cases calendared for summer would be addressed once Bernabe joined the justices here.

Bernabe had dissented from the majority that favored the status quo ante order, alongside Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo and Marvic Leonen.

This is the first summer session for Sereno as Chief Justice, as well as for the newest appointee, Leonen, who was born and raised in Baguio.

They were greeted by a freshly landscaped yard outside the court’s summer compound here, where rocks were arranged to display the phrases, “Baguio City” and “summer session.”

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