Pimentel: RH law violates Local Government CodeBy Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — Former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., is asking the Supreme Court to “abort” and “get rid” of the controversial Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RH) law as he appealed for it to extend the effectivity of the status quo ante order that will expire on Wednesday.
Pimentel was supposed to be among four anti-RH law speakers in the oral arguments set by the high court last week. But the former senator who authored the Local Government Code and was supposed to argue why the RH law violated the autonomy of local governments, decided to file a legal brief instead to give more time for his colleagues to argue against the constitutionality of the RH law.
In his 29-page memorandum to the high court which he filed on July 9, Pimentel admitted that the provisions of the Local Government Code was “not necessarily the strongest conceptual challenge” against the RH law but more so the constitutional provisions that assert the “life begins upon conception.”
Still in his arguments on why the RH law would violate the autonomy of local governments as well as the autonomy of Muslim Mindanao, Pimentel said the law had provisions forcing local governments to use their personnel, their resources and revenues in order to implement and promote the law.
Pimentel cited six provisions in the RH law that he said “intrude into the domains” of local and regional governments as set by the Local Government Code and the Organic Act of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.
These included provisions that will “encourage” LGUs to hire nurses and midwives; train barangay (village) workers and other volunteers to promote reproductive health; oblige them to remove barriers to reproductive health services for persons with disabilities; and initiate and sustain media campaigns promoting RH with the Department of Health, among others.
“By requiring local and regional governments to implement the law, those units of government are made to pay –at least, for a portion of the expenses needed –for the delivery of reproductive health services which are an integral part of the health functions of government that had already been devolved to them,” he said, noting that local and regional governments have been made to “pay for something not of their own making.”
“Thus, the RH law thrashes the autonomy that the local and regional governments are supposed to enjoy under Article X of the Constitution, especially on the use of their own personnel, taxes and resources for purposes of local and regional governance,” Pimentel added.
In his memorandum, Pimentel called the RH law a population control program because it would promote the use of “harmful abortificacients” in the guise of promoting the health of mothers and the unborn child.
He also said the law would pave the way for same sex marriages because it “redefines the sexual mores of the country.”
Pimentel took exception to the law’s use of “gender” instead of `sex’ as the “principal characteristic that distinguishes woman from man.”
“By fudging the natural sexual characteristics that distinguish women from men, the RH law shakes the constitutional bases that make marriage a sacred inviolable social institution, and the family as the foundation of a nation,” he said.
“Hence it is not far-fetched that same-sex marriages — now legal in 14 countries and in 10 states in the United States — would become a reality in the country– in the next generation — and destroy our deep-seated cultural beliefs now embodied in the Constitution dealing with marriage and family on which the structure of society is founded,” Pimentel said.
In his prayer, Pimentel sought for the high court to “abort, abrogate and put to the torch in this crematorium of unconstitutional legislations, illegal enactment, and oppressive policies.”
In the meantime, he also asked the high court to extend its earlier order stopping the implementation of the RH law pending its resolution of the petitions opposing the law. The status quo ante order issued by the high court last March was due to expire on July 17 but in Pimentel’s memorandum, he said that SQA would expire on July 16.
The high court will hold second round of oral arguments on the RH law on July 23.