Santiago on RH decision: It’s ‘triumph of reason over superstition’
MANILA, Philippines – While ecstatic over the Supreme Court’s decision that declared the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) law constitutional, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago threw her support behind any move to file a motion for reconsideration (MR) on several provisions that were struck down by the court.
“Thank you, Supreme Court! I love you, because you have faced the fears of a nation, and swept them away like cobwebs,” said Santiago, a strong advocate of the law, in a statement on Tuesday.
Santiago described the SC opinion, to quote a landmark case, was a “decision upon clashing interests resolved exclusively by the force of reason, according to law, without the power of armies, the weight of patronage, or imposing pomp.”
“In short, it is a triumph of reason over superstition,” she said.
Santiago was also confident that the high tribunal would reconsider its decision to strike down several provisions of the law as she expressed support behind any move to appeal the ruling on the said provisions.
She indicated that an MR on the provisions struck down by the court had a good chance, noting that the law “enjoys a presumption of constitutionality, based on the respect of the judiciary for the legislature; the presumption of constitutionality dictates that doubt should be resolved in favor of the law; and that the Court should reconcile the law with the Constitution.
“With respect to the provisions that did not pass muster, the Court should have granted to Congress the presumption of good faith and the presumption that legislative determination of factual issues is correct,” said Santiago.
“Very humbly, I emphasize that the burden of proof lies on the party who alleges unconstitutionality,” she added.
In the eight provisions, Santiago said, the petitioners failed to discharge this burden.
“It is not entirely clear what quantum of proof was applied by the Court to overcome the presumption of constitutionality,” she said.
“I think that in many instances, petitioners failed to show that the eight provisions are unconstitutional; instead, petitioners depended only on the argument that there was reasonable, substantial, or rational doubt. But I very respectfully emphasize the rule that mere preponderance of evidence is not enough.”
“Hence, I support with full enthusiasm the move to file motions for reconsideration. I am fairly confident that a more exhaustive study of the principles of constitutional law will support a reconsideration of all eight provisions,” the senator added.
Senate President Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, banded the SC ruling a “big victory for the Filipino people who had patiently waited for 14 long years for the passage of the RH law.”
“While there are some provisions which could be crucial to the effective implementation of the law but have been stricken down, we are pleased that the Supreme Court has affirmed the right of the government and its citizens to seek advancements of reproductive health policies in the country,” Drilon said in a separate statement.
“I personally consider the RH law as one of the landmark and most pressing legislations passed in the 15th Congress which would not have been possible without the resolve shown by the members of the previous Congress amidst their differences, the vigilance demonstrated by its staunch advocates amidst strong pressure, and the strong political will of the Aquino administration,” he said.
With the SC’s ruling, Drilon said the government’s hands are all free to attend fully to the needs for maternal care of millions of mothers, especially those living in the far-flung areas where basic healthcare is proven insufficient.
The Senate, he said, will exercise its oversight function over the implementation of the law “to see to it that its desired outputs will be achieved efficiently and that its promised fruits will be felt by the Filipino people in a timely manner.”
“With the implementation of the RH law, our eyes should be on agencies tasked to implement it, specifically the Department of Health, to ensure that the much-needed programs that would prevent maternal deaths and other health complications affecting women, wives and mothers in the country will be put into operation,” Drilon added.
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