No lifting of TRO on contraceptive implants, says SC
The Supreme Court has denied the government’s request to lift the restraining order on the procurement, selling, distributing, dispensing, administering and promoting contraceptive implants.
A restraining order was issued in July last year by the high court’s second division following a petition filed by the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc. (Alfi) who claimed that the Department of Health’s (DOH) implemented Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (RH Law) disregarded due process and considered a grave abuse of discretion.
Alfi also wants a blanket restraining order not only for hormonal contraceptive “Implanon” and “Implanon NXT” but also for other similar products.
The DOH, through the Office of the Solicitor General, told the high court that the restraining order should be lifted because the restraint would result in the depleted supply of contraceptive drugs and devices in both accredited public health facilities and in the commercial market.
It added that government funds will also go to waste because huge quantities of Implanon and Implanon NXT will expire and yet will still be in government warehouses.
But the high court said the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) still has to conduct a hearing on Alfi’s opposition to the said drugs.
“To lift the TRO (temporary restraining order) at this time would be to grant a motion for execution before a trial. The Court emphasized that the TRO did not mean that the FDA should stop fulfilling its mandate to test, analyze and scrutinize and inspect drugs and devices,” high court’s Information Chief Atty. Theodore Te said at a press conference.
The high court explained that the subject of the TRO is the granting of certification or recertification of contraceptive drugs without giving Alfi the opportunity to air its objections. Also covered by the TRO is the distribution and administration of Implanon and Implanon NXT and similar contraceptives until they are determined to be safe.
In the same ruling, the high court also ordered the DOH and the FDA to come up with guidelines, procedures in the screening, evaluation, approval, purchase and distribution of contraceptive drugs, hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and other safe, legal, non-abortifacient family planning products and supplies.
The high court told DOH and FDA to observe the basic requirements of due process for those opposing the purchase, distribution of the said products, publication and notice of hearing and follow the standard laid down under the constitution and RH Law that what should be allowed are those products “that do not harm or destroy the life of the unborn from conception/fertilization.”
“The rules and regulations or guidelines shall provide sufficient details as to the manner by which said product and supply shall be strictly regulated in order that they will not be used as an abortifacient and in order to sufficiently safeguard the right to life of the unborn,” the high court added.
The high court also ordered the government to amend the implementing rules and regulations to conform to its decision declaring the RH Law constitutional.
In 2014, the high court ruled that the RH Law is “not unconstitutional.”
In its ruling, it declared unconstitutional eight of the law’s provisions. JE/rga