Lift TRO on RH, Speaker asks SC
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has appealed to the Supreme Court to lift its temporary restraining order (TRO) on the full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law and to rule on the issue once and for all.
He echoed a similar call by the opposition bloc in the House of Representatives led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, who had likewise urged the high court to lift the TRO blocking the Department of Health (DOH) from buying and distributing family planning devices, including contraceptive implants.
“That’s right. Even myself, I’m appealing [too],” Alvarez told reporters in an interview.
The House leader clarified that he did not wish to interfere or try to influence the high court in its decisions due to the separation of powers.
“I’m only appealing to them so that the RH can finally be implemented because our country sorely needs it,” Alvarez said.
In September, the high tribunal denied the motion of the DOH to lift the TRO, and instead remanded the case to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to check if the products had abortifacient side effects.
In 2015, the high court stopped the DOH’s program for the distribution and sale of contraceptive implants that can prevent pregnancies for up to three years.
Under the same ruling, the court also barred the FDA from “granting any and all pending application for reproductive products and supplies, including contraceptive drugs and devices.”
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Lagman warned that the high court’s decision had far-reaching implications not only for contraceptive devices but on other food and drugs.
He said the decision meant that the simple administrative process in the registration of food and drugs would become longer and much more complicated with the FDA assuming the responsibility of a quasi-judicial body.
The Commission on Population (PopCom) has warned that as a result of the prohibition on the FDA, almost 90 percent of contraceptive brands would no longer be available by 2018, unless the TRO is lifted.
This, according to PopCom, would render the RH Law ineffective.
“Imagine, Malaysia with the same land area as the Philippines has only 32 million people,” Alvarez said. “As for us, 110 million, more or less, people. How can we lift them from poverty? That is a very difficult task,” he said.
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