POPCOM, RH advocates urge Supreme Court to lift TRO on contraceptives

MANILA — The Commission on Population (POPCOM) on Friday joined more than 100 women and men in submitting to the Supreme Court (SC) copies of a petition signed by 300,000 women, urging the high court to lift the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that many fear would result in the loss of access to family planning commodities.

POPCOM executive director, Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III; Elizabeth Angsioco, chair of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines; Johnny Chua of the Catholics for RH (CFRH); and other advocates of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law, entered the gates of the SC before noon, carrying copies of the petition.

In the transmittal letter of the petition, Perez appealed on behalf of all women,and their families for the lifting of the TRO.

“We, together with the more than 300,000 signatories of the attached #LiftTRO petition, are appealing to the High Court to hear our voices and grant our appeal as contained in said petition,” Perez said in the letter.

Angsioco on the other hand described the TRO as “Krisis ng Matris”, noting that the TRO can affect maternal and infant deaths, and reinforce the continuous cycle of poverty.

She emphasized that the RPRH Law guarantees universal access to all methods of modern contraception, comprehensive sexuality education and maternal and child care.

In a press briefing that followed at Max’s Restaurant in Ma. Orosa St., Manila, the advocates expressed their fear that letting the TRO stand could lead to a rise in unintended pregnancies, which in turn could result in induced abortions and maternal deaths.

They also argued that the TRO limits the choices of women, which is contrary to what the RPRH Law provides.

In June 2015, the SC issued a TRO directing the Department of Health (DOH) and its agents to “temporarily stop procuring, selling, distributing, dispensing or administering, advertising and promoting” the hormonal contraceptives, Implanon and Implanon NXT.

In a subsequent decision in August 2015, the TRO also prohibited the DOH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from registering and re-certifying contraceptives.

As a result, 15 certificates of product registration (CPR) expired last year, and 10 more are set to expire this month, leaving only 23 contraceptives available to the public.

By 2020, it is feared that no contraceptive could be procured from the market. This also means that CPR expirations will lead to a total phase-out of family planning (FP) commodities.

”Without FP commodities, the country’s family planning program will be put to a halt,” said Perez. Leilani Junio/PNA-northboundasia.com