PLCPD: It’s time to implement the RPRH Law

Baguio City, April 8—One year ago today, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law during its summer session in Baguio City by declaring the law “not unconstitutional” after hearing several petitions filed against it for more than one year.

Hailed as a landmark and historic law, RH Law took almost 14 years in the legislative mill before it was approved by the 15th Congress and signed by the President in December 2012. In late 2014, the Department of Health (DOH) created the National Implementation Team (NIT) for the RPRH Law. Headed by former DOH Secretary Esperanza Cabral, the NIT has never stopped working since.

Advocates fought tirelessly and passionately for the RPRH Law. It is now time for everyone to work together for its full and meaningful implementation.

Family Health Survey (FHS) 2011 reported that the country’s maternal mortality ratio is 221 deaths per 100,000 live births—a far cry from our national target of reducing it to 62 per 100,000 live births by 2015.

Among the most serious problems currently faced by the youth is teenage pregnancy. According to the 2013 National Health and Demographic Survey (NDHS), 11 percent of Filipino women aged 15 to 19 were already mothers while 2.6 percent were pregnant with their first child in 2011. Moreover, according to the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS 4), 32 percent of Filipino youth are sexually active; 78 percent of young people who have had premarital sex did not use any protection during their first time.

HIV cases in the country increase at a “fast and furious” rate, with 536 new cases diagnosed January 2015 (or 18 new cases per day) according to the HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP) January 2015 Report.

These are only few of the serious RH-related problems confronting the country. The full and meaningful implementation of the RPRH Law will contribute to addressing these.

Maternal and child health will be improved by reaching women and couples with unmet need for family planning and ensuring their access to family planning, and making sure that all births are attended by skilled birth attendants and are delivered in appropriate facilities that are able to provide at least basic emergency obstetric care.
Teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections may be prevented through serious information and education and public awareness programs, including age-appropriate sexuality and RH education in schools.

Funding for the measures mentioned above is guaranteed through the annual General Appropriations Act as provided by the law.

The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) commends the Department of Health, the NIT, and advocates from the civil society for their commitment to do right by the law. The organization likewise calls on local government officials and other stakeholders to do their share in the implementation of the law. For its part, PLCPD will continue its support for reproductive health through policy advocacy.

PLCPD is a voluntary organization of lawmakers from the House of Representatives and the Senate who work together and with other stakeholders in advocating policies conducive to advancing population and human development in the country. PLCPD and its members played an instrumental role in the campaign for the RPRH Law, from the filing of the first RH bill in 2001 to its enactment in 2012.