SC trims RH Law issues down to three
With a big number of petitions, both opposing and supporting the controversial Republic Act No. 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, the Supreme Court has decided to cut down the issues to be tackled during oral arguments on July 9.
In a pre-oral argument conference at the Supreme Court in Manila last Thursday, the high court gathered all petitioners, respondents, and intervenors in the case to discuss ways to trim down the issues to be covered.
The conference was attended by Associate Justices Jose Catral Mendoza, Roberto Abad and Marvic Leonen.
In his proposal, Mendoza suggested that the issues surrounding the controversial law enacted by President Benigno Aquino III December last year be "trimmed" to three:
- Proscription against involuntary servitude/ equal protection clause;
- Right to life/freedom of religion/ natural law; and
- Freedom of speech/academic freedom.
The respondents and intervenors agreed with the justice's proposal but "the petitioners asked for more time to discuss among themselves the issues that they want to raise during the oral arguments," according to the SC Public Information Office.
"Thus, the Justices present decided to schedule another pre-oral argument session on June 13 (Thursday) at 2pm," the SC PIO added.
The three justices also required the petitioners to submit these proposed additional issues before June 11.
The oral argument for the RH cases is scheduled on July 9 at 2 p.m.
The oral argument was originally schedule for June 18, but the SC decided to push it back to July 9 "because of the many interventions that have been filed recently as well as several other petitions still coming in," PIO Chief Theodore Te earlier said.
There are currently 12 petitions seeking to nullify the RH Law, while six others are supporting the measure, including those filed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman; former Health secretaries Esperanza Cabral, Jaime Galvez-Tan, and Alberto Romualdez Jr.; Sen. Pia Cayetano; John De Venecia; Filipino Catholic Voices for Reproductive Health; and the Inter-faith Partnership for Responsible Parenthood Inc.
Opposing the law, meanwhile, are former Sen. Francisco Tatad and wife Maria Fenny Tatad, and lawyer Alan Paguia; James Imbong, son of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines legal counsel Jo Aurea Imbong, and his wife Lovely-Ann; Serve Life Cagayan de Oro City; Task Force for Family and Life Visayas Inc and Valeriano Avila; the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc.; Expedito Bugarin; and Eduardo Olaguer and the Catholic Xybrspace Apostolate of the Philippines.
Named respondents in the petitions were Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa Jr., Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. — Mark Merueñas/RSJ, GMA News