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Hontiveros laments setbacks in RH law implementation

Senator Risa Hontiveros lamented on Tuesday the setbacks to the full implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law, a controversial measure passed by the previous administration four years ago amid Catholic Church opposition.

Hontiveros cited the Supreme Court's temporary restraining order on the health department's distribution and sale of contraceptive implants and the P1-billion budget slash for procurement of family planning commodities for this year.

"The RH Law is a landmark piece of legislation that solidified reproductive health rights and choices. However, without the necessary funding, no matter how historic it is, the law will fail to provide universal access to family planning," she said in a press conference.

Due to the budget cut, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the government’s purchases of family planning commodities such as condoms and pills must be sourced from the Department of Health's share in revenues from sin taxes or the President’s Contingent Fund, if not from donations from foreign agencies.  

Lagman is one of the principal authors of the RH Law, which the SC declared constitutional in 2014.

This year, the budget for Family Health and Responsible Parenthood under the Department of Health was cut by P1 billion from the P3.27 billion proposed by the agency.

Hontiveros, chairman of the Senate committee on women, vowed there would be no budget cut for 2017 as the DOH proposed P4.26 billion, up 46.4 percent from this year's outlay.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier threw his full support for the RH Law in his first State of the Nation Address “so that couples especially the poor will have freedom of informed choice on the number and spacing of children.”  

Duterte said with the right number and spacing of their children, parents “can adequately care and provide for [them], eventually making them more productive members of the labor force.” 

The RH Law is being opposed by Catholic officials because the Catholic faith only accepts natural family planning methods. The RH Law promotes both natural and artificial family planning methods. — VVP, GMA News