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Sereno: No TRO issued vs. RH law, all contraceptive implants

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno clarified on Thursday that the Supreme Court (SC) only stopped the registration, procurement and distribution of two contraceptive implants believed to be abortifacients by pro-life groups.

Responding to President Rodrigo Duterte's remarks during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, Sereno denied the SC has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law.

"What has been issued was a TRO against two specific contraceptives regulated under the RH Law. This pertains to two implants--Implanon and Implanon NXT," she said.

The stay order was issued by the SC Second Division following a petition filed by the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc.

"As clearly stated in the decision dated August 24, 2016 and again in its April 26, 2017 decision denying the motion for reconsideration, the TRO is limited to only those implants," Sereno said.

"By the express terms of the Court's decisions, there is no TRO against the implementation of the RH Law or all contraceptive implants."

She said the reason why the stay order has not yet been lifted is not with the SC but with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to the high court, it could not lift the TRO it issued in June 2015 prior to the summary hearing to be conducted by the FDA on safety, efficacy, quality, and non-abortiveness of the contraceptive products.

"To grant its prayer to lift the TRO would be premature and presumptuous. Any declaration by the Court at this time would have no basis because the FDA, which has the mandate and expertise on the matter, has to first resolve the controversy pending before its Office," the April decision read.

AFFP said the implants, which prevent ovulation for three years, have abortifacient features which the FDA allegedly approved without consulting the public.

"It never meant to enjoin the processing of the entire gamut of family planning supplies that have been declared as unquestionably non-abortifacient. Moreover, the injunction issued by the Court was only subject to the condition that the respondents afford the petitioners a genuine opportunity to their right to due process," stated the ruling penned by Associate Justice Jose Mendoza.

In his speech, Duterte batted for full implementation of the RH Law as he slammed the issuance of TROs on government projects as a "bane to efficiency."

"May nag-file sa inyo sa Supreme Court, nag-issue kayo ng TRO. In the meantime ang gobyerno nagbili ng medisina, mga pills, it was not a reckless purchase, it was preparation in the implementation of law. Medicines will expire next month," Duterte said.

"I am not for abortion, I am not for birth control, but I am for the freedom of the Filipino family to decide," he added.

The SC declared the RH Law constitutional in April 2014. — RSJ, GMA News