President Rodrigo Duterte signed an Executive Order aimed at ensuring that the government meet the needs of Filipino families for appropriate family planning support.
The full title of Executive Order No. 12 is “Attaining and Sustaining Zero Unmet Need for Modern Family Planning Through the Strict Implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, Providing Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes.”
In a press briefing in Malacañan on Thursday, January 11, National Economic and Development Authority director general Ernesto Pernia said the signing of the EO would allow women of reproductive age to achieve their desired family size and number of children rather than having more children than they want or they can afford and provide for adequately.
He said this is exactly the essence of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law Act (RPRH Law), the implementation of which was hindered by a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC).
With the issuance of the EO, Pernia said they hope that the Supreme Court will act expeditiously in lifting the TRO.
Pernia said that while pro-life groups oppose the use of contraceptives, the government thinks differently, adding that the law is pro-life, pro-women, and pro-economic development.
“So the link between family planning or the implementation of the RPRH law is critical — the link between family planning and economic development, socio-economic development is quite intimate,” he said.
The government targets to reduce poverty from 21.6 percent as of 2015, to 14 or even 13 percent by the end of the Duterte administration, Pernia said.
Pernia also said that while the TRO is still in effect, the issuance of the EO is beneficial because it allows local governments to get around with the TRO by letting NGOs implement the RPRH Law since the private sector is not covered by the SC ruling.
For his part, Commission on Population (POPCOM) executive director Dr. Juan Antonio Perez said the President is calling on the three major agencies: DOH, DILG and POPCOM to assist local governments in implementing the RPRH Law by mapping out and identifying women who have a need for family planning.
“So there is a plan to, in the next six months for local governments to go out in the field, to do house-to-house visits, identify those in need of family planning, working with all these agencies,” Perez said.
Perez added that President Duterte wants agencies to support at least the two million women in the poorest sector for them to get family planning services and to reach at least six million women by the end of the administration.