Archive for the ‘reproductive health’ Category

anti RH Law lawyers embarrass themselves at the Supreme Court

July 15, 2013 Leave a comment

we are printing in full here the article written by Oscar Franklin Tan published at the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

we think this was very well written article – it gave all the salient facts of the oral arguments at the SC on the RH Law in a very easy to read and easy to understand way. we are not a lawyer but it was very easy for us to understand it as the article very wisely put the legal logic in the proper sequence and the legalese reachable to the ordinary reader. you come out understanding all of it after reading the article.

RH: No case, Carpio shows


8:44 pm | Friday, July 12th, 2013
Lawyers seeking to invalidate the Reproductive Health Act bogged down in the first Supreme Court hearing on July 9 after failing to argue jurisdiction and misstating doctrine.

Former Sen. Francisco Tatad opened with a triple gamble. He framed the law as “imposing population control through state-mandated contraception.” He argued that it installed the government as official provider of contraception, which conflicts with its constitutional duty to protect the “sanctity of family life,” the “right of spouses to found a family according to their religious convictions” and the “life of the unborn from conception.” He thus hinged the anti-RH case solely on proving contraception violates the “life of the unborn.”

Tatad tripled the bet, arguing that the RH Act violates international law by preventing births and causing genocide, and that Congress failed to render truth and justice in passing the law. “Are there some things that cannot be legalized?” he quoted Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. In minutes, he tripled his burden with two extreme positions extraneous to the constitutional debate.

atty. maria concepcion noche

Second, Noche’s claim was much narrower than what her rhetoric suggested. She argued that the Constitution protects life from fertilization but some contraceptives prevent the fertilized ovum’s implantation in the uterus, which she considers abortion. The narrow claim cannot cover all RH Act drugs, undercutting her broad attack on a still unimplemented law. (She barely discussed the right to health, alleging in a sentence that abortifacients also cause cancer.)

Floundering under most questions, Noche was knocked out by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on the jurisdiction issue she ignored. He asked whether she objected to the RH Act’s use only of drugs that do not prevent implantation (precluding the need to decide whether life begins at conception or implantation). She did not. Carpio asked if she objected to the law’s use only of nonabortifacient devices. She did not. He pointed out that she thus had no case over which the Court should take jurisdiction.

Noche insisted that, regardless of the law’s text, which she appeared to have no disagreement with, Carpio should take “judicial notice” that some drugs are abortifacient. He sprang his coup de grace: This request admits the case was premature. Carpio, and Justices Mariano del Castillo and Marvic Leonen, reminded Noche that evidence regarding abortifacients should be presented to the Food and Drug Administration, not the Court which is not a “trier of facts” (a ground to decline jurisdiction).

Noche’s all-or-nothing wager on abortifacients hamstrung her even before Carpio’s knockout punch. She admitted to Justice Presbitero Velasco and others that she is not objecting to condoms and other contraceptives that prevent fertilization, thus conceding that the law is valid at least in the context of condoms and weakening her blanket attack. She also tied this wager to her reenactment of congressional debates on when life begins, and insisted that the constitutional commissioners did not intend to allow Congress to define this. Carpio responded that the framers intended only to preclude the termination of pregnancies and never discussed conception’s meaning.

Noche unnecessarily took several extreme positions. Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno asked if a lowly clerk of court who had several children and felt another pregnancy might endanger her life would violate the Constitution if she used birth control to preserve her health. Noche replied yes. Sereno gave pointed examples ranging from her impeachment if she suggested birth control to such a clerk to whether Filipino women have been violating the Constitution since 1987. Noche even presented the unborn as having the most fundamental constitutional right. Sereno made her read the entire paragraph aloud: “[The State] shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn….”

Justice Diosdado Peralta asked how Filipinos understood the word “conception,” and Noche gave a jaw-dropping reply: “I don’t think there’s a need to further consult the people on the meaning of the Constitution.” Peralta rebuked her, reminding her that it was the people who ratified the Constitution. Finally, Noche also asked Carpio to take judicial notice of medical journals which allegedly establish that life begins at fertilization. Carpio replied that several justices reviewed these and found medical opinion to be mixed, adding: “So if it is not settled in the medical profession, how do you expect us to rule?” Noche could only repeat her claim that constitutional-commission deliberations decided the issue (again, these are not a source of law).

Noche was unprepared for questions and, toward the end, simply fell into awkward silence when grilled by Carpio. Sereno also called her attention to noticeably long pauses during Sereno’s queries. Noche clearly misstated basic doctrine; she repeatedly pushed her central “legal basis” that the constitutional-commission deliberations determined that protection of life from the moment of conception means from the moment of fertilization—even after Peralta and Leonen reminded her that these deliberations are not binding law because the people ratified the Constitution, not its authors. When Leonen asked about “facial challenge,” the doctrine on general attack of a law, Noche was unfamiliar with it. Many times, she unresponsively repeated her speech, and Sereno at one point said, “I know your position, but you have not answered my question.”

Surprisingly, Noche claimed to Justice Lucas Bersamin that she was unfamiliar with spermicides. She also faltered when Leonen walked her through certain jurisdictional doctrines, highlighting he needed to satisfy his conscience that he was exercising legal, and not political, judgment.

Noche’s emotional tone distracted. At one point, she said RH Act author Rep. Edcel Lagman “conveniently redefined and reengineered” medical definitions to hold that life begins at implantation. She ended her speech passionately: “[The unborn] cannot even utter a word, or cry, or scream, or beg. … I now plead, your Honors, let the voice of the unborn be heard in the august halls of this supreme tribunal. Let their voice be yours.”

Her sole progress was having several justices agree with or be open to her argument that conception means fertilization, but Carpio already demonstrated the issue’s irrelevance. Bersamin drew laughter when he noted that Noche’s name is “Concepcion.” Small comfort given that she left jurisdiction—and thus her case—in grave doubt.

Oscar Franklin Tan (, Twitter @oscarfbtan) teaches constitutional law at the University of the East.
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Messaging 101 – how to turn a message to a boomerang, the “Team Tatay” answer

March 10, 2013 Leave a comment

in the news lately is the controversial poster put up by a Bacolod church – the “Team Buhay” (Team Life)  and “Team Patay” (Team Dead) posters. the posters contain a list of names of election candidates who voted yes and no to the RH Bill which was recently voted into a law.  the bacolod church is asking the parishioners to to vote for the  Team Buhay candidates who voted against the RH Bill and consequently not to vote for the candidates  who voted for the RH Bill who are listed under Team Patay.

this controversial poster has taken a lot of flak many. we agree with some of them, one is the church has transformed itself into a political party by endorsing certain candidates and not endorsing others.

this is no longer about religion or teachings about the church, this is about getting certain specific names of candidates not getting elected and elected. it does not talk about church teachings, all it talks about is names of candidates.

the COMELEC has asked the church to change this poster to which the church replied by challenging the COMELEC ruling in the supreme court.

but in the past days, activists in bacolod have fought by releasing their own list through text messages. this list is called the “Team Tatay” (Team Daddy) that has the names of priests and bishops who have fathered children.

read here :     ‘Team Tatay’ lists 5 Negros priests as fathers; Ay, ‘patay’! 

we think the term “Team Tatay” is an excellent case study in Messaging 101. it is a brilliant name that turns the Bacolod church’s terms of Team Buhay and Team Patay into a boomerang.

team tatay

“Team Tatay” goes straight to the heart of the issue the activists are bringing up where priests have lost the moral high ground on the issue as they themselves have committed “grave sins” by fathering children themselves. aside from that, the line is brilliant as it uses essentially the same words used by the bacolod church. it even rhymes with “Team Buhay” “Team Patay”, is  very easy to remember and very creative.

on strategy, clarity, on message and memorability are the key components of a brilliant messaging.

on twitter we had these questions:

photo (2)

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the “Team Buhay” and “Team Patay” posters at the Bacolod church

read : Bacolod diocese: No to these 6 Senate bets –>

maria ressa of interview with atty. imbong, lawyer for petitioners against the RH Law at the SC

January 3, 2013 1 comment

a few things:

  • atty. imbong keeps referring to the interviewer as “ressa” or in many parts as “riza”. the interviewer’s name is maria ressa.
  • the interview questions and answers are actually a rehash of the debates done in twitter on the rh bill specially those raised by the anti rh bill groups who claim to be devout catholics and to a large part those raised in the debates in the senate and congress also raised by the anti rh bill senators and congressmen.
  • the interview hardly touched on the points of law, arguments or merits raised by the petitioners against the RH Law at the SC.
  • in today’s interview maria ressa of had asked the following questions from the #gangsters
  • from popi sunga at around 2:50


  • ressa extends the invitation from #gangsters for a tweetup with atty imbong at around 5:25 of the 3rd video. ressa also says “guys, gotta get a name that is ano…”

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#gangsters celebrate rh bill passage into rh law – HOR champions attend

January 3, 2013 Leave a comment

RH Bill now RH Law, Republic Act No. 10354 – aquino signed the bill into law December 21, 2012

December 28, 2012 Leave a comment

representative edcel lagman has said president aquino signed the bill into law last december 21, 2012. but no announcement has been made by malacanang. in twitter, malacanang spokesperson abi valte has said the palace is neither denying or confirming that the rh bill has been signed into law. however has published a signed copy of the bill.

is something up?

rh law sigs

source :

MANILA, Philippines – As promised, the Philippines enters 2013 with a Reproductive Health law.

President Benigno Aquino III signed into law Republic Act No. 10354 or the “Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012” Friday last week, December 21, according to a copy obtained by Rappler. Malacañang is yet to issue a formal announcement.

It was signed without fanfare, confirmed House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II on Friday, December 28.

The RH law provides universal access to reproductive health care services and information, which do not prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum as determined by the Food and Drug Administration. It prioritizes poorer households as identified by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction.

A new law only takes effect 15 days after it is published in the Official Gazette or in at least two newspapers.

Below is a certified true copy of the signed measure:

source :

House Of Representsatives (HOR) Champions win on RH Bill – passed on 2nd reading

December 13, 2012 Leave a comment

RH Bill – tales of victory, apology and amendments

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

a few things happened yesterday at the House Of Representatives on the RH Bill (reproductive health bill) – the bill took a victory in congress when the anti rh bill congressmen were blocked by the house leadership and allowed the discussion to proceed on the rh bill. anti rh bill congressmen (and anti rh bill senators) have resorted to shameless delays and filibustering moves. but this time the house leadership finally did it’s job and got it going for the rh bill.

the end result was that the house has adapted the proposed amendments on the rh bill with no debate unlike what happened in the senate. this is the victory that the rh bill has claimed at the house.

read article here:

but that was not just what happened.

the other day, twitter was on fire when rh bill supporter rep. kimi conjuangco tweeted about her encounter with  majority floor leader (MFL) boyet gonzales when he apparently “threatened” conjuangco and told her to “shut up” on the rh bill. gonzales apparently also said that it was over for the rh bill in the current congress and should they just “repackage” it for the next congress.

read here : majority floor leader boyet gonzales “threatens” rep. kimi cojuangco to “keep your mouth shut” on rhbill

but a day did make a difference in this drama between cojuangco and gonzales. cojuangco after yesterday’s victory at the house tweeted this:

all is well that ends well – that can be applicable here. but we just wonder why cojuangco apologized to gonzales when the previous day she said gonzales has “threatened” her  and that from her tweets it was gonzales who had a few things to apologize to her for. this was quite a sudden change and in fact a complete reversal.

we suppose strange things happen in congress that us humans will never be able to understand.

we wondered what are the amendments that the house adapted. and this is where we are at on the rh bill.

New amendments

In a press statement, Lagman listed the amendments as the following:

1. The State guarantees public access to and relevant information and education on medically safe, legal, ethical, affordable, effective and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices and supplies which do not prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum as determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

2. The State shall likewise prioritize the needs of poor women and men in marginalized households as identified by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) and other government measures of identifying marginalization, who shall be voluntary beneficiaries of reproductive health care, services and supplies for free.

3. The State shall also provide funding support to promote modern-natural methods of family planning consistent with the needs of acceptors.

4. The State shall promote openness to life, provided that parents bring forth to the world only those children that they can raise in a truly humane way.

5. There shall be no demographic and population targets and the mitigation, promotion and/or stabilization of the population growth rate are incidental to the advancement of reproductive health and sustainable human development.

6. Family planning information and services shall include as a first priority making women of reproductive age fully aware of their respective fertility cycles.

7. The teaching of reproductive health and sexuality education shall be promoted and conducted with due deference to cultural, religious and ethical norms of various communities.

8. Flexibility in the teaching of reproductive health and sexuality education shall be accorded to sectarian schools within the provisions and parameters of the Section on age-appropriate mandatory reproductive health and sexuality education.

9. The FDA shall update the Philippine National Drug Formulary (PNDF) with respect to modern family planning products and supplies in accordance with standard medical practice.

The foregoing amendments are contained in the proposed substitute bill which was announced by Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales, Jr. in the plenary and distributed to all Members of the House.

First batch of amendments

1. Deletion of the provision on “Ideal Family Size” to assure critics that the bill does not impose a “two-child policy” like China’s “one-child policy”. The original version merely contemplates an ideal norm which is neither mandatory, compulsory nor punitive.

2. Deletion of the section on “Employer’s Responsibilities” to address concerns that a similar provision in Article 134 of the Labor Code is already adequate.

3. Deletion of the section on “Family Planning Supplies as Essential Medicines” to accommodate objections that such a prior classification cannot be made by law. In lieu of the protested provision, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is charged with the determination of the safety, efficacy and classification of modern family planning products and supplies pursuant to existing law.

4. Deletion of the prohibited act on malicious disinformation in order to fully guarantee the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion.

5. Assurance of funding support to promote modern natural methods of family planning like the Billings, Sympto-Thermal and Standard Days methods.

6. Hospitals owned and operated by a religious group are given the option not to provide “a full range of modern family planning methods” in order to further guarantee religious freedom.

7. Imposition of penalties to pharmaceutical companies, whether domestic or multi-national, which collude with government officials and employees in the purchase, procurement and distribution of modern family planning supplies, products and devices, and/or contribute to partisan political activities, in order to disabuse the minds of critics that there is a pharmaceutical lobby for the enactment of the RH bill.

8. Deletion of the provision making the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as the mandatory source for the acquisition and operation of the Mobile Health Care Service vehicles to respect the differing views of Congresspersons.

9. Emphasis that the bill is not a population control measure.

10. Parents are given the option not to allow their minor children to attend reproductive health and sexuality education classes to accord respect to religious convictions and beliefs. –

read :

there were a few things we learned from this incident:

  • there is a failure in the leadership of the House Of Representatives, the speaker of the house belmonte and majority floor leader boyet gonzales in marshaling the rh bill through congress. it is a failure as president noynoy aquino during the presidential election campaign and in the last SONA has said he supports the rh bill. belmonte and gonzales are aligned with aquino.
  • the other failure of belmonte and gonzales is their inability to get the congressmen to attend sessions in congress. the delay on the rh bill vote has been hampered very much by a lack of quorum on days when rh bill advocates wanted to take the bill up in congress. getting member to attend HOR sessions we think is one of the most basic responsibilities and duties of the house leadership.
  • the congressmen share the failings of the leadership on the responsibility of attending sessions in congress. as a taxpayer and citizen of the country, i am grossly disappointed that congressmen don’t seem to be doing their jobs. we know  that as they hardly attend sessions, so it seems.
  • the pro rh bill has the numbers in the house as shown from the vote that was taken adapting the amendments. that is, if there is a quorum.
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