Supreme Court failed to defend charter, says 'pro-life' proponent

Posted at 04/14/2014 1:31 PM

MANILA – An opponent of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law on Monday said the Supreme Court (SC) ''failed to defend the constitution'' with its ruling on the controversial measure.

''Pro-life'' proponent George Balagtas said the members of the high court failed to defend the constitution by declaring the law as ''not constitutional'' while striking down several of its provisions.

Speaking to ANC, Balagtas said, ''the SC tried to give both sides something to chew on, something to cheer about. ....our feeling, my feeling personally at least, is the SC failed to defend the constitution because it gave each party something to wiggle out of."

Balagtas claimed the SC justices seemed to have acceded to what the Aquino administration wanted, against the backdrop of the removal of former SC Chief Justice Renato Corona via impeachment.

''We believe that the SC failed to protect the constitution. Very clearly, this [involved] a clear intimidation by the government. We believe this is a result of the Corona impeachment, that the justices do not want to make categorical statements that may be against the preference of the government,'' he said.

Former Congressman Edcel Lagman, one of the principal authors of the measure, belied this claim, saying this is merely a ''suspicion."

Balagtas also said that with the provision of the law mandating the government to provide contraceptives to the marginalized upheld, pharmaceutical companies have also become the ''big winners'' in the SC decision.

The SC has said the law is not unconstitutional except for provisions that ''require 'private health facilities and non-maternity specialty hospitals and hospitals owned and operated by a religious group to refer patients, not in an emergency or life-threatening case…to another health facility which is conveniently accessible''; and allow minors who have suffered miscarriage to have access to family planning without parental consent.

The high court also struck down provisions punishing a health care provider who will refuse/fail to disseminate information on reproductive health programs or refer a patient to another health care service provider; or a public official who will refuse to support or hinder the implementation of reproductive health programs.

Balagtas reiterated the anti-RH side's position that the removal of the mandatory provisions has practically rendered the law ''toothless''.

Lagman rejected the anti-RH side's assertion, saying the high court did not touch the core provisions of the law.

''We should not be fascinated by exceptions and forget to appreciate the rule. The rule is the SC said the law is [not unconstitutional] except for some provisions which are voided to provide respect to minority or differing views,'' he said.

Balagtas, meanwhile, said the fight against family planning measures which are opposed to church teachings will go on despite the SC decision.

''The fight has entered a critical phase. We will watch the way the budget is being spent,'' he said.