PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed the executive order (EO) on the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RP-RH) Law.

This was revealed by National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) director general Ernesto Pernia in a press conference in Malacañang Wednesday.

Pernia said the President signed the EO last Monday, in order to ensure that the government will be able to "meet the zero-unmet need for family planning."

Pernia said the executive order was primarily focused on letting couples "achieve the desired number of children rather than have more children they want or afford."

This way, Pernia said the government would also be able to bring down the poverty rate by 14 percent by the end of the Duterte administration.

"The EO is really for modern family planning services, contraceptives to be adopted by women in order for them to achieve their desired number of children," Pernia said.

"If we don't implement the RP-RH Law fully, then we're unable to meet the poverty reduction target," he added.

Pernia added that EO on RP-RH Law would lower maternal mortality rate and teenage pregnancy.

He noted that to date, there are about 231 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

RP-RH Law aims to guarantee the universal access to methods of contraception, fertility control, sexual education, and maternal care.

The Supreme Court (SC) delayed the implementation of the law in March 2013 following opposition from pro-life group. However, it ruled in April 2014 that the law was "not unconstitutional."

Pernia said the government is expecting that the SC would lift the temporary restraining order it issued against two key contraception medicines, in order to fully implement the RP-RH Law.

"In the government, we think differently, just the opposite. We think it's pro-life, pro-children," he said. "With this EO from the President, we hope the SC will act expeditiously in terms of lifting the TRO." (Sunnex)