MANILA (Updated) -- Opponents of the recently signed Reproductive Health (RH) law asked the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday to nullify the measure for allegedly threatening the Filipino culture's value for life.
Filing on behalf of their minor children, James and Lovely Imbong said the law "mocks the nation's Filipino culture -- noble and lofty in its values and holdings on life, motherhood and family life -- now the fragile lifeblood of a treasured culture that today stands solitary but proud in contrast to other nations."
Joined by Catholic school Magnificat Child Development Center Inc., petitioners likewise asked the Court to review whether the law may stand on its own without the assailed provisions which run counter the Constitution, particularly Article 2, Section 12.
Section 2 states that: “The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the government.”
They claimed that in contrast with Article 2, Section 12, the RH law now commands the State to promote “openness to life, qualified by a reference to the couple’s ability to raise their intended child or children in a truly humane way.”
“This means that if a certain group of parents are not in a position to raise children in a ‘truly humane way,’ the State has a duty not to promote openness to life as regards such parents. This conclusion is reflective of the policy enunciated in different parts of the Act,” petitioners said.
“A plain reading of those provisions simply reveals the intentions of the Act to bring reproductive health care services within easy reach of the poor. By doing so, the poor become the primary targets of the State’s planned-parenthood policy -- a subtle way of telling the poor that the State will subsidize their right to have access to modern methods of family planning simply because they are poor,” the petition further read.
This policy of the government, the Imbongs said, contradicts Article 2, Section 9 of the Constitution that says “the State shall promote a just and dynamic social order that will ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation, and free the people from poverty through policies that provide adequate social services, promote full employment, a rising standard of living and an improved quality of life for all.”
They also alleged that the new law violates Article XV of the Constitution, which imposes on the government the duty to “strengthen (family’s) solidarity and actively promote its total development” and provides for “inviolable marriage” and “right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood.”
The couple added the law violates constitutional freedom of religion and expression of those who will continue to oppose it, and also creates doubtful or spurious rights called reproductive health rights.
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, and Education Secretary Armin Luistro were named respondents to the petition.
The measure, which was passed by Congress late last year after 14 years of disregard, became a law on December 21 through the signature of President Benigno Aquino III.
It is now officially known as Republic Act 10354 or the Act Providing for a National Policy on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health.
The Catholic Church earlier said that it will support any individual or group that will file a case against the law because the mandate to promote the use of artificial contraceptives as a family planning method is supposedly anti-life.
Incidentally, James is a son of lawyer Jo Imbong, legal counsel of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Pro-RH lawmakers led by Albay Representative Edcel Lagman had already expressed confidence that the justices will uphold the law, saying it has been "cleansed of any constitutional infirmity."
According to its framers, the law aims to accomplish the Philippines' commitment to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), such as lowering the infant and and maternal fatalities and eradicating extreme hunger and poverty.
Meantime, the CBCP now appears bent on making accountable those who pushed for the passage of the RH bill into law.
"This is a wake-up call to Catholic voters for them to choose the right leaders who will truly represent their beliefs,” said CBCP secretary general Monsignor Joselito Asis.
In his New Year message, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma called on Catholics to seek guidance from the Lord as the country nears the midterm elections in May. (Virgil Lopez/JCV/HDT/Sunnex)