For the next government, a citizen’s wish list

To the Representative to the House for Mandaluyong City:

I am Antonio A Hilario, resident of this city.

I am looking forward to Mr Duterte leaving office, now. It occurs to me that this is going to leave a sour taste in the mouth for the two-fifths of the electorate that managed to get their wish – a leader who promised straight talk, and fast, far-ranging solutions to complex problems.

 I count myself part of the opposition to Duterte’s “leadership,” if you could call it that. Apart from wanting a President who thinks clearly and deeply about things that matter to me, what do I want from the government that will supplant this one?
1. An election reform law in two parts: Modify the Omnibus Election Code to institutionalize a runoff mechanism to reduce a multiway Presidential race to a choice between two leading candidates. Let’s not do this again – permit a candidate chosen by a non-majority to impose a wildly unreal platform of governance on the entire country. And some sort of law that will attenuate the impact, if not remove the possibility, of forming a legislative supermajority like we saw with the 17th Congress. I don’t know if that’s a good idea, let alone how it can be done.
2. Immediately define a program to improve the Local Government Code to address both a) devolution of political and fiscal authority, and b) improvement of NG project budgeting for provincial infra development. We learned that a periodic review of the LGC needed to be done, was mandated to be done; the next government will just please see to it.
3. I want the banking system to extend credit to startup manufacturing enterprises that can be grown from Kickstarter– or Crowd Supply-like projects by Filipinos. I want our existing export industry to be mandated to support these enterprises. The idea is to promote what the previous generation called “high-tech industry” including not just electronics and communcation technology, but also maybe biotech and software engineering, and I.T. security. For example, it would be nice for companies like Mesco, who manufacture and market machine tools, be given tax credits for providing low-cost consulting and machining/manufacturing support for a bunch of inexperienced designers who want to bring a design to market. That’s going to take a regulatory framework I don’t feel is present today.
The circuit layout I cannot manufacture
The 3-axis desktop mill I’ve yet to complete


4. I want the Department of Justice and Commission on Human Rights to institute a program to support litigation by victims of tokhang against the State, for the utterly irresponsible conduct of the present government’s “drug war” campaign. The country must make amends, by means including indemnification, to citizens harmed by this policy.
5. I want this problem of food security to go away: Government has to find a way to support ALL the smallholder food farmers to improve their efficiency and make rice and vegetable farms viable sources of income.
6. I want a fair share of the benefit and responsibility of using the West Philippine Sea, and for Government to work with co-claimants to put together a unified diplomatic front against China’s expansionism.
7. I want political party platforms, and not the whims of powerful, unaccountable patrons fronted by attractive personalities, become the basis for NG programs. This inescapably means that private campaign funding must become more strongly regulated, and possibly that money for e.g. airtime on commercial broadcast stations, indirect funding of political party operations (by tax credit, maybe) has to come from the public coffers.
8. I never ever want to hear again, the line that “the Constitution is trash”, come from the mouth of any Filipino of voting age, who has absolutely no argument to back that up. I put this to the secondary schools to have to fix. There’s only so much that an individual citizen can do to help make the Constitution accessible to others, and it is not enough to merely publish the Constitution online.
9. A president who isn’t such a fucking jackass (and deserved special mention in my privacy policy), who doesn’t represent the worst of the politics and mindset of the 70s – that would be good to have, along with a new government.
– Some thoughts arising from first reading, a couple of days back, Ateneo de Manila Lecturer Segundo E Romero‘s post on the idea of a shadow cabinet, a shadow government.

Christian S. Monsod at the Senate Hearing on the Puno Constitution

Senate Hearing on the Puno Constitution

July 17, 2018

The surveys of both SWS and Pulse Asia, while sometimes contradictory due to differences on polling questions, agree that about 74% of Filipinos admit to knowing nothing or very little about the Constitution. Thus, I ask for your indulgence to allow me a few minutes to say something about it, as well as the context in which charter change is being proposed. As someone said, text without context is pretext.

The inspiration of the 1987 Constitution was EDSA. But EDSA was more than the restoration of democracy through peaceful means. – it was also the promise of a new social order, especially to the poor, with radical changes, but through democratic means.

Before its writing, consultations nationwide were held to listen to the people and they overwhelmingly preferred the stability of familiar structures – a democratic, representative, unitary presidential system, with checks and balances and separation of powers. And, they wanted the power to directly vote for and have access to their president. But from the experience of the Marcos regime, they also wanted safeguards against the return of authoritarianism. It was not only the brutality in the violation of human rights, but the economic disaster of 1983 with total powers, or more accurately because of total powers, from which we did not recover until 2002 to the detriment of the poor. The people also wanted social justice and wanted our national destiny to be firmly and safely placed on Filipinos themselves.

Thus, there are three central themes of our Constitution – first, social justice and human rights with the poor as the center of development, second, never again to authoritarianism in any form and third, never again to any foreign domination of our economy like parity rights and amendments to the 1935 Constitution where we could not even change our exchange rate without the approval of the U.S. President. Which resulted in a foreign exchange crisis in the early fifties.

All these themes were, in many ways, counter-cultural and therefore “radical” because our history is marked by a tendency to give up powers to colonizers and dictators, of deferring to so-called “strong” leaders, of allowing big business to rule our economy and of an over-dependence of the poor on rich landowners for their basic necessities.

The 1987 Constitution can be viewed as affirmative action for our democracy – to correct the shortcomings of previous constitutions, to address the “wrongs” of history and to empower and enable the ordinary Filipino to rise above himself. It provides a system that should correct itself when it theatens to get out of control. And in that process of correction, the role of the people is critical because “sovereignty resides in the people”.

The 1987 Constitution was the first time that we spoke to the world as a truly independent and democratic Filipino nation. It is a document that had not been imposed on us by any colonial power or by a dictatorship.

The 1987 Constitution cut the umbilical cord of the 1935 and 1973 constitutions to the United States Constitution, which gives primacy to civil and political rights because it is a country of immigrants who all started from the same position and only wanted to be free from autocracy.

Our Constitution gives social and economic rights equal primacy with civil and political rights because we are a country of inequalities from the colonial days to the present where the starting positions of the rich and the poor are not equal. Social Justice and human rights are about the adjustment of these starting positions. It is not only a central theme, but the heart, of the Constitution.

This is the Constitution under threat of overhaul because it is blamed as the source of our problems today. I submit that we have largely failed in human development not because of the Constitution but because we have not fully implemented it. No thanks to our legislators who slept on the job for 30 years.. These are the people who want to re-write the Constitution. The question to the Puno constitution and other versions and to the ConAss itself is: are the proposed revisions going to depart from or do away with these three central themes of the 1987 Constitution?

In operational terms and in relation to federalism as a means to the ultimate goals we seek, i.e. address mass poverty, gross inequalities and underdevelopment of outlying areas, I quote/paraphrase from the Philippine Human Development Report 2012-2013:

“….Human development is about the welfare of people, not the development of places. The nature of economic development is uneven. It is not about bringing jobs to people but about closing the distance between the people and the jobs by giving people the capabiity and mobility to choose where to go. But the principle is different when it comes to quality education and quality health care. Breaking the vicious cycle of poverty of the young means bringing these services to wherever they are regardless of the cost. That is what human development is about.,,,,,,”

We might also note that if a federal (or federal-parliamentary) system is critical to our future, why is there no mention of it at all in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 and Ambisyon2040, launched by President Duterte on October 11, 2016, including the means to achieve on a year to year basis its Results Matrices with about 300 targets?

The Philippine Development Plan also addresses the problem of unequal development in our country that the President talks about, with what is called the NSS (National Spatial Strategy) to maximize the benefits of what economists call economic agglomeration.

In other words, the design of government interventions to achieve development outcomes does not require a shift to a federal (or federal-parliamentary) system.

This is not the time to go into details, but my answer to the question with regard to the Puno Commission is a definite yes – that it departs from or does away with the central themes of the 1987 Constitution.

The list of questionable provisions is rather long but we might think about the implications of some examples that depart from those central themes:

(a) the idea of a “surveillance warrant”,

(b) the deletion of the phrase “guarantees full respect for human rights”,

(c) the absence of “distributive programs” in the exclusive powers of the federal government that development experts say should be centralized under any system because of the need to have uniformity of scope and outcomes,

(d) the provisions with “in an emergency” where the Congress OR the President can act with extraordinary powers;

(e) the addition of “lawless violence” to proclaim martial law;

(f) giving the Congress the power to change the foreign ownership requirements on land, natural resources, public utilities which are critical to the lives of the poor.

Since the issue of foreign direct investment (FDI) has been brought up by the ConCom, allow me to comment on it.

The economic argument against limitations on foreign ownership is that it stifles the investment climate and competition resulting in lost employment and growth opportunities,and that such restrictions are, therefore, anti-poor. This noble rhetoric is far from the truth. FDI is closer to what Prof. Emeritus Michael Meyer of Wharton School pointed out in a Business World article (9/24/14)–that the “ethos of capitalism is you operate for your shareholders rather than for the whole people”.

But even with that kind of self-interest, what is the empirical evidence since the enactment of the 1987 Constitution and its limitations on foreign ownership?.

First: From 1960-2009, our average per capita real growth rate was 1.58% a year, the lowest in our part of the world. But from 1988 when the new constitution took effect, we have been growing steadily at a faster trajectory than before. More importantly, from 2010-2017 our GDP grew at an average of 6.4% /yr and per capita real income by 4.5% a year. That is higher than the growth rate of Thailand over the same period.

Second; The Philippines has performed very well compared to its regional neighbors. With a growth rate of 6.7% in 2017, it grew faster than the average of the EMDE in the EAP (6.4%) and faster than its ASEAN-5 neighbors. Only China, Vietnam, and Cambodia grew faster (6.8%).

At that rate, we will be doubling our GDP per capita every 15.6 years. During the Pnoy watch, poverty incidence went down from about 26.5% to about 21.5%.

Third; No wonder then that the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2016 predicted that between 2016 and 2018 the Philippines is among the top 15 preferred investment destinations of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) — US(2), China(1), India(3), UK(4), Germany(7), Japan(10), Brazil(4), Mexico(8), Indonesia(14), Malaysia(14), Philippines (-), France(10), Australia(10), Myanmar(-), Vietnam(18).(x)=2014 ranking. Philippines and Myanmar did not rank at all in 2014

Two countries were bumped off from that top 15 list – Hongkong and Singapore – to make way for us and Myanmar. And all this took place under the present constitution, and with a unitary form of government.

So what is all the screaming about the need to revise the pro-Filipino constitutional provisions with charter change?

What we should be screaming about is why the benefits of growth and the increases in labor productivity are not distributed equitably with labor, if we really care for the poor.

Real wage has been stagnant in the Philippines despite relatively high economic growth and labor productivity improvements. Real wages need to reflect at least labor productivity, but that has not happened in the Philippines. Between 2001 and 2016, real GDP more than doubled, growing by 5.4 percent per year on average. During this time, labor productivity also increased substantially, 57 percent between 2005 and 2015, with an average growth rate of 3.1 percent per year. However, real wage did not move. Aggregate real wage remained flat between 2001 and 2016 with 7 out of 15 years registering a negative growth rate. This could be part of the reason for the slow progress on poverty reduction and on inequality despite high growth performance in the last decade.

In effect, business has been able to appropriate all the benefits to themselves. Can this be solved by a structural shift to a federal-parliamentary form of government? Or is this simply a problem of public policy and the full implementation of the social justice provisions on labor?

It may well be that our economic growth might have been higher with a higher FDI. But that is different from saying that we need FDI badly and must adjust our standards to their demands.

FDI may have a role to play in our development, but what counts is not the quantity but the quality of the investment. For that, we need to make a full accounting not just of its benefits but also of its costs both internal and eternal to the project, and such long-term considerations as brownfield vs. greenfield investment, its contribution to raising the trajectory of our technological development and downstream plants for our minerals that increase the value added in the country.

According to the World Investment Report and other reports, the factors that affect investment decisions are:​

​​a) adequate infrastructure;
​​b) skill levels (human capital);
​​c) quality of the general regulatory framework;
​​d) clear rules of the game;
​​e) fiscal determination;
​​f) the relative absence of graft and corruption.

Other surveys include low levels of criminality and political instability.

The point is that if we conscientiously attend to these factors, we may have more FDI, but on our terms. In fact, the World Bank does not put lifting restrictions on reserved areas for local control as a priority to attract FDI. They know that it is a fact of public policy in most developing countries, as it was for developed countries when they were themselves developing.

Moreover, our country is already open for the purposes of FDI in long-term land leases, mineral mining (Art. XII, Sec. 2 and the La Bugal case), in power generation and supply with the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) which limits foreign ownership only in the natural monopolies of transmission and distribution, as it should be for national security reasons.

Be careful of a sweeping overhaul of our constitutional system.

I would venture to say that we should be very careful about a sweeping overhaul of our constitutional system with a president who has proven to be dangerous with power, especially if the transition also extends the terms of incumbent politicians and an otherwise banned president is allowed to run for re-election under the new Constitution.. And also because the Puno constitution bans any future revision or amendment of it’s “federal setup” which is declared “indissoluble” and “permanent” and at par with the words “democratic” and “representative”. In other words, we will be stuck forever with federalism if we adopt it with all its uncertainties and the risk of unintended consequences.

Allow me to cite two views on the situation in our country today.

Two weeks ago was a Forum of an international NGO about the future of their operations here because of its external environment both international and domestic. Its list of uncertainties in the Philippines were: democratic space, rule of law, political institutions, civil and political space, domestic and foreign policy, the government’s openness to international aid and development assistance, martial law, revolutionary government and excalating conflicts in Mindanao.

Last week, Prof Noel de Dios (UP School of Economics) at a forum cited the threats to the economy under the Duterte Administration described as “insults”, as in medicine, which causes damage to a tissue or an organ:

(1) Uncertainty insult​​
– precipitate policy changes (mining, online gaming, Boracay)
– threatened railroading of charter change

(2) Redistribution insult
• 2018 inflation surprise (TRAIN, confused monetary policy, rice fiasco)
• reliance on indirect taxation (TRAIN)
• leaky-bucket entitlements (free college tuition, salary increases to the police and the military, pensioners, free irrigation services)
(3)Selectivity insult
• targeted weaponisation of laws and rules (tax laws, SEC rules, labour laws, franchises, civil service rules, etc.)
• revolving-door of discredited cronies and supporters
• opaque favouring of certain local and foreign business interests
• implicit bias against participation of (some) private sector interests (hence ODA and government procurement in lieu of PPP)
(4) Impunity and threat insult
• “homicide cases under investigation”: 23,518 in the period 1.7.2016-11.6.2018 (Rappler); recent LCE assassinations
• threats and actions against institutions, e.g., the Ombudsman, Chief Justice, the political opposition, media, HR workers, and the Church
(5) War and disorder insult
• Marawi and Mindanao martial law
• Threatened national emergencies
• On-off peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF

“Despite the president’s seeming disinterest in economic policy, what throws a shadow over business and the economy is the demonstration of overarching power – power without checks, without accountability, and without regard for custom, values, or history.

“More than the soundness of policy, it is unbridled power and its selective application that is the source of worry for business and the people under the Duterte administration”

We are told that our leaders not only shape our lives but also our values. The Marcos years was not only about human rights and an economic disaster, it was also about a legacy of a culture of corruption that remains to this day. From the experience of the last 2 years it’s clearer now that the Duterte Administration knows how to govern only through the use of fear and force. Thus, if the Marcos legacy is a culture of corruption, then the Duterte legacy may be a culture of violence.

A book entitled “How Democracies Die” published earlier this year, among several books on the same subject, says that:
(1) where authoritarianism during the cold war was imposed through coup d’etats by the military, since then authoritarianism has been assumed by elected leaders through constitutional revisions that would allow them to stay in power indefinitely, i.e. Fujimori of Peru, Chavez of Venezuela, Erdogen of Turkey, even our Marcos and several others.;
(2) any one (or two) of these four signs means that an elected leader wants to become a dictator:
(a) rejects in words or actions the democratic rules of the game, both in written constitutions or unwritten norms of conduct and civility in a functioning democracy;
(b) denies the legitimacy of opponents;
(c) tolerates or encourages violence;
(d) indicates a willngness to curtain the civil liberties of opponents
Are these happening in the Philippines today?

Think about Sen. Leila de Lima and of former SC CJ Sereno or about the House and its deference to the Quo Warranto proceeding. Or of the SC with it total deference to the President on the proclamation and extension of martial law. Such that now, the President is empowered to declare martial law anywhere anytime in the Philippines. Or the attempt at a zero budget for the Commission on Human Rights and the attacks on the Ombudsman who is retiring this month and will likely be replaced by a loyal follower.

With the weakening of the constitutional “checking powers” of the Congress, of the Supreme Court, the Office of the Ombudsman and of the media (i.e. Rappler and the PDI, among others), the President has almost total powers even without charter change. However, there remained the potential checking power of the church to deal with. There are only 3 institutions with a nationwide reach in our country – the LGUs, the police/military establishment and the Church. That may account for the latest attempt to smear the “source” of its power – God.

All this may constitute, wittingly or unwittingly, a step towards what mental health experts refer to as “malignant normality” which can take different forms but, in the case of democratic countries, would consider aberrant behavior or language as part of the democratic process. Thus, a dangerous leader becomes normalized, and malignant normality would dominate the governing dynamic. Clearly, this situation endangers our democracy and should not be allowed to continue.

In fact, I believe that we are already on the slippery slope to authoritanism and a new constitution that allows it or provides for it would be the ultimate betrayal of the Filipino people who brought us out from the darkness of a dictatorship,

In reading the Puno constitution, I had the impression that its proposals of a sweeping overhaul of the Constitution is more an act of faith than a product of reasoned thinking because it forgets or ignores the situation in our country today and the context of charter change.

During its 5.month tenure, the ConCom failed to provide the road map for the transition to a federal system.

That is made the task of a Transitory Commission headed by the President whether in his present capacity (or as a transitional one), who also appoints the 10 other members from a list provided by a 5-person search committee headed by the Chair of the Civil Service Commission, with the four members also appointed by, you guessed it, the President.

It has dictatorial powers – legislative powers by decree-making to formulate the transition plans of the federal government, every federated region,and the branches of government; executive powers to act and implement the transition plans; and judicial powers to settle disputes arising from the plans.

It can hire and fire any government official or employee of the government.

It has the power to organize, re-organize and establish all the branches and agencies of government, on fiscal management and administration plans, on the appropriation, allocation and expenditures of the moneys of government and to exercise all the powers necessary and proper to ensure the smooth, speedy and successful transition.

Putting the constitution to a vote before the transition plans are formulated means that the people, especially in the outlying areas, who are supposed to primarily benefit from the shift, are asked to approve a constitutional shift to a federal system without knowing how and when they will become federated regions with the powers and the money promised to them. They will only know that after the Transitory Commission has formulated the transition plan for their region, which could take years.

With these dictatorial powers for at least three years, who do you think will win the first elections under the new constitution?

What are the imponderables in all this?

(a) There is the imponderable of what the President really wants. Hence the need for real independent thinkers involved in the process and not people who are quick to carry out the wishes of the president, i.e a transitional president
(b) The issue of a joint or separate vote, and what the senate does if the vote is separate;
(c) The final ConAss version, given that it will surely reflect the power plays of the political dynasties and the compromises of politicians in their self-interest;
(d) Can free and fair elections be conducted under martial law?
(e) And finally the judgment of the people in the plebiscite.

In closing, may I say that:

  1. I believe that there is a statesman in every politician and it is up to us to find it in whatever way we can. As long as there is a window of rationality, however small the opening, it is worth the effort to try;
  2. Democracy is about dialogue and compromise. There is very little space in the room for purists.. But we all have a right to be heard;
  3. ​We are willing to work together on the goal of a new social order using the lens of social justice and peace-making without resorting to a revolutionary government or a major overhaul of the Constitution. However, I believe that there are provisions proposed by the ConCom that are good ideas that should be considered for legislation.
  4. ​Bringing the President down with people power is not a good idea. He is a duly-elected President and is still a beacon of hope to many of the poor;
  5. ​If he does not want to talk or insists on taking the charter change and federalism route, we may have a fight in our hands for our rights and our freedoms. We have fought five of the last 6 presidents on issues of principle and won all of them.
  6. I believe that federalism is not the answer to addressing mass poverty and gross inequalities and the underdevelopment of the outlying areas. And I believe that our people will know if a charter change is really for their benefit and will act accordingly.

As a Pulitzer awardee reminds:“the most common way that people lose their power is when they think that they don’t have any.”


Human rights transcend
individual respect

Using lies to spread rumor of “widespread support!” for a proposed constitution, for a democracy, does not inspire trust. It invites scorn.
Neither do word games that hide far reaching consequences, such as changing this:
Section 11: The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights
to this
"The Federal Republic values the dignity of every person and guarantees full respect for the person and the right of all citizens to participate in all government processes."
which reduces the State’s obligation toward individuals to an abstract “respect” toward individuals, and “participation in government processes.” The revised wording is not an elaboration, but a contraction. A diminution of a value citizens can recognize, and that our State is supposed to uphold.
Why? The contest of asserting individual rights is inevitably social. Asserting human rights is bound up in how society treats whole classes of individuals. Especially (but not only) the marginalized, who otherwise have no power over circumstances that profoundly affect the course of their lives. Those conflicts, those contests, arise that are not resolved by the services of a bureaucracy.
Such conflicts, for example, may ultimately be about sovereignty over one’s body; the desire to be free to profess or reject any recognizably human creed; or to participate in expressions of rootedness in an identity shared with others, without fear of censure or shame, and as profoundly fundamental as one’s sexuality, or the color of one’s skin, or the language that one grew up with. Each such conflict has a history. The concepts, and the history to recognize and protect those examples, above, as goods, are contained by the words “human rights”.
The alteration or removal of these words (as in the draft constitution) signifies a turning away from recognizing those struggles (often also waged elsewhere), those histories as valid parts of human experience. There can be no bureaucracy so total, so far-reaching, as to be able to enforce a just solution to every instance of oppression; at least, I cannot imagine one that also allows us to be free. There is an economy to the phrase “guarantees full respect for human rights” that is ill served in the alteration. There is no need to do so that the high priest of legal scholarship Fr Ranhilo Aquino has bothered to explain.

Questions for the COMELEC source code review

Here are five questions I’d like answers to following the COMELEC (Commission on Elections) source code review that’s supposed to have started on October 1, 2015.

1) How are the Smartmatic vote counting machines built? What are the capabilities of the embedded processor? Does it run an embedded operating system, or is it running “bare metal” code?

2) Did COMELEC arrange that results of the source code review – importantly, findings of code defects that affect the integrity of system operation – get forwarded to the manufacturer for field software update?

3) Is there a way to verify that the version of firmware (loaded into processor flash memory) corresponds to the release version of the software being reviewed?

Another way to ask this question is this: Do the code audit teams have access to the compilers and firmware update tools used by the manufacturer, to install firmware binaries into the device? Note that if the VCMs are not field-reprogrammable, then the usefulness of findings of a code audit are extremely limited. If there are any serious defects and there is no way to update the firmware, then manual procedures need to be put in place to work around those defects.

Continue reading “Questions for the COMELEC source code review”

Reproductive Health Law (Republic Act 10354)

(Updated 12 April 2014)  Finally, clarity – and a partial it is a dubious “victory” for all of us, as the conservative Roman Catholic Church has fucked us all.  The RH Law has passed judicial review after legal challenge from Church conservatives.  Some sections of the law have been deemed unconstitutional, but the law as a whole preserves support for education, certain public services, and more. However, a closer reading of the sections struck from the law by Atty Carolina Ruiz Austria, indicate that:

  • The law as it stands today skews the balance of power toward health care providers and away from service users, the majority of whom will likely not have access to alternatives, by allowing providers irrational, religious “conscientious objector” refusal to offer RH care.
  • By removing the prohibition against service provider requirement for spousal consent, the law in fact diminishes the scope of married women’s freedom to avail of reproductive services.  It is an active diminution of women’s freedom by the State.
  • By removing prohibitions against public officers restricting provision of reproductive health services, it introduces a second irrational influence on policy implementation – political influence – the first being religious objection.

This is a searchable text version of Republic Act 10354, published at The Official Gazette, which was deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court of the Philippines Tuesday, 8 April 2014.  Sections of the law deemed unconstitutional (please fetch the official Supreme Court media brief, here [PDF]) are highlighted in red:

S. No. 2865
H. No. 4244

Republic of the Philippines
Congress of the Philippines
Metro Manila
Fifteenth Congress
Third Regular Session

Begun and held in Metro Manila, on Monday, the twenty-third day of July, two thousand twelve.

[ REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10354 ]


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

SECTION 1. Title. – This Act shall be known as “The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012″.

SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. – The State recognizes and guarantees the human rights of all persons including their right to equality and nondiscrimination of these rights, the right to sustainable human development, the right to health which includes reproductive health, the right to education and information, and the right to choose and make decisions for themselves in accordance with their religious convictions, ethics, cultural beliefs, and the demands of responsible parenthood.

Pursuant to the declaration of State policies under Section 12, Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, it is the duty of the State to protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution and equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of women especially mothers in particular and of the people in general and instill health consciousness among them. The family is the natural and fundamental unit of society. The State shall likewise protect and advance the right of families in particular and the people in general to a balanced and healthful environment in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature. The State also recognizes and guarantees the promotion and equal protection of the welfare and rights of children, the youth, and the unborn.

Moreover, the State recognizes and guarantees the promotion of gender equality, gender equity, women empowerment and dignity as a health and human rights concern and as a social responsibility. The advancement and protection of women’s human rights shall be central to the efforts of the State to address reproductive health care.

The State recognizes marriage as an inviolable social institution and the foundation of the family which in turn is the foundation of the nation. Pursuant thereto, the State shall defend:

(a) The right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood;

(b) The right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development;

(c) The right of the family to a family living wage and income; and

(d) The right of families or family associations to participate in the planning and implementation of policies and programs

The State likewise guarantees universal access to medically-safe, non-abortifacient, effective, legal, affordable, and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies which do not prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum as determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and relevant information and education thereon according to the priority needs of women, children and other underprivileged sectors, giving preferential access to those identified through 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. ■ •

The State shall eradicate discriminatory practices, laws and policies that infringe on a person’s exercise of reproductive health rights.

The State shall also promote openness to life; Provided, That parents bring forth to the world only those children whom they can raise in a truly humane way.

SEC. 3. Guiding Principles for Implementation. – This Act declares the following as guiding principles:

(a) The right to make free and informed decisions, which is central to the exercise of any right, shall not be subjected to any form of coercion and must be fully guaranteed by the State, like the right itself;

(b) Respect for protection and fulfillment of reproductive health and rights which seek to promote the rights and welfare of every person particularly couples, adult individuals, women and adolescents;

(c) Since human resource is among the principal assets of the country, effective and quality reproductive health care services must be given primacy to ensure maternal and child health, the health of the unborn, safe delivery and birth of healthy children, and sound replacement rate, in line with the State’s duty to promote the right to health, responsible parenthood, social justice and full human development;

(d) The provision of ethical and medically safe, legal, accessible, affordable, non-abortifacient, effective and quality reproductive health care services and supplies is essential in the promotion of people’s right to health, especially those of women, the poor, and the marginalized, and shall be incorporated as a component of basic health care;

(e) The State shall promote and provide information and access, without bias, to all methods of family planning, including effective natural and modern methods which have been proven medically safe, legal, non-abortifacient, and effective in accordance with scientific and evidence-based medical research standards such as those registered and approved by the FDA for the poor and marginalized as identified through the NHTS-PR and other government measures of identifying marginalization: Provided, That the State shall also provide funding support to promote modern natural methods of family planning, especially the Billings Ovulation Method, consistent with the needs of acceptors and their religious convictions;

(f) The State shall promote programs that: (1) enable individuals and couples to have the number of children they desire with due consideration to the health, particularly of women, and the resources available and affordable to them and in accordance with existing laws, public morals and their religious convictions: Provided, That no one shall be deprived, for economic reasons, of the rights to have children; (2) achieve equitable allocation and utilization of resources; (3) ensure effective partnership among national government, local government units (LGUs) and the private sector in the design, implementation, coordination, integration, monitoring and evaluation of people-centered programs to enhance the quality of life and environmental protection; (4) conduct studies to analyze demographic trends including demographic dividends from sound population policies towards sustainable human development in keeping with the principles of gender equality, protection of mothers and children, born and unborn and the promotion and protection of women’s reproductive rights and health; and (5) conduct scientific studies to determine the safety and efficacy of alternative medicines and methods for reproductive health care development;

(g) The provision of reproductive health care, information and supplies giving priority to poor beneficiaries as identified through the NHTS-PR and other government measures of identifying marginalization must be the primary responsibility of the national government consistent with its obligation to respect, protect and promote the right to health and the right to life;

(h) The State shall respect individuals’ preferences and choice of family planning methods that are in accordance with their religious convictions and cultural beliefs, taking into consideration the State’s obligations under various human rights instruments;

(i) Active participation by nongovernment organizations (NGOs), women’s and people’s organizations, civil society, faith-based organizations, the religious sector and communities is crucial to ensure that reproductive health and population and development policies, plans, and programs will address the priority needs of women, the poor, and the marginalized;

(j) While this Act recognizes that abortion is illegal and punishable by law, the government shall ensure that all women needing care for post-abortive complications and all other complications arising from pregnancy, labor and delivery and related issues shall be treated and counseled in a humane, nonjudgmental and compassionate manner in accordance with law and medical ethics;

(k) Each family shall have the right to determine its ideal family size: Provided, however, That the State shall equip each parent with the necessary information on all aspects of family life, including reproductive health and responsible parenthood, in order to make that determination;

(l) There shall be no demographic or population targets and the mitigation, promotion and/or stabilization of the population growth rate is incidental to the advancement of reproductive health;

(m) Gender equality and women empowerment are central elements of reproductive health and population and development;

(n) The resources of the country must be made to serve the entire population, especially the poor, and allocations thereof must be adequate and effective: Provided, That the life of the unborn is protected;

(o) Development is a multi-faceted process that calls for the harmonization and integration of policies, plans, programs and projects that seek to uplift the quality of life of the people, more particularly the poor, the needy and the marginalized; and

(p) That a comprehensive reproductive health program addresses the needs of people throughout their life cycle.

SEC. 4. Definition of Terms. – For the purpose of this Act, the following terms shall be defined as follows:

(a) Abortifacient refers to any drug or device that induces abortion or the destruction of a fetus inside the mother’s womb or the prevention of the fertilized ovum to reach and be implanted in the mother’s womb upon determination of the FDA.

(b) Adolescent refers to young people between the ages of ten (10) to nineteen (19) years who are in transition from childhood to adulthood.

(c) Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (BEMONC) refers to lifesaving services for emergency maternal and newborn conditions/complications being provided by a health facility or professional to include the following services: administration of parenteral oxytocic drugs, administration of dose of parenteral anticonvulsants, administration of parenteral antibiotics, administration of maternal steroids for preterm labor, performance of assisted vaginal deliveries, removal of retained placental products, and manual removal of retained placenta. It also includes neonatal interventions which include at the minimum: newborn resuscitation, provision of warmth, and referral, blood transfusion where possible.

(d) Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (CEMONC) refers to lifesaving services for emergency maternal and newborn conditions/complications as in Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care plus the provision of surgical delivery (caesarian section) and blood bank services, and other highly specialized obstetric interventions. It also includes emergency neonatal care which includes at the minimum: newborn resuscitation, treatment of neonatal sepsis infection, oxygen support, and antenatal administration of (maternal) steroids for threatened premature delivery.

(e) Family planning refers to a program which enables couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and to have access to a full range of safe, affordable, effective, non-abortifacient modem natural and artificial methods of planning pregnancy.

(f) Fetal and infant death review refers to a qualitative and in-depth study of the causes of fetal and infant death with the primary purpose of preventing future deaths through changes or additions to programs, plans and policies.

(g) Gender equality refers to the principle of equality between women and men and equal rights to enjoy conditions in realizing their full human potentials to contribute to, and benefit from, the results of development, with the State recognizing that all human beings are free and equal in dignity and rights. It entails equality in opportunities, in the allocation of resources or benefits, or in access to services in furtherance of the rights to health and sustainable human development among others, without discrimination.

(h) Gender equity refers to the policies, instruments, programs and actions that address the disadvantaged position of women in society by providing preferential treatment and affirmative action. It entails fairness and justice in the distribution of benefits and responsibilities between women and men, and often requires women-specific projects and programs to end existing inequalities. This concept recognizes that while reproductive health involves women and men, it is more critical for women’s health.

(i) Male responsibility refers to the involvement, commitment, accountability and responsibility of males in all areas of sexual health and reproductive health, as well as the care of reproductive health concerns specific to men.

(j) Maternal death review refers to a qualitative and in-depth study of the causes of maternal death with the primary purpose of preventing future deaths through changes or additions to programs, plans and policies.

(k) Maternal health refers to the health of a woman of reproductive age including, but not limited to, during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.

(l) Modern methods of family planning refers to safe, effective, non-abortifacient and legal methods, whether natural or artificial, that are registered with the FDA, to plan pregnancy.

(m) Natural family planning refers to a variety of methods used to plan or prevent pregnancy based on identifying the woman’s fertile days.

(n) Public health care service provider refers to: (1) public health care institution, which is duly licensed and accredited and devoted primarily to the maintenance and operation of facilities for health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of individuals suffering from illness, disease, injury, disability or deformity, or in need of obstetrical or other medical and nursing care; (2) public health care professional, who is a doctor of medicine, a nurse or a midwife; (3) public health worker engaged in the delivery of health care services; or (4) barangay health worker who has undergone training programs under any accredited government and NGO and who voluntarily renders primarily health care services in the community after having been accredited to function as such by the local health board in accordance with the guideline’s promulgated by the Department of Health (DOH).

(o) Poor refers to members of households identified as poor through the NHTS-PR by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or any subsequent system used by the national government in identifying the poor.

(p) Reproductive Health (RH) refers to the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. This implies that people are able to have a responsible, safe, consensual and satisfying sex life, that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so. This further implies that women and men attain equal relationships in matters related to sexual relations and reproduction.

(q) Reproductive health care refers to the access to a full range of methods, facilities, services and supplies that contribute to reproductive health and well-being by addressing reproductive health-related problems. It also includes sexual health, the purpose of which is the enhancement of life and personal relations. The elements of reproductive health care include the following:

(1) Family planning information and services which shall include as a first priority making women of reproductive age fully aware of their respective cycles to make them aware of when fertilization is highly probable, as well as highly improbable;

(2) Maternal, infant and child health and nutrition, including breastfeeding;

(3) Proscription of abortion and management of abortion complications;

(4) Adolescent and youth reproductive health guidance and counseling;

(5) Prevention, treatment and management of reproductive tract infections (RTIs), HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmittable infections (STIs);

(6) Elimination of violence against women and children and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence;

(7) Education and counseling on sexuality and reproductive health;

(8) Treatment of breast and reproductive tract cancers and other gynecological conditions and disorders;

(9) Male responsibility and involvement and men’s reproductive health;

(10) Prevention, treatment and management of infertility and sexual dysfunction;

(11) Reproductive health education for the adolescents; and

(12) Mental health aspect of reproductive health care.

(r) Reproductive health care program refers to the systematic and integrated provision of reproductive health care to all citizens prioritizing women, the poor, marginalized and those invulnerable or crisis situations.

(s) Reproductive health rights refers to the rights of individuals and couples, to decide freely and responsibly whether or not to have children; the number, spacing and timing of their children; to make other decisions concerning reproduction, free of discrimination, coercion and violence; to have the information and means to do so; and to attain the highest standard of sexual health and reproductive health: Provided, however, That reproductive health rights do not include abortion, and access to abortifacients.

(t) Reproductive health and sexuality education refers to a lifelong learning process of providing and acquiring complete, accurate and relevant age- and development-appropriate information and education on reproductive health and sexuality through life skills education and other approaches.

(u) Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI) refers to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and other types of infections affecting the reproductive system.

(v) Responsible parenthood refers to the will and ability of a parent to respond to the needs and aspirations of the family and children. It is likewise a shared responsibility between parents to determine and achieve the desired number of children, spacing and timing of their children according to their own family life aspirations, taking into account psychological preparedness, health status, sociocultural and economic concerns consistent with their religious convictions.

(w) Sexual health refers to a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free from coercion, discrimination and violence.

(x) Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) refers to any infection that may be acquired or passed on through sexual contact, use of IV, intravenous drug needles, childbirth and breastfeeding.

(y) Skilled birth attendance refers to childbirth managed by a skilled health professional including the enabling conditions of necessary equipment and support of a functioning health system, including transport and referral faculties for emergency obstetric care.

(z) Skilled health professional refers to a midwife, doctor or nurse, who has been educated and trained in the skills needed to manage normal and complicated pregnancies, childbirth and the immediate postnatal period, and in the identification, management and referral of complications in women and newborns.

(aa) Sustainable human development refers to bringing people, particularly the poor and vulnerable, to the center of development process, the central purpose of which is the creation of an enabling environment in which all can enjoy long, healthy and productive lives, done in the manner that promotes their rights and protects the life opportunities of future generations and the natural ecosystem on which all life depends.

SEC. 5. Hiring of Skilled Health Professionals for Maternal Health Care and Skilled Birth Attendance. – The LGUs shall endeavor to hire an adequate number of nurses, midwives and other skilled health professionals for maternal health care and skilled birth attendance to achieve an ideal skilled health professional-to-patient ratio taking into consideration DOH targets: Provided, That people in geographically isolated or highly populated and depressed areas shall be provided the same level of access to health care: Provided, further, That the national government shall provide additional and necessary funding and other necessary assistance for the effective implementation of this provision.

For the purposes of this Act, midwives and nurses shall be allowed to administer lifesaving drugs such as, but not limited to, oxytocin and magnesium sulfate, in accordance with the guidelines set by the DOH, under emergency conditions and when there are no physicians available: Provided, That they are properly trained and certified to administer these lifesaving drugs.

SEC. 6. Health Care Facilities. – Each LGU, upon its determination of the necessity based on well-supported data provided by its local health office shall endeavor to establish or upgrade hospitals and facilities with adequate and qualified personnel, equipment and supplies to be able to provide emergency obstetric and newborn care: Provided, That people in geographically isolated or highly populated and depressed areas shall have the same level of access and shall not be neglected by providing other means such as home visits or mobile health care clinics as needed: Provided, further, That the national government shall provide additional and necessary funding and other necessary assistance for the effective implementation of this provision.

SEC. 7. Access to Family Planning. – All accredited public health facilities shall provide a full range of modern family planning methods, which shall also include medical consultations, supplies and necessary and reasonable procedures for poor and marginalized couples having infertility issues who desire to have children: Provided, That family planning services shall likewise be extended by private health facilities to paying patients with the option to grant free care and services to indigents, except in the case of non-maternity specialty hospitals and hospitals owned and operated by a religious group, but they have the option to provide such full range of modern family planning methods: Provided, further, That these hospitals shall immediately refer the person seeking such care and services to another health facility which is conveniently accessible: Provided, finally, That the person is not in an emergency condition or serious case as defined in Republic Act No. 8344.

No person shall be denied information and access to family planning services, whether natural or artificial: Provided, That minors will not be allowed access to modern methods of family planning without written consent from their parents or guardian/s except when the minor is already a parent or has had a miscarriage.

SEC. 8. Maternal Death Review and Fetal and Infant Death Review. – All LGUs, national and local government hospitals, and other public health units shall conduct an annual Maternal Death Review and Fetal and Infant Death Review in accordance with the guidelines set by the DOH. Such review should result in an evidence-based programming and budgeting process that would contribute to the development of more responsive reproductive health services to promote women’s health and safe motherhood.

SEC. 9. The Philippine National Drug Formulary System and Family Planning Supplies. – The National Drug Formulary shall include hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and other safe, legal, non-abortifacient and effective family planning products and supplies. The Philippine National Drug Formulary System (PNDFS) shall be observed in selecting drugs including family planning supplies that will be included or removed from the Essential Drugs List (EDL) in accordance with existing practice and in consultation with reputable medical associations in the Philippines. For the purpose of this Act, any product or supply included or to be included in the EDL must have a certification from the FDA that said product and supply is made available on the condition that it is not to be used as an abortifacient.

These products and supplies shall also be included in the regular purchase of essential medicines and supplies of all national hospitals: Provided, further, That the foregoing offices shall not purchase or acquire by any means emergency contraceptive pills, postcoital pills, abortifacients that will be used for such purpose and their other forms or equivalent.

SEC. 10. Procurement and Distribution of Family Planning Supplies. – The DOH shall procure, distribute to LGUs and monitor the usage of family planning supplies for the whole country. The DOH shall coordinate with all appropriate local government bodies to plan and implement this procurement and distribution program. The supply and budget allotments shall be based on, among others, the current levels and projections of the following:

(a) Number of women of reproductive age and couples who want to space or limit their children;

(b) Contraceptive prevalence rate, by type of method used; and

(c) Cost of family planning supplies.

Provided, That LGUs may implement its own procurement, distribution and monitoring program consistent with the overall provisions of this Act and the guidelines of the DOH.

SEC. 11. Integration of Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning Component in Anti-Poverty Programs. – A multidimensional approach shall be adopted in the implementation of policies and programs to fight poverty. Towards this end, the DOH shall implement programs prioritizing full access of poor and marginalized women as identified through the NHTS-PR and other government measures of identifying marginalization to reproductive health care, services, products and programs. The DOH shall provide such programs, technical support, including capacity building and monitoring.

SEC. 12. PhilHealth Benefits for Serious .and Life-Threatening Reproductive Health Conditions. – All serious and life-threatening reproductive health conditions such as HIV and AIDS, breast and reproductive tract cancers, and obstetric complications, and menopausal and post-menopausal-related conditions shall be given the maximum benefits, including the provision of Anti-Retroviral Medicines (ARVs), as provided in the guidelines set by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC).

SEC. 13. Mobile Health Care Service. – The national or the local government may provide each provincial, city, municipal and district hospital with a Mobile Health Care Service (MHCS) in the form of a van or other means of transportation appropriate to its terrain, taking into consideration the health care needs of each LGU. The MHCS shall deliver health care goods and services to its constituents, more particularly to the poor and needy, as well as disseminate knowledge and information on reproductive health. The MHCS shall be operated by skilled health providers and adequately equipped with a wide range of health care materials and information dissemination devices and equipment, the latter including, but not limited to, a television set for audio-visual presentations. All MHCS shall be operated by LGUs of provinces and highly urbanized cities.

SEC. 14. Age- and Development-Appropriate Reproductive Health Education. – The State shall provide age- and development-appropriate reproductive health education to adolescents which shall be taught by adequately trained teachers informal and nonformal educational system and integrated in relevant subjects such as, but not limited to, values formation; knowledge and skills in self-protection against discrimination; sexual abuse and violence against women and children and other forms of gender based violence and teen pregnancy; physical, social and emotional changes in adolescents; women’s rights and children’s rights; responsible teenage behavior; gender and development; and responsible parenthood: Provided, That flexibility in the formulation and adoption of appropriate course content, scope and methodology in each educational level or group shall be allowed only after consultations with parents-teachers-community associations, school officials and other interest groups. The Department of Education (DepED) shall formulate a curriculum which shall be used by public schools and may be adopted by private schools.

SEC. 15. Certificate of Compliance. – No marriage license shall be issued by the Local Civil Registrar unless the applicants present a Certificate of Compliance issued for free by the local Family Planning Office certifying that they had duly received adequate instructions and information on responsible parenthood, family planning, breastfeeding and infant nutrition.

SEC. 16. Capacity Building of Barangay Health Workers (BHWs). – The DOH shall be responsible for disseminating information and providing training programs to the LGUs. The LGUs, with the technical assistance of the DOH, shall be responsible for the training of BHWs and other barangay volunteers on the promotion of reproductive health. The DOH shall provide the LGUs with medical supplies and equipment needed by BHWs to carry out their functions effectively: Provided, further, That the national government shall provide additional and necessary funding and other necessary assistance for the effective implementation of this provision including the possible provision of additional honoraria for BHWs.

SEC. 17. Pro Bono Services for Indigent Women. – Private and nongovernment reproductive healthcare service providers including, but not limited to, gynecologists and obstetricians, are encouraged to provide at least forty-eight (48) hours annually of reproductive health services, ranging from providing information and education to rendering medical services, free of charge to indigent and low-income patients as identified through the NHTS-PR and other government measures of identifying marginalization, especially to pregnant adolescents. The forty-eight (48) hours annual pro bono services shall be included as a prerequisite in the accreditation under the PhilHealth.

SEC. 18. Sexual and Reproductive Health Programs for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs). – The cities and municipalities shall endeavor that barriers to reproductive health services for PWDs are obliterated by the following:

(a) Providing physical access, and resolving transportation and proximity issues to clinics, hospitals and places where public health education is provided, contraceptives are sold or distributed or other places where reproductive health services are provided;

(b) Adapting examination tables and other laboratory procedures to the needs and conditions of PWDs;

(c) Increasing access to information and communication materials on sexual and reproductive health in braille, large print, simple language, sign language and pictures;

(d) Providing continuing education and inclusion of rights of PWDs among health care providers; and

(e) Undertaking activities to raise awareness and address misconceptions among the general public on the stigma and their lack of knowledge on the sexual and reproductive health needs and rights of PWDs.

SEC. 19. Duties and Responsibilities. – (a) Pursuant to the herein declared policy, the DOH shall serve as the lead agency for the implementation of this Act and shall integrate in their regular operations the following functions:

(1) Fully and efficiently implement the reproductive health care program;

(2) Ensure people’s access to medically safe, non-abortifacient, legal, quality and affordable reproductive health goods and services; and

(3) Perform such other functions necessary to attain the purposes of this Act.

(b) The DOH, in coordination with the PHIC, as may be applicable, shall:

(1) Strengthen the capacities of health regulatory agencies to ensure safe, high quality, accessible and affordable reproductive health services and commodities with the concurrent strengthening and enforcement of regulatory mandates and mechanisms;

(2) Facilitate the involvement and participation of NGOs and the private sector in reproductive health care service delivery and in the production, distribution and delivery of quality reproductive health and family planning supplies and commodities to make them accessible and affordable to ordinary citizens;

(3) Engage the services, skills and proficiencies of experts in natural family planning who shall provide the necessary training for all BHWs;

(4) Supervise and provide assistance to LGUs in the delivery of reproductive health care services and in the purchase of family planning goods and supplies; and

(5) Furnish LGUs, through their respective local health offices, appropriate information and resources to keep the latter updated on current studies and researches relating to family planning, responsible parenthood, breastfeeding and infant nutrition.

(c) The FDA shall issue strict guidelines with respect to the use of contraceptives, taking into consideration the side effects or other harmful effects of their use.

(d) Corporate citizens shall exercise prudence in advertising its products or services through all forms of media, especially on matters relating to sexuality, further taking into consideration its influence on children and the youth.

SEC. 20. Public Awareness. – The DOH and the LGUs shall initiate and sustain a heightened nationwide multimedia-campaign to raise the level of public awareness on the protection and promotion of reproductive health and rights including, but not limited to, maternal health and nutrition, family planning and responsible parenthood information and services, adolescent and youth reproductive health, guidance and counseling and other elements of reproductive health care under Section 4(q).

Education and information materials to be developed and disseminated for this purpose shall be reviewed regularly to ensure their effectiveness and relevance.

SEC. 21. Reporting Requirements. – Before the end of April each year, the DOH shall submit to the President of the Philippines and Congress an annual consolidated report, which shall provide a definitive and comprehensive assessment of the implementation of its programs and those of other government agencies and instrumentalities and recommend priorities for executive and legislative actions. The report shall be printed and distributed to all national agencies, the LGUs, NGOs and private sector organizations involved in said programs.

The annual report shall evaluate the content, implementation, and impact of all policies related to reproductive health and family planning to ensure that such policies promote, protect and fulfill women’s reproductive health and rights.

SEC. 22. Congressional Oversight Committee on Reproductive Health Act. – There is hereby created a Congressional Oversight Committee (COC) composed of five (5) members each from the Senate and the House of Representatives. The members from the Senate and the House of Representatives shall be appointed by the Senate President and the Speaker, respectively, with at least one (1) member representing the Minority.

The COC shall be headed by the respective Chairs of the Committee on Health and Demography of the Senate and the Committee on Population and Family Relations of the House of Representatives. The Secretariat of the COC shall come from the existing Secretariat personnel of the Senate and the House of Representatives committees concerned.

The COC shall monitor and ensure the effective implementation of this Act, recommend the necessary remedial legislation or administrative measures, and shall conduct a review of this Act every five (5) years from its effectivity. The COC shall perform such other duties and functions as may be necessary to attain the objectives of tins Act.

SEC. 23. Prohibited Acts. – The following acts are prohibited:

(a) Any health care service provider, whether public or private, who shall:

(1) Knowingly withhold information or restrict the dissemination thereof, and/or intentionally provide incorrect information regarding programs and services on reproductive health including the right to informed choice and access to a full range of legal, medically-safe, non-abortifacient and effective family planning methods;

(2) Refuse to perform legal and medically-safe reproductive health procedures on any person of legal age on the ground of lack of consent or authorization of the following persons in the following instances:

(i) Spousal consent in case of married persons: Provided, That in case of disagreement, the decision of the one undergoing the procedure shall prevail; and

(ii) Parental consent or that of the person exercising parental authority in the case of abused minors, where the parent or the person exercising parental authority is the respondent, accused or convicted perpetrator as certified by the proper prosecutorial office of the court. In the case of minors, the written consent of parents or legal guardian or, in their absence, persons exercising parental authority or next-of-kin shall be required only in elective surgical procedures and in no case shall consent be required in emergency or serious cases as defined in Republic Act No. 8344; and

(3) Refuse to extend quality health care services and information on account of the person’s marital status, gender, age, religious convictions, personal circumstances, or nature of work: Provided, That the conscientious objection of a health care service provider based on his/her ethical or religious beliefs shall be respected; however, the conscientious objector shall immediately refer the person seeking such care and services to another health care service provider within the same facility or one which is conveniently accessible: Provided, further, That the person is not in an emergency condition or serious case as defined in Republic Act No. 8344, which penalizes the refusal of hospitals and medical clinics to administer appropriate initial medical treatment and support in emergency and serious cases;

(b) Any public officer, elected or appointed, specifically charged with the duty to implement the provisions hereof, who, personally or through a subordinate, prohibits or restricts the delivery of legal and medically-safe reproductive health care services, including family planning; or forces, coerces or induces any person to use such services; or refuses to allocate, approve or release any budget for reproductive health care services, or to support reproductive health programs; or shall do any act that hinders the full implementation of a reproductive health program as mandated by this Act;

(c) Any employer who shall suggest, require, unduly influence or cause any applicant for employment or an employee to submit himself/herself to sterilization, use any modern methods of family planning, or not use such methods as a condition for employment, continued employment, promotion or the provision of employment benefits. Further, pregnancy or the number of children shall not be a ground for non-hiring or termination from employment;

(d) Any person who shall falsify a Certificate of Compliance as required in Section 15 of this Act; and

(e) Any pharmaceutical company, whether domestic or multinational, or its agents or distributors, which directly or indirectly colludes with government officials, whether appointed or elected, in the distribution, procurement and/or sale by the national government and LGUs of modern family planning supplies, products and devices.

SEC. 24. Penalties. – Any violation of this Act or commission of the foregoing prohibited acts shall be penalized by imprisonment ranging from one (1) month to six (6) months or a fine of Ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00) to One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00), or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the competent court: Provided, That, if the offender is a public officer, elected or appointed, he/she shall also suffer the penalty of suspension not exceeding one (1) year or removal and forfeiture of retirement benefits depending on the gravity of the offense after due notice and hearing by the appropriate body or agency.

If the offender is a juridical person, the penalty shall be imposed upon the president or any responsible officer. An offender who is an alien shall, after service of sentence, be deported immediately without further proceedings by the Bureau of Immigration. If the offender is a pharmaceutical company, its agent and/or distributor, their license or permit to operate or conduct business in the Philippines shall be perpetually revoked, and a fine triple the amount involved in the violation shall be imposed.

SEC. 25. Appropriations. – The amounts appropriated in the current annual General Appropriations Act (GAA) for reproductive health and natural and artificial family planning and responsible parenthood under the DOH and other concerned agencies shall be allocated and utilized for the implementation of this Act. Such additional sums necessary to provide for the upgrading of faculties necessary to meet BEMONC and CEMONC standards; the training and deployment of skilled health providers; natural and artificial family planning commodity requirements as outlined in Section 10, and for other reproductive health and responsible parenthood services, shall be included in the subsequent years’ general appropriations. The Gender and Development (GAD) funds of LGUs and national agencies may be a source of funding for the implementation of this Act.

SEC. 26. Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). – Within sixty (60) days from the effectivity of this Act, the DOH Secretary or his/her designated representative as Chairperson, the authorized representative/s of DepED, DSWD, Philippine Commission on Women, PHIC, Department of the Interior and Local Government, National Economic and Development Authority, League of Provinces, League of Cities, and League of Municipalities, together with NGOs, faith-based organizations, people’s, women’s and young people’s organizations, shall jointly promulgate the rules and regulations for the effective implementation of this Act. At least four (4) members of the IRR drafting committee, to be selected by the DOH Secretary, shall come from NGOs.

SEC. 27. Interpretation Clause. – This Act shall be liberally construed to ensure the provision, delivery and access to reproductive health care services, and to promote, protect and fulfill women’s reproductive health and rights.

SEC. 28. Separability Clause. – If any part or provision of this Act is held invalid or unconstitutional, the other provisions not affected thereby shall remain in force and effect.

SEC. 29. Repealing Clause. – Except for prevailing laws against abortion, any law, presidential decree or issuance, executive order, letter of instruction, administrative order, rule or regulation contrary to or is inconsistent with the provisions of this Act including Republic Act No. 7392, otherwise known as the Midwifery Act, is hereby repealed, modified or amended accordingly.

SEC 30. Effectivity. – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation.



Speaker of the House

of Representatives


President of the Senate

This Act which is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 2865 and House Bill No. 4244 was finally passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives on December 19, 2012.


Secretary General

House of Representatives


Secretary of the Senate

Approved: DEC 21 2012


President of the Philippines

Phlegiscope, Keeping Track of Laws Being Made

What is Phlegiscope?

UPDATE – We’ve been Scooped!  Yippee!!  (Friday, 2nd of October 2015): This morning, I got a message from James E. that gave me an exciting jolt.  In this post on, Gang Badoy of RockEd Philippines describes their Polimetrics project, launched in July 2015 that does legislation tracking in a better-focused manner, with an agile team that includes a data science expert and statistician, and advisers with links to publishers and academe.  While they’re using a different set of technologies and with broader goals, the “technology stack” they and I are using differ sufficiently that it makes sense to continue working on Legiscope.  For more on the Polimetrics project, see the Knight News Challenge article, here

Continue reading “Phlegiscope, Keeping Track of Laws Being Made”