Diatribe by Philippines’ President turns back the clock
In June, 2019, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte blamed the Catholic Church for obstructing government plans to reduce the country’s birth rate and population. “They think that spewing out human beings by the millions is a gift from God,” he claimed, adding that health care workers should resign if they are unwilling to follow government policy on population control for reasons of conscience.
Duterte’s authoritarian diatribe clashes with a ruling of the Supreme Court of the Philippines and turns the clock back to times of harsh and extreme rhetoric when the current law (commonly called the RH Act) was being developed. The RH Act was the product of over fourteen years of public controversy and political wrangling. It was of concern when it was enacted because it threatened some conscientious objectors with imprisonment and fines.
In January, 2013, the Project reviewed the Act in detail. Project criticisms about the law’s suppression of freedom of conscience were validated in April, 2014, when the Supreme Court of the Philippines struck down sections of the law as unconstitutional.
Given the long history of attempts at legislative coercion in the Philippines and President Duterte’s obvious hostility to freedom of conscience and religion in health care, the Project’s 2013 review of the RH Act is here updated and republished.
Assuming that the Philippines government’s concern about population growth in the country is justified, it does not follow that it is best addressed by the kind of state bullying exemplified by President Duterte’s ill-tempered and ill-considered eruption. Aside from the government’s enormous practical advantage in its control of health care facilities, it has at its disposal all of the legitimate means available to democratic states to accomplish its policy goals. Not the least of these is persuasive rational argument, an approach fully consistent with the best traditions of liberal democracy, and far less dangerous than state suppression of fundamental freedoms of conscience and religion.
- Rights claims
- Providing ‘information’
- Providing contraceptives, sterilization and artificial reproduction
- Compliance and enforcement
- Establishment of POPCOM
- The Population Act
- The Population Management Program
- Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning Program
- Population policy effectiveness and outcomes
- Collateral outcomes
- Influence of the Catholic Church
- SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy
- SEC. 3. Guiding Principles for Implementation
- SEC. 4. Definition of Terms
- SEC. 7. Access to Family Planning
- SEC. 9. The Philippine National Drug Formulary System and Family Planning supplies
- SEC. 15. Certificate of Compliance
- SEC. 17. Pro Bono Services for Indigent Women
- SEC. 19. Duties and Responsibilities
- SEC. 23. Prohibited Acts
- SEC. 24. Penalties
- SEC. 27. Interpretation Clause
- Re: Section 2 – Declaration of Policy
- Re: Section 3 – Guiding Principles for Implementation
- Re: Section 4 – Definition of Terms
- Re: Section 7 – Access to Family Planning
- Re: Section 9 – The Philippine National Drug Formulary System and Family Planning supplies
- Re: Section 15 – Certificate of Compliance
- Re: Section 19 – Duties and Responsiblities
- Re: Section 23 – Prohibited Acts
- Re: Section 24 – Penalties
- Re: Section 27 – Interpretation Clause