The RH Act (2012) in brief

Appendix “B” of Philippines RH Act: Rx for controversy

Sean Murphy*

An outline of principal sections of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 relevant to freedom of conscience.

SEC. 1. Title
  • [Not reproduced here]
SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy

The State recognizes and guarantees the human rights of all persons,1 including their right to equality and nondiscrimination of these rights, the right to sustainable human development, the right to health which includes reproductive health,2 the right to education and information, and the right to choose and make decisions3 for themselves in accordance with their religious convictions, ethics, cultural beliefs and the demands of responsible parenthood.4 . . . [Full text]

Philippines population control and management policies

Appendix “A” of Philippines RH Act: Rx for controversy

Sean Murphy*

Establishment of POPCOM

In 1967, President Ferdinand Marcos joined other world leaders in adding his signature to a Declaration on Population that had been made the previous year by representatives of 12 countries (often incorrectly cited in Philippines government documents as “the UN Declaration on Population”).1 Two years later, Executive Order 171 established the Commission on Population (POPCOM), and in 1970 Executive Order 233 empowered POPCOM to direct a national population programme.2

The Population Act

Philippines population control and management policies

The Population Act [RA 6365] passed in 1971 made family planning part of a strategy for national development. Subsequent Presidential Decrees required increased participation of public and private sectors, private organizations and individuals in the population programme.3

Under President Corazon Aquino (1986 to 1992) the family planning element of the programme was transferred to the Department of Health, where it became part of a five year health plan for improvements in health, nutrition and family planning. According to the Philippines National Statistics Office, the strong influence of the Catholic Church undermined political and financial support for family planning, so that the focus of the health policy was on maternal and child health, not on fertility reduction.4

The Population Management Program

The Ramos administration launched the Philippine Population Management Program (PPMP) in 1993. This was modified in 1999, incorporating “responsible parenthood” as a central theme.3 During the Philippines 12th Congress (2001-2004) policymakers and politicians began to focus on “reproductive health.”5

Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning Program

In 2006 the President ordered the Department of Health, POPCOM and local governments to direct and implement the Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning Program.

The Responsible Parenthood and Natural Family Planning Program’s primary policy objective is to promote natural family planning, birth spacing (three years birth spacing) and breastfeeding which are good for the health of the mother, child, family, and community. While LGUs can promote artificial family planning because of local autonomy, the national government advocates natural family planning.3

Population policy effectiveness and outcomes

The population of the Philippines grew steadily from about 27million in 1960 to over 100 million in 2018. Starting from similar populations in 1960, Thailand, Myanmar and South Korea now have much lower populations (Figure 1) . . . [Full text]

Duterte blames Philippine Church for rapid population rise

Catholic opposition to family planning is main reason for high fertility rate, he says

UCA News

Joe Torres

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has blamed the Catholic Church for the rapid growth in the country’s population in recent years.

The Philippines is the 13th most populous country in the world, between Mexico and Ethiopia, with a growth rate of 1.72 percent between 2010 and 2015.

It is the second most populous country in Southeast Asia behind Indonesia and has the highest population-growth rate in the region. . . [Full text]

Supreme Court of the Philippines

The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012

Opinions supporting freedom of conscience


Supreme Court of the Philippines

In  April, 2014, the Protection of Conscience Project’s critique of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (RH Act) was confirmed by a ruling of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. 

With respect to the issue of freedom of conscience among health care workers and institutions, of the fifteen Supreme Court judges:

  • 11 held that the mandatory referral provision in the law was an unconstitutional violation of freedom of conscience;
  •  10 of the 11 also ruled that forcing an objecting health care worker to provide “complete and correct information” about contraception was a violation of freedom of conscience
    • The eleventh judge (Del  Castillo, J.) held that a requirement to provide complete and correct information was not unconstitutional, as long as it was not used to suppress the freedom of objecting health care workers to express professional or other opinions concerning contraception.
Lucas P. Bersamin
Antonio T. Carpio
Jose Catral Mendoza
Diosdado M. Peralta
Jose Portugal Perez
Presbitero J. Velasco
Martin S. Villarama Jr.
Concurring opinions
Roberto A. Abad
Arturo D. Brion
Teresita J. Leonardo-de Castro
Concurring, dissenting in part
Mariano C.  Del Castillo (dissenting on providing information)
Estala M. Perlas-Bernabe
Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen
Bienvenido L. Reyes
Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno

Position of the Petitioners [P.60]
2. On Religious Accommodation and The Duty to Refer  [P.61]

Petitioners Imbong and Luat note that while the RH Law attempts to address religious sentiments by making provisions for a conscientious objector, the constitutional guarantee is nonetheless violated because the law also imposes upon the conscientious objector the duty to refer the patient seeking reproductive health services to another medical practitioner who would be able to provide for the patient’s needs. For the petitioners, this amounts to requiring the conscientious objector to cooperate with the very thing he refuses to do without violating his/her religious beliefs.190 . . . [Full text]