Reproductive health rights advocates urged the Philippines to sustain the gains of the reproductive health law which was signed into law by late President Benigno Aquino III in 2012 and still has gaps as far as implementation is concerned.
“A decade after its enactment, it is everybody’s task to sustain the gains and maintain the momentum of the RH law,” said Leila Saiji Joudane, country representative of the United Nations Population Fund Philippines.
“We need to address gaps in policy and implementation and guarantee that the benefits of the law reach especially the most vulnerable women and girls in the country,” she added.
Citing data from the National Demographic and Health Survey 2022, the Philippine Legislator’s Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. said the modern contraceptive prevalence rose to 41.8 percent in 2022 from 40.4 percent in 2017. Total fertility rate decreased to 1.9 children per woman in 2022 from 2.7 in 2017, while the unmet need for family planning also declined to 12 percent from 17 percent in 2017.
“Despite these significant gains, several essential gaps remain, including barriers to minors’ access to modern contraceptives and the absence of comprehensive sexuality education,” said Romeo Dongeto, executive director of PLCPD.
Other challenges to the full implementation of the RH law include budget, and the integration and streamlining of RH activities into a comprehensive set of services that local government units can adopt.
As with most of our laws that are well meaning but ultimately fall prey to poor implementation, the RH law needs to be followed up every now and then by advocates who are there to ensure that government continues to deliver on its promises to its people when those pieces of legislation were passed with the best of intentions. This is normal in the Philippines and that is probably why we need advocates to push for the proper implementation of laws and policies. Hopefully, if they push hard enough, those changes can become a normal part of governance and achieve the intended result of the law when it was made in the first place.*