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REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINESJU r..

, y - j pt
/1 lL)
SUPREME COURT
MANILA
ENBANC
JAMES M. IMBONG AND LOVELY-
ANN C. IMBONG, for themselves and
in behalf of their minor children
Lucia Carlos Imbong and Bernadette
Carlos Imbong and MAGNIFICAT
CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER,
INC.,
Petitioners,
- versus -
HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.,
Executive Secretary, ET AL.,
Respondents.
x--------------------------------------------------x
ALLIANCE FOR THE FAMILY
FOUNDATION PHILIPPINES, INC.
(ALFI), represented by its President,
MA. CONCEPCION S. NOCHE, ET.
AL.
Petitioners,
- versus -
HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.,
Executive Secretary, ET AL.,
Respondents.
lt---------------------------------------------1{
SJS President SAMSON S.
ALCANTARA,
Petitioner-in- Intervention,

TASK FORCE FOR FAMILY AND LIFE
VISAYAS, INC. AND VALERIANO S.
AVILA,
Petitioners,
- versus -
HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.,
Secretary, ET AL.,
Respondents.
x--------------------------------------------------x
1'5\WREUE GOUUT
OFFICii OF' CLERK OF COURT
ll:N BA.NC
RECEIVED
MAY 0 9 2013
BY: _______ _
TIM:
G.R. NO. 204819
G.R. NO. 204934
G.R. NO. 204957
MANIFESTATION
James Imbong, et.al. vs. Hon. Paquito Ochoa, et. al.
G.R. Nos. 204819,205478,205491...
X - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - X
SERVE LIFE CAGAYAN DE ORO
CITY, INC. represented by DR.
NESTOR B. LUMICAO, M.D. as
President and in his personal
capacity, ET. AL.
Petitioners,
- versus -
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT,
SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, ET.
AL.
Respondents.
1[--------------------------------------------------J{
EXPEDITO A. BUGARIN, JR.,
Petitioner,
- versus -
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,
ET.AL.
Respondents.
]{--------------------------------------------------]{
EDUARDO B. OLAGUER and
CATHOLIC XYBRSPACE
APOSTOLATE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Petitioners,
- versus -
DOH SECRETARY ENRIQUE T. ONA,
ET. AL.
Respondents.
]{--------------------------------------------------]{
PHILIPPINE ALLIANCE OF
XSEMINARIANS, INC. (PAX), herein
represented by its National
President, ATTY. RICARDO M. RIBO
and in his own behalf, ET. AL.,
Petitioners,
-versus-
HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.,
E2tecutive Secretary, ET AL.,
Respondents.
]{--------------------------------------------------]{
G.R. NO. 204988
G.R. NO. 205003
G.R. NO. 205043
G.R. NO. 205138
MANIFESTATION
James Imbong, et.al. vs. Hon. Paquito Ochoa, et. al.
G.R. Nos. 204819, 205478, 205491...
X------------------------------------------------------------------------X
REYNALDO J. ECHAVEZ, M.D., ET.
AL.
Petitioners,
- versus -
HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., ET.
AL.
Respondents.
lt--------------------------------------------------1[
SPS. FRANCISCO S. TATAD AND
MARIA FENNY C. TATAD, for
themselves, their posterity and the
rest of the FILIPINO POSTERITY,
Petitioners,
- versus -
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondents.
x---------------------------------------.------------x
PRO-LIFE
FOUNDATION, INC.,
Lorna Melegrito,
Director, and in
capacity, ET AL.,
PHILIPPINES
represented by
as Executive
her personal
Petitioners,
- versus -
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, ET
AL.,
Respondents.
x--------------------------------------------------x
MANIFESTATION
G.R. NO. 205478
G.R. NO. 205491
G.R. NO. 205720
RESPONDENTS,
1
by counsel, respectfully state:
1
Excluding respondents League of Provinces of the Philippines, League of Cities of the
Philippines and League of Municipalities of the Philippines in G.R. 204934.
MANIFESTATION
James Imbong, et.al. vs. Hon. Paquito Ochoa, et. al.
G.R. Nos. 204819,205478,205491...
X------------------------------------------------------------------------X
1. By motion, respondents' Consolidated Comment fell
due on May 8, 2013.
2. On even date, the Office of the Solicitor General
(OSG) filed and served respondents' Consolidated Comment
through registered mail, for lack of material time.
3. Considering, however, the voluminous file of the
said Consolidated Comment, only its original copy with
annexes was filed by the OSG via registered mail.2
4. The fifteen (15) additional copies of the required
pleading, two (2) of which contain annexes, are now attached.
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed of the Honorable
Court that this manifestation be NOTED and the attached
fifteen ( 15) additional copies of respondents' Consolidated
Comment be ADMITTED.
Makati City for Manila, May 9, 2013.
FRANCIS H. JARDELEZA
Solicitor General
IBP Life Member Roll No. 00037 I Roll No. 25719
MCLE Exemption No. III-008523

. I$ERMES L. OCAMPO
Assistant Solicitor General
IBP Life Member .Roll No. 091351 Roll No. 40169
MCLE Compliance No. IV-0016556, 04-11-13
MA.
State Solicitor
IBP Life Member Roll No. 092101Roll No. 50733
MCLE Compliance No. IV-0009098, 11 I 13112
OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
134 Amorsolo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City
Tel. No. 8186381loc. 662
2
A certified photocopy of the registered Mail Bill dated May 8, 2013 is hereto attached
as "Annex A".
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
SUPREME COURT
MANILA
ENBANC
JAMES M. IMBONG AND LOVELY-
ANN C. IMBONG, for themselves and
in behalf of their minor children
Lucia Carlos Imbong and Bernadette
Carlos lmbong and MAGNIFICAT
CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER,
INC.,
Petitioners,
- versus -
HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.,
Executive Secretary, ET AL.,
Respondents.
x--------------------------------------------------1{
ALLIANCE FOR THE FAMILY
FOUNDATION PHILIPPINES, INC.
(ALFI), represented by its President,
MA. CONCEPCION S. NOCHE, ET.
AL.
Petitioners,
- versus -
HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.,
EJCecutive Secretary, ET AL.,
Respondents.
1{---------------------------------------------J{
SJS President SAMSON S.
ALCANTARA,
Petitioner-in-Intervention,
1{--------------------------------------------------J{
TASK FORCE FOR FAMILY AND LIFE
VISAYAS, INC. AND VALERIANO S.
AVILA,
Petitioners,
- versus -
HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.,
EJCecutive Secretary, ET AL.,
Respondents.
1{--------------------------------------------------J{
G.R. NO. 204819
G.R. NO. 204934
G.R. NO. 204957
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
SERVE LIFE CAGAYAN DE ORO
CITY, INC. represented by DR.
NESTOR B. LUMICAO, M.D. as
President and in his personal
capacity, ET. AL.
Petitioners,
- versus -
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT,
SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, ET.
AL.
Respondents.
1[--------------------------------------------------1[
EXPEDITO A. BUGARIN, JR.,
Petitioner,
- versus -
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,
ET.AL.
Respondents.
1[--------------------------------------------------lt
EDUARDO B. OLAGUER and
CATHOLIC XYBRSPACE
APOSTOLATE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Petitioners,
versus -
DOH SECRETARY ENRIQUE T. ONA,
ET. AL.
Respondents.
1[--------------------------------------------------1[
PHILIPPINE ALLIANCE OF
XSEMINARIANS, INC. (PAX), herein
represented by its National
President, ATTY. RICARDO M. RIBO
and in his own behalf, ET. AL.,
Petitioners,
-versus-
HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.,
Eltecutive Secretary, ET AL.,
Respondents.
1[--------------------------------------------------1[
2
G.R. NO. 204988
G.R. NO. 205003
G.R. NO. 205043
G.R. NO. 205138
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
REYNALDO J. ECHAVEZ, M.D., ET.
AL.
Petitioners,
versus -
HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., ET.
AL.
Respondents.
1 ( - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - J {
SPS. FRANCISCO S. TATAD AND
MARIA FENNY C. TATAD, for
themselves, their posterity and the
rest of the FILIPINO POSTERITY,
Petitioners,
versus -
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondents.
1[---------------------------------------------------J{
PRO-LIFE
FOUNDATION, INC.,
Lorna Melegrito,
Director, and in
capacity, ET AL.,
PHILIPPINES
represented by
as E1recutive
her personal
Petitioners,
versus -
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, ET
AL.,
Respondents.
1(--------------------------------------------------J{
3
G.R. NO. 205478
G.R. NO. 205491
G.R. NO. 205720
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
(With Opposition to the Application for a Temporary
Restraining Order andjor.Writ of Preliminary Injunction)
RESPONDENTS,
1
by counsel, respectfully aver:
1
In all the above captioned petitions, except respondents League of Provinces of the
Philippines, League of Cities of the Philippines and League of Municipalities of the
Philippines in G.R. 204934.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
PREFATORY STATEMENT
The responsibility of upholding the Constitution rests not
on the courts alone but on the legislature as well. ((The
question of validity of every statute is first determined by
the legislative department itself' (U.S. us. Ten Yu [1912},
24 Phil., 1, 1 0; Case us. Board of Health and Heiser
[1913], 24 Phil., 250, 276; U.S. us. Joson [1913}, 26 Phil.,
1). And a statute finally comes before the courts
sustained by the sanction of the executive. The members
of the Legislature and the Chief Executive have taken an
oath to support the Constitution and it must be presumed
that they have been true to this oath and that in enacting
and sanctioning a particular law they did not intend to
violate the Constitution. The courts cannot but
cautiously exercise its power to overturn the
solemn declarations of two of the three grand
departments of the government (6 R. C. L., p. 101).
Then, there is that peculiar political philosophy which
bids the judiciary to reflect the wisdom of the
people as expressed through an elective Legislature
and an elective Chief Executive. It follows, therefore,
that the courts will not set aside a law as violative of the
Constitution except in a clear case.2
4
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10354, otherwise known as "The
Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 20 12"
(hereinafter referred to as the "RH Law''), is a landmark piece
of social welfare legislation about the health and welfare of
mothers, infants, children and the Filipino family. The RH Law
seeks to provide Filipinos with information about and
universal access to safe, legal, affordable, effective and
essential reproductive health care services and supplies,
especially to the poor and the marginalized. It gives the
Filipino people the right to make an informed choice on
different health care services and supplies. This is the State's
response to the need to address the reproductive health
concerns of its citizens. Particularly, it is to save lives.3
Moreover, this is also consistent with our commitment to the
2
People us. Jose 0. Vera, G.R. No. 45685, November 16, 1937; emphasis and italics
supplied.
3
The mortality rate for Filipino mothers has increased from 162 per 100,000 live births
in 2006 to 221 per 100,000 live births in 2011 (2006 NSO Family Planning Survey and
2011 Family Health Survey); A reported 1,172 maternal deaths occurred in the country
(excluding CARAGA) out of 1,763,700 live births (2011 Maternal Mortality Data, National
Safe Motherhood Program of the DOH).
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
5
United Nations Millennium Development Goals
4
on the
reduction of maternal mortality and of infant mortality and
morbidity.
The RH Law, at its core, is a government subsidy
designed to make what used to be privately-accessible
reproductive health devices publicly available. Thus, in the
same way that the power of Congress to subsidize access to
education, public utilities and food cannot lightly be
questioned on constitutional grounds, so also should the
power of Congress to subsidize access to reproductive health
devices and services be impervious to similar constitutional
attacks.
In these Petitions filed pursuant to Rule 65 of the Revised
Rules of Court, the petitioners seek to facially nullify and
declare as unconstitutional the RH Law. With all due respect,
these petitions must fail based on jurisdictional and
prudential considerations.
First. An act of the legislature approved by the executive,
as in this case, is presumed to be constitutional.
5
Second. The legislature, in enacting the RH Law,
effectuated the constitutional prohibition against abortion. In
defining abortifacients, the legislature implements the
constitutional intent to protect life "from conception."
Third. The Congress, in providing that the National Drug
Formulary shall include "hormonal contraceptives, [and]
intrauterine devices (IUDs) ," has made a legislative finding of
fact that contraceptives and IUDs are "safe" and "non-
abortifacient." This finding, supported in the legislative records
by evidence-based medical and scientific testimony, is entitled
to great weight and deference by this Honorable Court.
For these above reasons, respondents most respectfully
submit that the Honorable Court decline exerc1s1ng
4
MDG 5: reduce the maternal and infant mortality and morbidity and achieve universal
access to reproductive health; http: I /www.un.org/millenniumgoals/maternal.shtml,
last accessed March 13, 2013.
5
People us. Jose 0. Vera, G.R. No. 45685, November 16, 1937.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
6
jurisdiction in this case. As enunciated by this Honorable
Court, through Justice Laurel, in Angara v. Electoral
Commission:6
xxx More than that, courts accord the presumption of
constitutionality to legislative enactments, not only
because the legislature is presumed to abide by the
Constitution but also because the judiciary in the
determination of actual cases and controversies must
reflect the wisdom and justice of the people as
expressed through their representatives in the executive
and legislative departments of the government.
STATEMENT OF RELEVANT ANTECEDENTS
1. Sometime in 1999, the first reproductive health bill,
House Bill No. 8110, entitled "Integrated Population and
Development Act of 1999" was proposed during the 11th
Congress.
2. After almost fourteen (14) years, or on December 21,
2012, President Benigno S. Aquino, III signed R.A. No. 10354
(RH Law) into law. The RH Law seeks to provide Filipinos with
information and universal access to essential reproductive
health care services and supplies.
3. Between January 2, 2013 and March 1, 2013, ten
(10) petitions and one (1) petition-in-intervention were filed
before this Honorable Court seeking to declare as
unconstitutional the RH Law in whole or in part.
ISSUES
JURISDICTIONAL AND PRUDENTIAL ISSUES
I.
WHETHER THE ALLEGATIONS IN THE
PETITIONS ARE SUFFICIENT TO TRIGGER THE
6 63 Phil. 39, July 15, 1936.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
HONORABLE COURT'S CERTIORARI
JURISDICTION AND JUDICIAL REVIEW POWERS.
SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES
II.
WHETHER SECTION 9 OF THE RH LAW IS
UNCONSTITUTIONAL:
a. For violating the right to life as
provided for under Section 12,
Article II of the Constitution;
b. For violating the right to health
under Section 15, Article II of the
Constitution;
c. For violating Section 11, Article XIII
of the Constitution on the State's
duty to adopt an integrated and
comprehensive approach to health
development;
d. For violating the right to protection
against hazardous products under
Section 9, Article XVI of the
Constitution;
e. For violating the regulation and
prohibition of monopolies under
Section 19, Article XII of the
Constitution;
III.
WHETHER SECTIONS 7, 15, 17, 23(A)(1),
23(A)(3), 23(B) AND 24 OF THE RH LAW ARE
UNCONSTITUTIONAL FOR VIOLATING THE
RIGHT TO FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION
UNDER SECTION 5, ARTICLE III OF THE
CONSTITUTION BY COMPELLING CERTAIN ACTS
THAT MAY BE CONTRARY TO PETITIONERS'
RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS.
7
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
IV.
WHETHER SECTIONS 23(A)(l) AND 23(B) AND 24
OF THE RH LAW ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL FOR
VIOLATING THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH AND
EXPRESSION UNDER SECTION 4, ARTICLE III
OF THE CONSTITUTION AND FOR VIOLATING
THE VOID FOR VAGUENESS DOCTRINE.
v.
WHETHER SECTION 14 OF THE RH LAW, WHICH
PROVIDES FOR MANDATORY REPRODUCTIVE
HEALTH EDUCATION, IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL:
a. For violating the natural and
primary right and duty of parents in
the rearing of the youth for civic
efficiency and the development of
moral character under Section 12,
Article II of the Constitution;
b. For the right of families or
family associations to participate in
the planning and implementation of
policies and programs affecting
them under Section 3(4), Article XV
of the Constitution;
c. For violating the right of educational
institutions to self-determination
under Section 4(1), Article XIV of the
Constitution;
VI.
WHETHER SECTION 3(H) OF THE RH LAW,
WHICH TAKES INTO CONSIDERATION THE
STATE'S OBLIGATION UNDER VARIOUS HUMAN
RIGHTS INSTRUMENTS, VIOLATES SECTION 2,
ARTICLE II OF THE CONSTITUTION WHICH
PROVIDES FOR THE ADOPTION OF THE
GENERALLY ACCEPTED PRINCIPLES OF
8
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
lmbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934, 204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
INTERNATIONAL LAW AS PART OF THE LAW OF
THE LAND.
VII.
WHETHER SECTIONS 2, 3(E), 4(L), 9 AND 19(C)
OF THE RH LAW, VESTING THE FOOD AND
DRUG ADMINISTRATION (FDA) WITH THE
AUTHORITY AND POWER TO EVALUATE,
REGISTER AND COVER HEALTH SERVICES AND
METHODS, CONSTITUTE AN UNDUE
DELEGATION OF LEGISLATIVE POWERS TO THE
FDA.
VIII.
WHETHER SECTION 17 OF THE RH LAW IS
UNCONSTITUTIONAL:
a. For violating the prohibition against
involuntary servitude under Section
18(2), Article II of the Constitution;
b. For violating the equal protection
clause;
IX.
WHETHER THERE IS A NECESSITY FOR THE RH
LAW CONSIDERING THAT THERE ARE OTHER
LAWS ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND MORE
PRESSING NATIONAL ISSUES OR CONCERNS.
X.
WHETHER CONTRACEPTIVES VIOLATE
NATURAL LAW.
ARGUMENTS/DISCUSSION
JURISDICTIONAL AND PRUDENTIAL AVERMENTS
9
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
10
The authority of this Honorable Court to decide
constitutional questions rests on preliminary jurisdictional
and prudential considerations necessary for the maintenance
of a constitutional democracy and the separation of powers,
ordained by the Constitution. They assume greater importance
given that it is this Honorable Court itself that determines
compliance with these jurisdictional requirements.
In Angara v. Electoral Commission/ this Honorable
Court, speaking through Justice Jose B. Laurel, reminded:
[the] power of judicial review is limited to actual cases
and controversies to be exercised after full opportunity
of argument by the parties, .. and limited further to the
constitutional question raised or the very lis mota
presented. Any attempt at abstraction could only lead to
dialectics and barren legal questions and to sterile
conclusions of wisdom, justice or expediency of
legislation. More than that, courts accord the
presumption of constitutionality to legislative
enactments, not only because the legislature is
presumed to abide by the Constitution but also because
the judiciary in the determination of actual cases and
controversies must reflect the wisdom and justice of the
people as expressed through their representatives in the
executive and legislative departments of the
government.s
The wisdom of Angara is textually provided in the
Constitution's grant of judicial power which is limited to the
authority "to settle actual controversies involving rights which
are legally demandable and enforceable."
9
With respect to this Honorable Court's powers under
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, resort to such extraordinary
remedy in relation to the exercise of this Court's judicial review
powers under Art. VIII, Sec.l of the Constitution is conditio:qed
on the existence of a "grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction."
7
G.R. No. L-45081, July 15, 1936 (63 Phil. 139).
8
Id.
9
The 1987 Constitution ofthe Republic ofthe Philippines, Article VIII, Section 1.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x--------------------------------------------------x
11
Following these basic premises, we submit that the
various petitions challenging the RH Law -an unimplemented
statute-make allegations insufficient to trigger this Honorable
Court's certiorari jurisdiction and judicial review powers.
The RH Law is the product of
a robust, transparent, and
participative democratic
process involving the elected
branches of government.
'
------------------------------------------ ~
First. Averments with respect to the democratic process.
What petitioners seek, through judicial intervention, is to
revise the result of the majoritarian democratic process. The
RH Law took almost a decade and a half to be enacted and it
reflects the choices made by the people through their elected
representatives.
This Honorable Court should not allow non-winners in
the democratic process to transform disagreements over policy
choices, rightfully decided through the majoritarian process,
into judicial issues. To borrow in part from hornbook
constitutional law, it never was the thought that a party
beaten in the legislature could transfer to the courts an
inquiry as to the constitutionality of a legislative act.
1
o
Second. Averments with respect to the content of the law.
The content of the RH Law is the result of a political
compromise reflective of the will of the democratic majority. Its
provisions reflect the careful balance that can only be struck
in a political chamber such as the Congress. We urge this
Honorable Court to respect the legislative and political
compromise that is the RH Law.
Third. Averments with respect to the legislative process.
Procedures that led to the enactment of the RH Law were
10
Ashwander v. Tennessee Valley Authority, 297 U.S. 288 (1936), cited in Lim v.
Paquing, G.R. No. 115044, January 27, 1995: "[i]t is a settled rule of avoidance,
judiciously framed by the United States Supreme Court in Ashwander v. TVA that
where a controversy may be settled on a platform other than one involving
constitutional adjudication, the court should exercise becoming modesty and avoid the
constitutional question."
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
12
characterized by an inordinate amount of transparency.
Perhaps no other piece of legislation drew extended attention
and participation.
This is not a case that calls for the Court to police the
democratic process g1ven that its results are 1n fact
participation-oriented and representation-reinforcing,
11
not
representation-restricting. We urge this Honorable Court not
to short-circuit the democratic process.
The RH Law is a social
welfare legislation that has
deep and plural
constitutional grounding.
First. Averments with respect to the constitutional
authority of Congress to pass the RH Law. The constitutional
grounding of the power of Congress to enact a social welfare
legislation is at once immense and diverse: Art XIII, 11
12
; Art
XIII, Sec. 113; Art II, Sec. 9
14
; Art II, Sec. 1 Q15; Art 11 Sec. 1116;
Art II, Sec. 14
17
; Art II, Sec. 15.
1
8
To be sure, the discretion to implement the constitutional
policies with respect to women, children, health, education,
etc. lies squarely with the legislature. The decision to create
and fund welfare programs require the kind of prioritization
II See John Hart Ely, Democracy and Distrust (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
1980).
12
The State shall adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health
development which shall endeavor to make essential goods, health and other social
services available to all people at affordable cost. There shall be priority for the needs of
the underprivileged, sick, elderly, disabled, women, and children.
13
The Congress shall give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect
and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity, reduce social, economic, and
political inequalities, and remove cultural inequities by equitably diffusing wealth and
political power for the common good.
14
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.
15
The State shall promote social justice in all phases of national development.
16
The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for
human rights.
1
7The State recognizes the role of women in nation-building, and shall ensure the
fundamental equality before the law of women and men.
1
BThe State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health
consciousness among them.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
13
that can only be achieved through the exercise of political will
uniquely lodged in the executive and legislative branches of
government.
We respectfully submit that the plural grounding of the
authority of Congress to enact the RH Law undermines the
argument that its passage constituted a grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the
part of the Congress and the President. This is one case where
the constitutional bases of the Congress' social welfare law
are, to use a famous phrase, "not open to rational question."
19
Second. Averments with respect to the power to review
social welfare legislation. This Honorable Court's powers to
interpret the Constitution is strongest in the area of so-called
negative rights such those found mostly in the Bill of Rights,
that part of the Constitution specifically meant for judicial
enforcement. This is because rights couched in negative form
are generally considered self-executing: they need no
implementing legislation and fall squarely within the
judiciary's usual checking functions. On the other hand, the
enforcement of the Constitution's positive norms (for example
those relating to health, housing, science, education, women,
children, youth) is generally held to be within the powers of
the political departments. This is because social welfare
principles involve the use of government resources and require
the government to prioritize its budget.
We respectfully submit that this Honorable Court's
certiorari power in relation to a government's social welfare
program is especially weak in the area of public subsidies for
privately-accessible goods, as in this particular case. In
essence, the RH Law is a government subsidy the goal of
which is to make privately-accessible reproductive health
devices publicly available. Just as the power of Congress to
remedy structural injustices by subsidizing access to
education, public utilities, housing and food are not lightly
open to constitutional attack, so also should be its power to
subsidize access to reproductive health devices and services.
19
See ,James Bradley Thayer, The Origin and Scope of the American Doctrine of
Constitutional Law, 7 Harv. L. Rev. 129 (1893).
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
14
We humbly submit that when the government
transforms private goods into public goods by subsidizing
access to the former so that a larger number of the population
may benefit from existing information and technology, all that
the government is doing is providing "those who have less in
life, more in law" which is the crux of social justice norrns
deeply entrenched in our Constitution.
The constitutional intent is
to prohibit the passage of an
abortion statute, not to
prohibit contraception.
First. Averments with respect to the Constitution's
specific policies on abortion and contraception. We note that
while what constitutes an abortion is clear under the
Constitution, what constitutes an abortifacient device was not
but left to the determination of Congress, which has the
institutional capacity to determine facts based on evidence
and the consensus of the scientific community.
When the Constitutional Commission adopted Art. II,
Sec. 12, providing protection for "the life of the unborn from
conception," the clear intent of those in favor of that clause
was to prevent the Supreme Court from creating a Roe v.
Wade
20
rule, that is, to deny granting women a right to
terminate their pregnancy under the trimester rule articulated
in that case.
21
It is also equally clear that the Constitutional
Commission, while constitutionalizing an anti-abortion policy,
did not adopt an anti-contraception policy, notwithstanding
the existence of contraceptives in the market in 1986.
Thus, the limits of the Congress' authority to enact the
RH Law should be tested by that standard which translates to:
{ 1) a judicially-enforceable check on the power of the
Congress to enact the kind of abortion legislation
2o 410 U.S. 113 ( 1 973).
21
See Joaquin Bernas, SJ, The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A
Commentary, (2003) p. 85.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
15
the U.S. Supreme Court allowed In Roe v. Wade;
and
{2) a deference to the authority of Congress to enact a
contraception statute grounded on its authority to
enforce the social welfare norms of the Constitution.
The Congress, employing its vast fact-finding and
investigative resources, received voluminous testimony and
evidence on whether contraceptives and contraceptive devices
are abortifacients. It thereafter made a finding that the use of
current reproductive health devices is not abortifacient. Such
finding of legislative of fact, which became the basis for the
enactment of the RH Law, should be entitled to great weight
and cannot be equated with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of the
Congress.
Second. Averments with respect to petitioners' allegations
about pills and IUDs. Whatever merit there may be to
petitioners' allegations about pills and IUDs and that their use
violates the unborn's right to life are lost when considered in
the light of the fact that pills and IUDs were already available
in the Philippines in 1986, when the members of the
Constitutional Commission drafted the 1987 Constitution.
That the Constitution did not prescribe any anti-contraception
rule can only mean that it adopted a permissive policy on
those types of contraceptive devices already in existence and
available in the Philippines at the time. This is the only
possible interpretation of the Constitution because, had it
intended to ban pills and IUDs, the Constitutional
Commission would have done so expressly.
A facial attack against the
RH Law is not appropriate.
All the petitioners seek the facial invalidity of the RH Law
primarily on the ground that it provides access to pills and
IUDs. This cannot be done.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
16
First. Averments in relation to the use of an ((on-its-face''
attack on legislation in general. Legitimate facial attacks upon
legislation constitute a rare exception to the exercise of this
Honorable Court's jurisdiction. This is the rule expressed in
Estrada v. Sandiganbayan22 where this Honorable Court had
an extended occasion to discuss on-its-face and as-applied
analysis in constitutional litigation.
The reason is simple: courts do not have jurisdiction to
engage in a facial scrutiny of legislation as its authority is
limited to "cases or controversies" involving injured parties.
Otherwise, courts would end up as "roving commissions"-
editors of legislative text and supervisors of the political
departments, the result of which would be to undermine the
separation of powers. This is why the judiciary's power to test
the validity of legislation can only be used "as applied," that is,
in instances where the force of law has been brought to bear
upon a person, thereby incidentally necessitating the use of
judicial review.
Second. Averments with respect to the inapplicability of
an {(on-its-face" attack on social welfare legislation. As declared
by this Honorable Court in Estrada v. Sandiganbayan,
inquiries into the facial validity of legislation apply only, as a
rare exception, to free speech cases, where the danger of a
chilling effect on the free expression of the general public is
sought to be avoided, thereby justifying the use of judicial
review to scrutinize statutes that restrict people's capacity to
speak.23
The RH Law is not a speech-related regulation; it is a
social welfare legislation that seeks to expand the range of
available choices for citizens through a system of subsidies,
and respects the freedom of choice of those who do not wish to
benefit from the subsidy.
Third. Avennents in relation to the facial compliance of
RH Law with the Constitution. The facial attack on the validity
of a statute cannot possibly be made against a law that is, by
the standards set by petitioners themselves, facially compliant.
22 G.R. No. 148560, November 19, 2001.
23 Id.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
17
Petitioners argue that the RH Law licenses the use of devices
which they believe are abortifacients. But the law clearly and
textually declares that only non-abortifacient substances will
be distributed by the government.2
4
24
Specifically, the following provisions of R.A. 10354 are significant to note (emphasis
supplieds:
SEC. 2. Declaration . of Policy. - The State recognizes and
guarantees the human rights of all persons including their right to
equality and non-discrimination 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.
XXX
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.
SEC. 3. Guiding Principles for Implementation. -This Act declares
the following as guiding principles:
XXX
(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
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
18
It is of public record that the multiple insertions of the
word "non-abortifacient" in the RH Law was a concession in
favor of the members of Congress who wanted assurances
from the majority about the nature of the reproductive health
devices the government will be allowed to distribute. The
clearly anti-abortion tone of the law is also attributable to
those who feared the law might be a license to permit
abortions. Given this textual compliance of the law with the
constitutional policy against abortion and its formal disavowal
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; xxx.
SEC. 4. Definition of Tenns. - 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.
XXX
(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.
XXX
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. xxx
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.
XXX
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.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et at.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
19
of abortifacient substances, it is difficult to imagine the
possibility of allowing a facial attack of the RH Law. A law that
reiterates the constitutional guarantees petitioners claim the
law violates cannot possibly be facially invalid.
Fourth. Averments with respect to the conditions for an
((as applied" challenge. If at all, the only attack that could be
lodged by the petitioners on the constitutionality of the RH
Law is "as applied." But this cannot be done unless two
conditions are complied with:
{ 1) that the law is actually enforced and applied against
injured parties; and
{2) that petitioners be able to indubitably show that the
government is distributing reproductive health
devices that are factually established to be
abortifacient substances
Petitioners clearly do not
have standing to question
the constitutionality of the
RH Law.
We respectfully submit that the constitutional
requirement of injury, that petitioners show a relationship
between their constitutional right and the action of the
government, be required in this case, as should be the case in
any other litigation of constitutional significance.
Ideological offense or abstract harm or philosophical
disagreement has never been recognized as injury in fact for
purposes of conferring standing in constitutional litigation. To
allow otherwise would be to let so-called non-Hohfeldian
plaintiffs
2
5 unnecessarily trigger this Honorable Court's
extraordinary jurisdiction.
25
See Louis L. Jaffe, 1968 "The Citizen as Litigant in Public Actions: The Non-Hohfeldian
or Ideological Plaintiff', 116 U. Pa. L. Rev., 1033 (1968).
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
20
In this case, the requirement of standing means that
petitioners show that the act of the government in providing
people who are willing to accept reproductive health devices
would result in injury to those who are unwilling to accept
such subsidy. Put otherwise, how does subsidy to the willing
injure the unwilling?
First. Averment with respect to standing to challenge
unimplemented statutes. :petitioners cannot possibly nave
constitutional standing to challenge a law that has not yet
been implemented. In Southern Hemisphere Engagement
Network v. Anti Terrorism Council,
26
the Court reiterated
the requirement of a direct and personal interest in the
outcome of the controversy, as well as actual or threatened
injury. As none among petitioners have borne whatever brunt
the law may have, it follows that none among them has been
injured in fact. Therefore, the various petitions before this
Honorable Court simultaneously present the classic situations
of non-ripeness and lack of a case or controversy. To rule
otherwise would be to corrupt the settled doctrine of locus
standi, as every worthy cause is an interest shared by the
general public.27
In addition, it is impossible to conceive of a situation
where petitioners' rights may be chilled by the existence of a
social welfare legislation. In the first place, the law does not
have a speech-component that may threaten potential
speakers. We are not faced with a legislation that penalizes
citizens for the content of their ideas. In the second place, the
right to reject government subsidy for reproductive health
services means that those who do not believe in government-
sponsored social welfare are operationally immune to the law's
impact.
Second. Averment with respect to petitioners' capacity to
sue as taxpayers. The Constitution requires, first, that the
taxpayer be able to establish a relationship between her status
and the taxing and spending powers of Congress and, second,
a relationship between that power of Congress and a specific
26
G.R. Nos. 178552, 178554, 178581, 178890, 179157 and 179461, October 05,2010,
632 SCRA 146.
27Jd.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
21
prohibition in the Constitution that operates as a limitation on
congressional power to tax and spend.2
8
In this case, petitioners insist that government subsidy
for reproductive health devices is unnecessary and redundant.
This is not sufficient because mere disagreement with the use
of government funds is not a constitutional basis for acquiring
standing. How the government prioritizes its budget is a
political matter for both Congress and the Executive
departments to decide. That the government may not have
decided to subsidize reproductive health services is not
equivalent to saying that the government cannot or has no
constitutional authority to engage in that activity.
Third. Averment with respect to petitioners' capacity to
sue in behalf of future generations. The decision in Oposa v.
Factoran
29
does not allow every petitioner a recourse before
this Honorable Court upon the mere invocation of the rights of
future generations. In fact, Oposa clearly countermands
petitioners' cause. What Oposa recognized was the possibility
of petitioners in that case being able to prove the sufficiency of
their cause of action, not that the invocation of the rights of
future generations was sufficient for a decision on the merits
before appellate courts. To be sure, Oposa was limited to the
issue of whether, for purposes of defeating a motion to dismiss
before the trial court, the invocation of the rights of future
generations is sufficient to confer standing on petitioners
therein. In any case, the applicability of Oposa to a legislation
meant to provide citizens access to what is available to the less
economically challenged 1nembers of the population is clearly
suspect.
Fourth. Averment in relation with petitioners' right to
enforce abstract constitutional policies. We respectfully submit
that the invocation of abstract constitutional norms is not
sufficient to clothe petitioners with standing. To be sure, the
legitimacy of any court's exercise of jurisdiction has a direct
relationship with the clarity of the norms it is enforcing. This
is why this Honorable Court is most powerful and credible
when applying the Constitution in those cases where the
constitutional command is clear, as embodied in the text,
2BF[ast v. Cohen, 392 US 83 (1942).
29Q.R. No. 101083,July30, 1993.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
lmbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
22
history, or structure of the Constitution. It is most vulnerable
when it ventures into areas that are reserved to the political
departments, (as in the case of social welfare legislation), and
when constitutional language and intent do not furnish
reasonable constraints to interpretation (as is the case of the
Constitution's policies on contraceptives).
As applied to this particular litigation, we submit that
standing to challenge a law based on an analogy to Oposa
would only be possible had Congress enacted an abortion
statute. Therefore, because the RH Law is not an abortion
statute, recourse to the ruling in Oposa should be unavailing.
Fifth. Averment with respect to ((transcendental
importance.)) While it is true that this Honorable Court has, in
some cases, adopted a liberal policy towards standing, noting
the so-called transcendental importance of the matter at hand,
we submit that, on the contrary, the present case calls for a
more deliberate scrutiny of petitioners' standing and the
observance of the settled rules on constitutional adjudication.
The notion of transcendental importance should be deployed
sparingly; we submit that it not be used as a justification for
dispensing with any justification for the exercise of this
Honorable Court's jurisdiction.
While the RH Law is an important piece of legislation, its
social, political and economic significance, standing alone, is
not sufficient to trigger this Honorable Court's certiorari
jurisdiction. Indeed, the RH Law's significance provides
justification for this Honorable Court to tread carefully and
assure itself of the necessity of providing a fully reasoned
argument as to why it should assume jurisdiction over this
case even as the law has not yet been implemented.
We invite this Honorable Court to note that the vanous
petitions before it raise abstract, philosophical, religious,
and/ or policy issues.
.
In Southern Hemisphere) the Court explained that not all
kinds of cases implicate transcendental importance. In fact,
in that case, this Honorable Court dismissed the various
petitions challenging the constitutionality of R.A. No. 9372 or
The Human Security Act of 2007 notwithstanding (1) the
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
23
implications of that law to civil and political rights, especially
the right of privacy and (2) the vigorous arguments of
petitioners therein which even included the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines.
We submit that, just as in Southern Hemisphere, the
jurisdiction of this Court to check the constitutional
validity of a statute, a centerpiece legislation no less, should
not be so easily triggered just because the law is important.
Put differently, the importance of law from a social and
economic standpoint should not be erroneously equated with
the transcendental importance exception to the exercise of this
Honorable Court's jurisdiction.
The petitions actually seek
declaratory relief, over which
this Court has no original
jurisdiction.
Averment with respect to the form of the petition. The
various allegations in the numerous petitions under
consideration are, in substance, petitions for declaratory relief
over which this Honorable Court does not have original
jurisdiction. Rule 63 of the Rules of Court provides:
Section 1. Who may file petition. - Any person interested
under a deed, will, contract or other written instrument,
whose rights are affected by a statute, executive order or
regulation, ordinance, or any other governmental
regulation may, before breach or violation thereof, bring
an action in the appropriate Regional Trial Court to
determine any question of construction or validity
arising, and for a declaration of his rights or duties,
thereunder.
The lessons in Galicto v. President Aquino III 3o and The
Liga ng Mga Barangay National v. The City Mayor of
Manila
31
and Southern Hemisphere emphasize this point.
In response to premature constitutional challenges against
3o G.R. No. 193978, February 28, 2012.
31 G.R. No. 154599, January 21, 2004.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
24
legislation and executive orders, this Honorable Court stated
in Liga:
... [A]lthough the instant petition is styled as a petition
for certiorari, in essence, it seeks the declaration by this
Court of the unconstitutionality or illegality of the
questioned ordinance and executive order. It, thus,
partakes of the nature of a petition for declaratory relief
over which this Court has only appellate, not original,
jurisdiction. 32
This Court also stated in Galicto: While we have
recognized in the past that we can exercise the discretion and
rulemaking authority we are granted under the Constitution,
and set aside procedural considerations to permit parties to
bring a suit before us at the first instance through certiorari
and/ or prohibition, this liberal policy remains to be an
exception to the general rule, and thus, has its limitS.33
Absent any tangible harm upon any specific party,
petitioners are essentially asking the Honorable Court to make
an abstract determination of their rights relative to the RH
Law and the Constitution. They ask for a determination of the
validity of the law, as well as whether specific contraceptive
substances or methods to be subsidized under the law are
actually abortifacients.
In this case, considering that: ( 1) the law has yet to be
implemented; (2) none of the petitioners have actually felt the
operative force of the law; and, (3) petitioners' arguments
about specific contraceptive devices may require expert,
scientific testimony, it makes even more sense to consider the
current cases as petitions for declaratory relief over which this
Honorable Court does not have jurisdiction.
The RH Law does not violate
the "one title-one subject"
rule under Section 26(1),
Article VI of the
Constitution.
32 !d.
33
Galicto us. Aquino, G.R. No. 193978, February 28, 2012.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
25
Averment with respect to the ((one title-one subject rule''.
Petitioners Echavez, et al. assert that reproductive health
and responsible parenthood are different subjects lumped
together by legislators in the legislative title of the challenged
law.
The constitutional provtston contains dual limitations
upon the legislature. First, the legislature is to refrain from
conglomeration in one statute of heterogeneous subjects.
Second, the title of the bill is to be couched in a language
sufficient to notify the legislators and the public and those
concerned of the import of the single subject thereof.
3
4
Contrary to the claim of petitioners, the concepts of
"responsible parenthood" and "reproductive health", as used
in the RH Law, are interrelated, even inseparable topics.
"Responsible parenthood" refers to the "will and ability of a
parent to respond to the needs and aspirations of the
family and children. It ~ s likewise a shared responsibility
between parents to determine and achieve the number of
children, spacing and timing of their children according
to their own family life aspirations, taking into account
physiological preparedness, health status, sociocultural
and economic concerns consistent with their religious
convictions."
35
The term also "refers to the rights and
obligations that all parents should exercise and perform vis-a-
vis their children."
36
On the other hand, "reproductive health"
as defined in the RH Law "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 to do so."37
Petitioners TFFLVI, et al. ask this Honorable Court to
take judicial notice of the Catholic doctrine on "responsible
parenthood" and how it allegedly materially differs from with
the term "responsible parenthood" as defined in the RH Law.
Petitioners claim that Congress inserted the phrase
34
Agpalo, Philippine Political Law, 2005 ed., p. 185.
35 Sec. 4(v), R.A. 10354; emphasis supplied.
36
Elizabeth Aguiling-Pangalangan, Issues in Family Law and Women's Rights, in Primer
on Legal Issues in Reproductive Rights, 11, 15-16 (2011); These rights and obligations
are found in the Family Code, Art. 220.
3
7
Sec. 4(p), R.A. 10354; emphasis supplied.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
26
"responsible parenthood" in the law to conform in terminology
to the prevailing Catholic doctrine on the same subject
matter, in order to mislead the people. The petitioners fail to
take heed of this Honorable Court's pronouncement on
matters entitled to judicial notice:
Generally speaking, matters of judicial notice have three
material requisites: (1) the matter must be one of
common and general knowledge; (2) it must be well and
authoritatively settled and not doubtful or uncertain;
and (3) it must be known to be within the limits of the
jurisdiction of the court. The principal guide in
determining what facts may be assumed to be judicially
known is that of notoriety. Hence, it can be said that
judicial notice is limited to facts evidenced by public .
records and facts of. general notoriety. Moreover, a
judicially noticed fact must be one not subject to a
reasonable dispute in that it is either: ( 1) generally
known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial
court; or (2) capable of accurate and ready
determination by resorting to sources whose accuracy
cannot reasonably be questionable.3B
The petitioners have insufficiently alleged facts that
would satisfY the test of notoriety of the Catholic doctrine on
"responsible parenthood." They only advert to the vigorous
and ceaseless preaching of the Roman Catholic Church on
"responsible parenthood" and that due to their advocacy, is in
the position to know the teachings of the Roman Catholic
Church on "responsible parenthood." But these matters
cannot even be rightfully "within the limits of the jurisdiction
of the court" for:
[t]he amendments of the constitution, restatement of
articles of religion and abandonment of faith or
abjuration ... having to do with faith, practice, doctrine,
form of worship, ecclesiastical law, custom and rule of a
church . . . are unquestionably ecclesiastical matters
which are outside the province of the civil courts. 39
Assuming all these matters may be taken judicial notice
of, the inclusion of "responsible parenthood" in the title of the
38
Expertravel & Tours, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals and Korean Airlines, G.R. No 152392,
May 26, 2005.
39
Fonacier vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L ~ 5 9 1 7 , January 28, 1955, 96 Phil. 417, 444;
citation omitted.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
lmbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
27
RH Law was not an attempt by Congress to mislead the
people about the true essence of the concept. Petitioners
TFFLVI, et al. cited previous bills filed in Congress and their
respective bill titles predating the RH Law to highlight the
"sudden" emergence of "responsible parenthood" in the title of
House Bill 4244, one of the introductory legislative bills of the
challenged law. What they failed to note was the evolution of
the definition of "responsible parenthood" from many f!-nd
different originating bills up until the time the challenged law
was passed by Congress.4
The petitioners are also less than candid to this
Honorable Court, when they aver that, after the definition of
responsible parenthood in Section 4 (v), "responsible
parenthood" is only mentioned in the title of Section 11 and in
the body of Section 15. For them, this is an indication of how
ill-conceived and how insignificant responsible parenthood in
the overall context of the law is. This is patently false. The RH
Law, including its formal title, shows that the term
40 To illustrate:
Section 3 (i) of House Bill No. 8110 defined "responsible parenthood"
as "the will and the ability to respond to the needs and aspirations of the
family and the children."
Section 3 (f) of House Bill No. 4110 defined "responsible parenthood"
as "the will and the ability to respond to the needs and aspirations of the
family and children."
Section 4 (f) of Senate Bill No. 1280 defined "responsible parenthood"
as "the will and the ability to respond to the needs and aspirations of the
family and children."
Section 4 (a) of House Bill No. 5043 defined "responsible parenthood"
as "the will, ability and commitment of parents to respond to the needs
and aspirations of the family and children more particularly through
family planning."
Section 4 (u) of Senate Bill No. 2865 defined "responsible parenthood"
as "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, socio-cultural, and economic concerns."
Section 4 of House Bill No. 4244 defined "responsible parenthood" as
"the will, ability and commitment of parents to adequately respond to the
needs and aspirations of the family and children by responsibly and
freely exercising reproductive health rights."
Section 4 (v) of Republic Act No. 10354 now defines "responsible
parenthood" as "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."
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x------------------------------,--------------------x
28
"responsible parenthood" appears fourteen ( 14) times within
the statute.
41
In addition, after Section 4 (v), "responsible
parenthood" appears subsequently in sections other than
Section 11 and Section 15, namely in Sections 14, 15, 19, 20
and 25.
The RH Law does not violate
the right to life provision
under Section 12, Article II
of the Constitution.
The RH LauJ promotes access to
contraceptives and not
abortifacients. That a
contraceptive zs not an
abortifacient is a legislative
determination that is entitled to
judicial deference.
First. There is nothing in the text of the RH Law that
promotes abortion or even the use of abortifacient devices or
substances.
The Constitution prohibits abortion. Section 12, Article II
provides that:
The State xxx 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.
This constitutional provision is not self-executing. Thus,
in crafting the RH Law, Congress faithfully implemented the
intent of the constitutional framers to prohibit abortion and to
protect the unborn from conception. This is reflected in the
Declaration of Policy and Guiding Principles of the law:
41
Aside from appearing in "An Act Providing for a National Police on Responsible
Parenthood and Reproductive Health," the term "responsible parenthood" appears once
in sections 1, 4, 11, 14, 15, 19 and 20 and appears twice in sections 2, 3, and 25 of
R.A. No. 10354.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et at., vs. Ochoa, et at.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
Section 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.
XXX XXX XXX
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.
42
Section 3. Guiding Principles for Implementation. -
This Act declares the following as guiding principles:
XXX XXX XXX
(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;43
(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
4
2 Emphasis and underscoring supplied.
43 Id.
29
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
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;44
30
Clearly what the law allows is the distribution of non-
abortifacients or any drug or device which by the express
terms of the statute, do not induce or result in abortion:
Section 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.
The other sections of the RH Law uniformly and
repeatedly show that the intention of the Congress is to
provide the public access to a full range of modern farnily
planning products and supplies which are not abortifacients:
Section 4. Definition of Tenns. - For the purpose of this
Act, the following terms shall be defined as follows:
XXX XXX XXX
(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 modern natural and artificial
methods of planning pregnancy.
XXX XXX XXX
(1) Modern methods of family planning refers to safe,
effective, non-abortifacient and legal methods, whether
44 Id; emphasis supplied.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X--------------------------------------------------cX
natural or artificial; that are registered with the FDA, to
plan pregnancy. 45
Section 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:
XXX XXX XXX
(2) Ensure people's access to medically safe,
non-abortifacient, legal, quality and affordable
reproductive health goods and services; and46
XXX XXX XXX
31
Thus, it cannot be overemphasized that Congress, in
enacting the RH Law, faithfully adhered to the constitutional
proscription against abortion and the mandate to protect the
life of the unborn from conception. 47
Second. Congress has made a legislative finding of fact
that contraceptives are not abortifactients. This finding of fact
is entitled to the highest respect and deference from the
Honorable Court.
In providing under Section 9 of the RH Law that
"hormonal contraceptive devices, injectables and other safe,
legal, non-abortifacient and effective planning products and
supplies" be included in the National Drug Formulary,
Congress made a legislative determination that contraceptives
are not abortifacients. 48
45 Id.
46 Emphasis supplied.
47 Sec. 2 of R.A. No. 10354.
48 Sec 9 of R.A. No. 10354:
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
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
32
Congress arrived at this conclusion after receiving, over
the years, evidence, submissions, expert testimonies and
position papers on the distinction between contraceptives and
abortifacients in terms of their primary mechanisms of action.
Central to the evidence made available to and weighed by
Congress was the expert op1n1on of the World Health
Organization (WHO). The WHO is the directing and
coordinating authority for health of the United Nations. Among
others, it is responsible for articulating "evidence-based"
public health policy options for the member countries.
The House of Representatives and the Senate separately
sought the opinion of the WHO on the RH bills, mainly on the
key issue of whether contraceptives are abortifacients. The
WHO consistently expressed to Congress its "evidence-based"
expert advice that hormonal oral contraceptives, like the pill,
"prevent ovulation" and that IUDs "prevent fertilization," but
that both methods cannot be labeled as "abortifacients."
In 2006, the Committee on Revision of Laws of the House
of Representatives requested the WHO to submit a position
paper on House Bill No. 4643. On November 7, 2006, the WHO
submitted its "Expert Opinion on House Bill No. 4643 on
Abortive Substances and Devices in the Philippines," a copy of
which is attached as Annex 1. In the document, the WHO
categorically stated that "contraceptives are not
abortifacients." (Annex 1, at p. 2):
XXX XXX XXX
Mechanisms of Action for selected contraceptive
drugs and devices
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.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R.Nos.204819,204934,204957, 205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
1. Combined Hormonal Methods (oral contraceptives
and Evra patch): There has been a growing body of
evidence for more than four decades indicating that
administration of combined oral contraceptives (COC)
inhibits follicular development and ovulation, and that
this is their primary mechanism of action (Mishell et al.
1977; Kilick et al. 1987; Rivera et al. 1999). They also
affect cervical mucus, making it thicker and more
difficult for sperm to penetrate. This effect may also
contribute to their high efficacy (Rivera et al. 1999).
Although it is known that there are changes in the
endometrium during combined oral contraceptive (COC)
use, no evidence to date has supported the hypothesis
that these changes lead to disruption of implantation.
Given the high efficacy of COCs in preventing ovulation, .
it is very unlikely that "interference with implantation"
is a "primary mechanism" of contraceptive action.
4
9
The same mechanism of action also applies to Evra
patch.
2. Progestin-only Methods (Depo Provera,
minipills, implants): Progestin-only methods also
inhibit follicular development and ovulation although
the level of this effect varies for different progestin-only
methods and among individuals. For Depo Provera, the
level of ovarian suppression is very high; therefore
inhibition of ovulation is the primary mechanism of
action (Rivera et al. 1999). However, about 40% of
women on the minipill may ovulate (Landgren and
Diczfalusy 1980).
A second contraceptive effect of progestin-only method
is the change they make to cervical mucus, including
increasing its viscosity and cell content, reducing its
volume and altering its pH, proteins and molecular
structure. This makes it "hostile" and impenetrable to
sperm (Moghissi et al. 1973). These changes are likely to
play a more important role in the mechanism of
contraceptive action of minipills and implants.
Progestin-only methods also cause changes in the
endometrium. However, these changes show great
variability an1ong patients, from atrophy to normal
secretory structures. There is no direct evidence that
suggests a relationship between endometrial structure
49 Emphasis supplied.
33
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
and contraceptive effectiveness of these methods.
3. Emergency Contraception (morning-after pills,
levonorgestrel, levonorgestrel 2): Levonorgestrel
emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) have been shown
to prevent ovulation and they do not have any
detectable effect on the endometrium (uterine lining) or
progesterone levels when given after ovulation. ECPs are
not effective once the. process of implantation has
begun, and will not cause abortion (WHO 2005; Marions
L et al. 2002; Durand M et. al. 2001; Croxatto HB et al.
2004).
4. Intrauterine Devices (IUD): The major effect of all
IUDs is to induce a local inflammatory reaction in the
uterine cavity. During the use of copper-releasing IUDs
the reaction is enhanced by the release of copper ions
into the luminal fluids of the genital tract, which is toxic
to sperm (Ortiz 1978: Seseru and Carnacho-Ortega
1972; Ullman and Hammerstein 1972). In these users,
it is likely that few sperm reach the tubes and those
that do reach them have low fertilizing power.
In addition, studies on recovery of eggs from women
using copper-bearing IUDs and from women not using
any method of contraception show that rates of embryos
formed in the tubes are much lower in copper-bearing
IUD users than those not using any contraception
(Alvarez et al. 1988). Thus, the hypothesis that the
primary mechanism of copper-bearing IUDs in women is
destruction of embryos in the uterus (i.e., abortion) is
not sup-gorted by available evidence.so
When used appropriately by adequately trained staff, an
IUD does not cause abortion, as it is not going to be
inserted unless it is certain that the woman is not
pregnant.
All the above mentioned methods (combined hormonal
methods, including pills and Evra patch; progestin-only
methods, including DEPO Provera, implants, and
minipills; emergency contraception pills; and,
intrauterine devices) directly or indirectly have effects
on the endometrium that may hypothetically prevent
implantation, however, there is no scientific evidence
supporting this possibility. When used appropriately
5o Emphasis supplied.
34
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
and 1n doses/ways recommended, none of these
methods have been shown to cause the abortion of an
implanted fetus. Therefore they cannot be labeled as
abortifacients. The contraceptive drugs and devices
contradicts both WHO's evidence-based international
standards on the mechanisms of action and the drug
and device labeling in the WHO Model List of Essential
Medicines (2005).51
XXX XXX XXX
35
Prior to Senator Pia S. Cayetano's sponsorship speech on
June 7, 2011, she requested on October 7, 2010 for a position
paper on Senate Bill No. 2378 from the WH0.
52
The WHO
submitted on February 28, 2011 a "Position Paper on Senate
Bill 2378" dated October 27, 2010, a copy of which is attached
as Annex 2. In said Position Paper, the WHO reiterated in
whole its earlier expert advice submitted to the House of
Representatives.
In the same vein, on December 14, 2010, Representative
Edcel C. Lagman, co-author of House Bill No. 4244, requested
the WHO to provide answers in relation to queries raised in
the public hearings being conducted on six versions of the
Reproductive Health Bill. In reply, the WHO submitted a
"Response to Queries Related to Reproductive Health Bills as
Requested by Han. Edcel C. Lagman," a copy of which is
attached as Annex 3. In its reply, the WHO stated:
XXX XXX XXX
Are contraceptives like pills, injectables and IUDs
capable of terminating an existing pregnancy?
The present evidence on the mechanism of action of
contraceptive pills and injectables is the prevention of
ovulation. Thus, these do not have a terminating effect
on an implanted ovum, as there is no fertilized ovum or
even an ovum fertilize, to begin with. Current evidence
also demonstrates that there is no effect by
contraceptive pill or other hormonal contraceptives on
an already implanted fertilized ovum.53
51 Emphasis supplied.
52 One of the Senate Bills substituted by Senate Bill No. 2865.
53 Emphasis supplied.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
Studies on the recovery of eggs from women using
copper-bearing IUDs and from women not using any
method of contraception show that rates of embryos
formation in the tubes are much lower in copper-
bearing IUD users than those not using contraception
(Alvarez et al. 1988). Thus, the hypothesis that the
primary mechanism of copper-bearing IUDs in women is
destruction of embryos in the uterus (i.e., abortion} is
not supported by available evidence. When used
appropriately by adequately trained staff, an IUD does
not cause abortion, as it is not going to be inserted
unless it is certain that the woman is not pregnant.54
XXX XXX XXX
Is there any hard evidence to prove the hypothesis
that hormonal contraceptives can prevent the
implantation of a fertilized egg?
Combined hormonal methods directly or indirectly have
effects on the endometrium that may hypothetically
prevent implantation, however there is no scientific
evidence supporting this possibility. When used
appropriately and in dosesjways recommended, none of
these methods have been shown to cause the abortion
of an implanted fetus.ss
XXX XXX XXX
'36
Not content with the above expert advice, Representative
Lagrnan, on June 2, 2011, again wrote the WHO and asked
three (3) more specific clarificatory questions, to which the
WHO replied in a letter dated June 6, 2011 and signed by Dr.
Soe Nyunt-U, the WHO Country Representative to the
Philippines. A copy of the WHO letter is attached as Annex 4.
In said letter, the WHO said:
XXX XXX XXX
Question 1: While it is generally acknowledged that the
two mechanisms of contraceptives consist of (a)
preventing ovulation; and (2) preventing the sperm from
fertilizing the egg, some say there is a third mechanism,
54 Emphasis supplied.
55 Emphasis supplied.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et at.,
G.R.Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
which is to prevent the implantation of the fertilized
ovum. Has this "third" mechanism been validated by
clinical studies or is this a gratuitous claim by some pill
and IUD manufacturers for commercial reasons?
Answer: To date, there is no scientific evidence
supporting the contention that hormonal contraceptives
and IUDs prevent implantation of the fertilized ovum.
While hormonal contraceptives directly or indirectly
have effects on the endometrium that may
hypothetically prevent implantation, there is already
strong evidence on the primary mechanism of action of
the following contraceptives:56
1. Combined oral contraceptives work primarily by
preventing the release of eggs from the ovaries
(ovulation) (WHO, 2007; Mishell et al. 1977; Killick et
al. 1987; Rivera et al. 1999)57
2. Progesterone only contraceptives work primarily
by thickening cervical mucus (this blocks sperm from
meeting an egg) and preventing the release of eggs
from the ovaries (ovulation) (WHO, 2007; Rivera et al.
1999; Moghissi et al. 1973).58
3. Levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pills (ECP)
works primarily by preventing or delaying the release
of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation). It does not work
if a woman is already pregnant (WHO 2007; Marion L et
al. 2002; Durand M et al. 2001; Croxatto HB et al.
2004).
59
4. Copper-bearing Intrauterine Device (IUD) work
primarily by causing a chemical change that damage
sperm and egg before they can meet (WHO, 2007;
Ortiz 1996; Seseru and Carnacho-Ortega 1972; Ullman
and Hammerstein 1972). There were NO fertilized or
normally dividing eggs recovered from women using the
copper-bearing IUD in contrast to women who were not
using contraception. (Alvarez et al. 1988). In addition,
human chorionic gonadotropin (hcG), the hormone that
increases in pregnancy, was absent in the serum of
women of use IUDs (Segal et al. 1985). Lastly, IUD users
have a marked decrease in the risk of ectopic
5
6 Emphasis supplied.
57 Emphasis supplied.
58 Emphasis supplied.
59 Emphasis supplied.
37
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
lmbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
pregnancies, which implies that IUDs inhibit
fertilization (Grimes, 2004). Thus, the available evidence
supports the hypothesis that the primary mechanism of
action of copper-bearing IUDs in women is the
prevention of fertilization and not the destruction of
embryos in the uterus.6o
Question 2: Does the thinning of the endometrium by
hormonal contraceptives have any contraceptive effect?
Answer: The answer is not known to date.
Although it is known that there are changes in the
endometrium during combined oral contraceptive (COC)
use, no evidence to date has supported the hypothesis
that these changes lead to disruption of implantation.
Given the high efficacy of COCs in preventing ovulation,
interference with implantation is not likely to be a
primary mechanism of contraceptive action because
there would not have been fertilization in the first
place.61
Progestin-only methods also cause changes in the
endometrium. However, these changes show great
variability among patients, from atrophy ("thinned out")
to normal. There is no direct evidence that suggests a
relationship between endometrial structure and
contraceptive effectiveness of these methods.
Question 3: If there is fertilization and subsequent
implantation, will continued use of contraceptives result
in abortion or harm the fetus?
Answer: No. There is no evidence of risk of congenital
anomalies from combined oral contraceptives and
progestin only contraceptives. There is no evidence of
abortion from combined oral contraceptives and
progestin only (WHO 2007; Bracken
1990).
Good evidence shows that Levonorgestrel emergency
contraceptive pills (ECPs) will not cause birth defects
and will not otherwise harm the fetus if a woman is
already pregnant when she takes ECPs or if ECPs fail to
prevent pregnancy. Levonorgestrel does not have any
detectable effect on the endometrium (uterine lining) or
6o Emphasis supplied.
61 Emphasis supplied.
38
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
progesterone levels when g1ven after ovulation.
Levonorgestrel is not effective once the process of
in1plantation has begun, and will not cause abortion
(WHO 2007; Marions L et al. 2002; Durand M et al.
2001; Croxatto HB et al. 2004).
XXX XXX XXX
39
In addition to the WHO op1n1ons, Congress also
evaluated the views of Filipino medical experts.
On September 21, 2011, during the Senate deliberations,
Senator Pia S. Cayetano presented the expert opinion of the
Universal Health Care (UHC) Study Group,
62
an organization
of twenty four (24) Filipino and Philippine-based experts from
diverse scientific fields63:
SENATOR CAYETANO. xxx Finally, Mr. President, let me
just put on the record-last week I read into the
Record-the Medical Experts Declaration on Action of
Contraceptives. This is signed by 24 medical experts in
our country. And the Record of the Senate already has
their names. It is basically headed by the current
Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Ona, former
Secretary of Health and Secretary of DSWD, Dr. Cabral,
former Secretary of Health, Dr. Romualdez and many
others, as I said 24 health experts. And let me just read
conclusions 1, 2, and 3. This is, by the way, a
declaration. Well, let me read it: "Medical Experts
Declaration on the Actions of Contraceptives: On
Monday, 8 August 2011, 21 experts from diverse
scientific fields including biochemistry, physiology,
pharmacology, obstetrics and gynecology, reproductive
endocrinology and in fertility, internal medicine,
demography and public health gathered to examine
raging questions on pregnancy and contraception
applying scientific and evidence-based analysis. These
are our conclusions:.
1. Conception is not an exact scientific term.
For some, it means implantation. For
others, it is an event that occurs at some
62
Formed under the aegis of the U.P. National Institutes of Health, Manila,
http: /lwww. universalhealthcare.ph/, last accessed April 28, 2013.
63
Senate Deliberations dated September 21, 2011 (4551921), pp. 2-5.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
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time after fertilization. No one at the
meeting equates conception with
fertilization.
2. Fertilization encompasses the process of
penetration of the egg cell by the sperm
cell in the contamination of their genetic
material to form the fertilized egg or the
zygote. The process is estimated to take
about 24 hours. At present, there is no
accepted laboratory or clinical method of
determining if and exactly when natural
fertilization has taken place. But we
accept that it has occurred after a
pregnancy has been detected. Natural
laws (sic) occur all the time. 33o/o to 50/o
of all fertilized eggs never implant without
the woman doing or taking anything.
3. All contraceptives including hormonal
contraceptives and IUDs have been
demonstrated by laboratory and clinical
studies to act primarily prior to
fertilization. Hormonal contraceptives
prevent ovulation and makes cervical
mucus impenetrable to sperm. Medicated
IUDs act like hormonal contraceptives.
Copper IUDs incapacitate sperm and
prevent fertilization.xxx
40
On November 24, 2010 Mr. Santiago Del Rosario, former
President of Philippine Obstetric and Gynecological Society an
internationally recognized organization in the field of
reproductive health6
4
, and of the Philippine Medical
Association, the premier organization of all physicians in the
Philippines
65
, testified before the House of Representatives
Committee on Population and Family Relations, on the cause
of the contraceptive pill:
XXX XXX XXX
Number one, contraceptive pill do (sic) not
cause abortion. In fact, they prevent unwanted
64
http: //www.QQgsinc.org/v2/indexa.php/about-us/mission-and-vision, last accessed
May 3, 2013.
65
h ttps: II www. philippinemedicalassociation. org/ pma -mission-vision. php, last accessed
May 3, 2013
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pregnancies. Hence, there is nothing to abort.
Contraceptive pills do not cause death and disease. The
hormones and pills are mostly synthetic duplicates of
hormones produced by women of reproductive age
group.xxx
41
On December 15, 2010, Ms. RectaL. Pichay, President of
the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society testified
before the Committee on Population and Family Relations
Hearing. She reasserted and reiterated the earlier position of
Mr. Santiago:
XXX XXX XXX
For clarification, we have this to say: there is
much disinformation and misconception in media and
other for on the following issues: I would like to state
that contraceptive pills do not cause abortion. In fact,
they prevent unwanted pregnancies, here there is
nothing to abort. They do not cause death and disease
when used appropriately. Pregnancy and childbirth
cause more deaths and disability than taking oral
contraceptives.
The hormones in the pills are synthetic hormones
that are compatible to those produced by women's
ovaries. They are mollified in doses and composition to
make them better, safer, unpredictable (sic) in their
medical effects. Contraceptive pills do not cause cancer.
In fact, they reduce cancer of the endometrium and
ovaries. The reported slight increase in the risk for
breast cancer is obviated by taking pills based on the
national clinical guidelines.
XXX XXX XXX
The Society for the Advancement of Reproductive Health-
Philippines, which is composed of medical experts and allied
health professionals in the field of reproduction,
contraception, family planning and obstetrics care also
submitted its position paper, which states in pertinent part:
XXX XXX XXX
Contraceptives are essential medicines. The World
Health Organization has included contraceptives in the
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list of most efficacious, safe and cost-effective medicines
for priority conditions. Contraception can prevent
unplanned and high risk pregnancies as well as protect
against sexually transmitted diseases.
Contraceptive are not abortifacient. Contraceptives
act before fertilization and does not cause abortion (sic).
XXX XXX XXX
42
After weighing the foregoing evidence-based expert advice
and tesimony, Congress arrived at the legislative
determination that contraceptives are not abortifacients.
The lawmaking power is lodged with Congress.
Indispensable to the exercise of this power is its factfinding
function. "From the institutional competence perspective, the
legislature's superior capacity to collect evidence-stemming
from its committee system, larger staffs, and research arms-
gives it a comparative advantage over the judiciary in the
generalized factfinding that informs legislation. "66
In the context of the Constitution, on the other hand, this
indispensable role vests Congress with the exclusive function
of weighing conflicting evidence in order to make, amend and
repeal laws. This is known as the principle of separation of
powers, which ordains that each of the three great branches of
government has exclusive cognizance of and is supreme in
matters falling within its own constitutionally allocated
sphere.67
The legislative finding that contraceptives are not
abortifacients is a collective, purposive judgment of one
branch of government, supported by strong factual and
scientific evidence here and abroad, and which evidence is
found in the legislative record. As such, no grave abuse of
discretion can be ascribed to Congress for enacting the RH
Law. Hence, we respectfully beseech this Honorable Court to
defer to the finding of the Congress.
66
Judicial Review of Congressional Factfinding, Harvard Law Review, Vol. 122, No. 2
(2008), pp. 767, 768.
67 Abakada Guro Party List vs. Ennita, 469 SCRA 14, September 01, 2005.
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43
It is respectfully submitted that this deference is also
essential given the perils at stake to do otherwise. To exercise
judicial review of the RH Law will entail a re-assessment and
re-weighing of the evidence which has already been extensively
assessed and weighed over a long period of time by Congress.
Petitioners' claims that contraceptives are abortifacients are
anecdotal and rehash arguments which Congress has already
rejected in favor of the evidence-based expert opinions of the
WHO and leading Filipino experts. More significantly, this
determination made by Congress reflects the "wisdom and
justice of the people" as it is the determination of the duly
elected representatives of the people 1n the legislative
department of government. 68
Further, the countervailing arguments now being
proffered by petitioners unto this Honorable Court are based
on factual allegations extrinsic from the legislative record and
run the risk of being inaccurate and misleading.
To illustrate, in contending that IUDs may also prevent
implantation, petitioner ALFI, et. al. cited a medical reference
book Williams Obstetrics (but without any page reference):
The mechanism of an IUD includes prevention of
implantation of the fertilized ovum. While IUDs may also
be capable of preventing fertilization, its ability to
prevent implamantation of the fertilized ovum is likewise
established. In short, an IUD, by its very nature, has
the ability to prevent irpplantation of the fertilized ovum
in the uterus.69
The citation however was conveniently misquoted from
the text. The full passage is quoted below:
These mechanisms have not been precisely
defined and are a subject of ongoing debate. At one
time, interference with successful implantation of
the fertilized ovum was believed to be the main
mode IUD action but now is considered less
important than its prevention of fertilization.
(Stanford and Mikolajczyk, 2002)
68
Angara vs. Electoral Commission, et al., G.R. No. L-45081, July 15, 1936.
69 ALFI, G.R. No. 204934, pp. 21.
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Within the uterus, an intense local endometrial
inflammatory response is induced, especially by copper-
containing devices. Cellular and humoral components of
this inflammation are expressed in edonmetrial tissue
and in fluid filling the uterine cavity and fallopian tubes.
These lead to decreased sperm viability and egg
viability (Ortiz and Croxatto, 2007). In the unlikely event
that fertilization does occur, the same inflammatory
actions are directed against the blastocyst, and the
endometrium is transformed into a hostile site for
implantation. With copper IUD, copper levels increase in
the mucus of users and lower sperm motility and
viability (Jecht and Bernstein, 1973).
With the LNG-IUS, in addition to inflammatory
reaction, progestin release in long-time users causes
glandular atrophy and stormal decidualization.
Moreover, progestins create scant viscous cervical
mucus that hinders sperm motility. The LNG-IUS may
also inconsistently release sufficient progestin to inhibit
ovulation.
44
The above illustrates how the petitioner ALFI, et. al: cite
anecdotal, non-evidence based arguments that are presented
for the first time before this Honorable Court, and are not part
of the legislative record. Essentially, petitioners argue that,
despite the legislative finding of Congress, some authors claim
that contraceptives and IUDs may prevent the implantation of
the fertilized ovum in the uterine wall.
The question then becomes: do the petitions present a
matter of medical uncertainty in the matter of the primary
mechanism of contraceptives and IUDs? Respondents say they
do not, based on the evidence presented to Congress. But
assuming absolute scientific and medical certainty is not
possible, this does not foreclose Congress from enacting the
RH Law in the areas of science and medicine. "When Congress
undertakes to act in areas fraught with medical and scientific
uncertainties, legislative options must be especially broad and
courts should be cau.tious not to rewrite legislation, even
assuming arguendo, that judges with more direct exposure to
the problem might make wiser choices."7
7
0 Marshall v. United States, 414 US 417,427 (1974).
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45
Judicial deference to congressional factfinding becomes
all the more imperative. The lack of capacity in marshalling
evidence and the absence of fealty to the electorate assert this
position. In any case, a court undertaking its own factfinding
cannot be certain whether its determination is any better than
that of Congress. 71
Respondents only ask this Honorable Court to stay its
hand and defer to Congress only for now, in these present
petitions which pose facial attacks on the RH Law. Judicial
participation is not entirely discounted. There are matters,
such as the determination of whether a particular drug or
device is an abortifacient outlawed under Section 4 of the RH
Law, which may properly be subject of judicial determination
in an actual and concrete case. In this manner, both the
Congress and this Honorable Court are assured their rightful
roles in constitution interpretation, and "such dialogue
between branches is the agar of a vibrant constitutional
democracy."
72
Emergency contraceptive pills
or abortifacients may be
allowed only for therapeutic
purposes and not for the
purpose ofinducing abortion.
As explained by Senator Cayetano 1n her sponsorship
speech dated June 7, 2011:73
Mr. President, some groups would have the Senate
arrogate upon itself the power to define, classify, allow
or ban contraceptives. But this is clearly the jurisdiction
of the FDA, a government agency that falls under the
DOH which is part of the Executive branch. It is the
FDA that has been tasked by law, among others to
determine the efficacy of all drugs and medical devices,
define what are abortifacients are and how their use is
to be regulated. It is the entity with the scientific and
71
Judicial Review of Congressional Factfinding, Harvard Law Review, Vol. 122, No. 2
(Dec., 2008), pp. 767-786
72 Ibid, at P. 786.
73
Senate Journal, Session No. 93, June 7, 2011, pp. 1525-1530;
http://senatorpiacayetano.com/?p=412, last accessed on February 23, 2013.
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technical ability to do that job.
So why not simply put a statement in the bill
banning all abortifacients? Would that not simplify this
debate? It sounds tempting, Mr. President. But I
humbly submit it will not simplify this debate. Why?
Because medicine is a technical field. And without the
appropriate scientific background, we, as legislators
who are not medical experts, could easily make
mistakes and kill mothers and their babies instead of
saving their lives.
Allow me to explain. A careless phrase like "no
drug known to be an abortifacient will be made
available in the Philippines" sounds like a statement
we could all support. But what most of us do not
understand is the fact that many life-saving drugs
are made available to an ailing mother to address
her medical condition although there is a possibility
that they may be harmful to a pregnant mother and
her fetus. Thus, we have for instance, drugs for
diseases of the heart, hypertension, seizures, ulcers
and even acne, all of which are to be taken only
under doctors' prescription and supervision
precisely because of their harmful effects.
Making a blanket statement banning all
medicines classified as abortifacients would put all
these mothers and their children's lives in greater
danger. For decades, these mothers have relied on
these medicines to keep them alive. I would like to give
another example. A known abortifacient, misoprostol
commonly known as cytotec, is one of the drugs
that can save a mother's life. I am talking about a
mother who just gave birth but has internal
hemorrhage and in danger of bleeding to death. Her
child has been born. Her child will live but she will
die without this drug to stop her bleeding. Are we
now to ban the use of this drug? Are we now to say
that because it could possibly be used as an
abortifacient, it could possibly be abused, this
mother must now die despite giving birth to a
healthy baby?
Mr. President, we clearly need to make
distinctions. These life saving drugs SHOULD NOT BE
USED on any circumstances for purposes of carrying
out an abortion. But under strict guidelines by the
46
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FDA, they can be used by a health practitioner to
save a mother's life.74
47
Clearly, in enacting RH Law, Congress did not intend
to provide an indiscriminate and sweeping statement
prohibiting all medicines that may have abortifacient effects.
To recapitulate Senator Cayetano's point, it will be absurd to
forbid an drug which could otherwise
save the life a person.
The RH Law prohibits a physician or medical practitioner
from prescribing any drug with abortifacient effects, unless the
pregnant woman's physical or physiological condition requires
it for therapeutic purposes. 7s Thus, allowing, by way of
exception, certain drugs known to have abortifacient effects to
be used for curative purposes does not mean that the RH Law
promotes abortion. On the contrary, it seeks to protect and
save the life of a mother.
The RH Law does not restrict
poor couples or women from
having children.
Congress did not state that the poor shall have no right
to bring forth children. The following exchanges between
Representative Edcel Lagman and Representative Amado
Bagatsing during the period of amendments in the House of
Representatives on December 5, 2012 are instructive:
REP. BAGATSING. Anyway, the amendment of the
Gentleman from Batangas was lost, I would like to
proceed to the next line, Mr. Speaker, if there is no
anterior amendment.
On line 3 ...
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Rep. Tafiada). Line 3
REP. BAGATSING .... which states:
THE STATE SHALL ALSO PROMOTE
74 Emphasis supplied.
75 Sec. 3U) of R.A. No. 10354.
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OPENNESS TO LIFE, PROVIDED THAT
PARENTS BRING FORTH TO THE WORLD
ONLY THOSE CHILDREN THAT THEY CAN
RAISE IN A TRULY HUMANE WAY.
Is this correct, Mr. Sponsor?
REP. LAG MAN. That is exactly a verbatim reading of the
provision from lines 3 to 5. If only I could tell you,
distinguished Gentleman from Manila, who authored
this proposed amendment then most probably he would
be happy to concede.
REP. BAGATSING. Wala pa nga akong p1no-propose,
Mr. Speaker.
REP. LAGMAN. But you know, I am not in a position to
disclose who authored this particular amendment.
REP. BAGATSING. Well, I just want to be clarified
because uulitin ko, Mr. Speaker, "THE STATE SHALL
PROMOTE OPENNESS TO LIFE," okay iyan, maganda
ito na ang problema, Mr. Speaker: "Provided that the
parents bring forth to the world," kailangan iyong mga
magulang ay magkakaroon ng anak para dalhin sa
mundong ito, "THAT THEY CAN TRULY RAISE IN A
TRULY HUMANE MANNER." Samakatuwid, hindi ka
pwedeng magkaroon ng anak kung hindi mo
rnapapalaki nang rnahusay. Sa dami po ng mahihirap
natin na kapitbahay, mga constituents, in effect,
sinasabi mo rito, "Hoy, huwag kang magkakaroon ng
anak dahil mahirap ka, kung hindi mo kayang
garantiyahan na mapapalaki mo ng maayos iyan,
huwag kang magkaka-anak." Eh, gustong magkaroon
ng pamilya. Gustong magkaroon ngpamilya sapagkat
ang mag-asawa kapag walang anak, malungkot. Eh,
mahirap sila. Are we not trying to say that we will stop
them from having babies or a first son or a first
daughter. So, if the Sponsor will allow it, baka papayag
naman ang ating Sponsor, eh i-delete na natin iyan,
iyon sa PROVIDED up to HUMANE WAY. So, it will now
read, THE STATE SHALL PROMOTE OPENNESS TO
LIFE.
REP. LAGMAN. Mr. Speaker.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Rep. Taiiada). Yes.
48
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REP. LAGMAN. This is just a policy prescription. But
you could not possibly deprive couples of having
children even if they could not afford to raise them
in a truly humane way. This is a policy prescription.
I would have to decline the amendment because I will be
reneging from a consultation where the one who
suggested this would not be amenable to its being
deleted. If I could only tell the distinguished Gentleman
who made this al!lendment then most probably he
would concede that this should remain. In private, most
probably under confidence, I could tell him.
XXX XXX XXX
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Rep. Taiiada). Yes, the
Sponsor, the Gentleman from Albay, is recognized.
REP. LAGMAN. The purpose of this amendment is to
assure our people that the State will not have anti-
natalist policy. This provision should be read in its
entirety; and the second portion is only a policy
prescription. We regret that we cannot accept the
amendment. 76
49
As explained by Representative Lagman, Section 2 of the
RH Law must be read in its entirety. Section 2 easily reveals
that the Act recognizes "ftlhe 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" and "ftlhe
right of the family to a family living wage and income." Hence,
"ftlhe 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."
The assailed provision therefore does not restrict the poor
from having children. It is not an anti-natalist or birth-control
measure. Nowhere in the RH Law is there a provision which
imposes upon families a prescribed number of children. As a
matter of fact, Section 3(f) provides that "no one shall be
deprived, for economic reasons, of the rights to have children
xxx"
76 Emphasis supplied.
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The RH Law provides rigid
requirements before nurses and
midwives are allowed to
administer life-saving drugs.
50
Midwives and nurses are allowed to administer lifesaving
drugs only under the following conditions: ( 1) in accordance
with the guidelines set by the Department of Health (DOH); (2)
under emergency conditions; (3) when there are no physicians
available; and (4) that they are properly trained and certified to
administer the lifesaving drugs.7
7
There is thus no danger to the lives of the patients under
the foregoing guidelines and conditions.
The argument that "ftlhe authority to prescribe medicines
and dispense medicines is given solely to medical practitioners
and pharmacists respectively due to their training and
expertise"
78
is simplistically restrictive. Dying mothers should
not be denied use of a drug that could save their lives, solely
because a properly trained and certified nurse or midwife is
not a doctor or pharmacist.
The RH Law does not violate
the right to health provision
under Section 15, Article 11,79
nor the right to protection
against hazardous products
in Section 9, Article XVI,so of
the Constitution.
Preliminarily, the above constitutional prov1s1ons
allegedly violated by respondents are mere statements of
principles and policies. Hence, they cannot give rise to a
cause of action in the courts; they do not embody judicially
77 Sec. 5 of R.A. No. 10354.
78 Ibid., p. 13.
79
The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health
consciousness among them.
80
The State shall protect consumers from trade malpractices and from substandard or
hazardous products.
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enforceable constitutional rights.
81
51
Even assuming that the said constitutional prov1s1ons
may be considered self-executory, they were not violated.
In the aforementioned Medical Experts' Declaration on the
Action of Contraceptives dated August 8, 20 11 prepared by
UHC Study Group, Annex 5 hereof, the medical experts made
the following conclusions:
XXX XXX XXX
8. Like all medical products and interventions,
contraceptives must first be approved for safety and
effectiveness by drug regulatory agencies. Like all
approved drugs, contraceptives have "side effects" and
adverse reactions, which warrant their use based on
risk-benefit balance and the principles of Rational Drug
Use. Risk-benefit balance also applies when doing
noting or not providing medicines, which can result in
greater morbidities and death.
In case of contraceptives, which are 50 years old
medicines, the Medical Eligibility Criteria (MEC)
developed by the WHO is the comprehensive clinicians'
reference guiding the advisability of contraceptives for
particular medical conditions.
9. The benefits of the rational use of
contraceptives far outweigh the risk. The risk of
dying from pregnancy and childbirth complications is
high ( 1 to 2 per 1000 live births, repeated with every
pregnancy). Compared to women nonsmokers aged
below 35 who use contraceptive pills, the risk of dying
from pregnancy and delivery complications is about
2,700 times higher.
10. The risk of cardiovascular complications from the
appropriate use of hormonal contraceptives is low.
While the risk for venous thromboembolism (blood
clotting in the veins among oral contraceptive users is
increased, the risk of dying is low, 900 times lower than
the risk of dying from pregnancy and childbirth
complications. Heart attack and stroke are also rare in
81
Kilosbayan us. Morato, G.R. No. 118910, July 17, 1995.
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women of reproductive age and occur in women using
hormonal contraceptives only in the presence of risk
factors - like smoking, hypertension and diabetes. The
MEC will guide providers in handling patients with
cardiovascular conditions.
11. The risk of breast cancer from the use of combined
hormonal pills (exogenous estrogen or estrogen from
external sources) is lower than the risk from prolonged
exposure to endogenous estrogens (hormones naturally
present in the body). Current users of oral
contraceptives have a risk of 1.2 compared to 1. 9 among
women who had early menarche (first menstruation)
and late menopause, and 3.0 among women who had
their first child after age 35. The risk of breast cancer
from oral contraceptive use also completely disappears
after 10 years of discontinuing use.
Combined hormonal pills are known to have protective
effects against ovanan, endometrial and colorectal
cancer.
12. The safety and efficacy of contraceptives which
passed the scientific scrutiny of the most stringent drug
regulatory agencies, including the US FDA, warranted
their inclusion in the WHO's "core list" of Essential
Medicines since 1977. The core list enumerates
"minimum medicine needs for a basic health care
system listing the most efficacious, safe and cost-
effective medicines for priority conditions."
13. Contraceptives are included in the Universal
Health package of the Department of Health. The use of
contraceptives in Family Planning programs are known
to reduce maternal mortality by 35o/o through the
elimination of unintended pregnancy and unsafe
induced abortions. 82
52
..,
Moreover, the WHO regularly publishes a monograph
entitled Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use (MEC)
to further ensure the general safety and efficacy of modern
artificial contraceptives. This monograph "aims to provide
guidance to national family planning/ reproductive health
programs in the preparation of guidelines for service delivery
of contraceptives."s3
82 See Annex 5; emphasis supplied.
83 Geneva: i, p. 9 (2009).
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53
The MEC has since been translated by the DOH into the
Family Planning Manual which is a ready clinical reference to
guide health care providers in advising their patients on the
best possible family planning drug, device, method or service
that would maximize benefits and minimize risks given their
individual circumstances.
To repeat, the RH Law simply guarantees access to
contraceptives which are medically-safe, non-abortifacient,
legal and effective in accordance with scientific and
evidence-based medical research standards such as those
registered and approved by the FDA. 84 The FDA shall first
determine and certifY the safety, efficacy, and classification of
products and supplies for modern family planning methods
prior to their procurement, distribution, sale and use.
The RH Law also provides that "[t]he 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."ss Likewise, it provides that "[t]he State
shall promote programs that: xxx (5) conduct scientific
studies to determine the safety and efficacy of alternative
medicines and methods for reproductive health care
development."
86
Furthermore, the selection of "drugs including
family planning supplies.that will be included or removed from
the Essential Drugs List (EDL)"B7 shall be "in accordance with
existing practice and in consultation with reputable medical
associations in the Philippines. "as It is thus very clear that
before contraceptives are made available to the public, the
same shall have first been the subject of strict scrutiny by the
FDA.
The RJ-I Law promotes, protects
and enhances the people's right
to health, particularly of
mothers and infants.
8
4
Sees. 2, 3(e), 4(1), 9, 19(a)(2) of R.A. No. 10354.
85 Sec. 19. of R.A. No. 10354.
86 Sec. 3(f)(5) of R.A. No. 10354; emphasis supplied.
8
7
Sec. 9 of R.A. No. 10354; emphasis supplied.
88 Id.; emphasis supplied.
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54
Section 11, Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution provides:
Section 11. The State shall adopt an integrated
and comprehensive approach to health development
which shall endeavor to make essential goods, health
and other social services available to all the people at
affordable cost. There shall be priority for the needs of
the underprivileged, sick, elderly, disabled, women, and
children. The State shall endeavor to provide free
medical care to paupers.
The expression of "an integrated and comprehensive
approach to health development" sums up two principles
premised on the understanding that the high level of health of
the people and of the country can be attained only through a
combination of social, economic, political and cultural
conditions. Integration connotes a unified health delivery
system, a combination of private and public sectors, and a
blend of western medicine and traditional health care
modalities. Comprehensiveness includes health promotion,
disease prevention, education, and planning. And all of these
are a recognition of the people's right to health.s9
Moreover, the right to health is not to be understood as a
right to be healthy. The right to health contains both freedoms
and entitlements. The freedoms include the right to control
one's health and body, including sexual and reproductive
freedom, and the right to be free from interference, such as the
right to be free from torture, non-consensual medical
treatment and experimentation. By contrast, the entitlements
include the right to a system of health protection which
provides equality of opportunity for people to enjoy the highest
attainable level of health. go
Consequently, the promotion of reproductive health
development includes, among others, access to a full range of
modern methods of family planning which includes medically-
safe and effective contraceptives even to the poor.
89
Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., The 1987 Philippine Constitution A Reviewer-Primer, 4th ed.,
p. 546 (2002).
90
Right to health as defined by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in its
General Comment No. 14 (2000).
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
55
In Del Rosario vs. Bengzon,
91
wherein the Philippine
Medical Association (PMA) questioned the Generics Act, this
Honorable Court held that the PMA misread the law's purpose
which is to fulfill the constitutional command to make health
care affordable.
The RH Law therefore does not violate the constitutional
right to health; rather it promotes, protects and enhances the
same by reducing maternal and infant mortality rates through
access to safe, legal, affordable, effective and essential
reproductive health care services and supplies. Studies show
that maternal deaths in the Philippines continue to rise simply
because these mothers were not given the proper health care
and access to key reproductive health information.
92
Section 9 of the RH Law does
not violate the regulation
and prohibition of
monopolies under Section
19, Article XII of the
Constitution.
Petitioners raise two (2) points. First, the enactment of
Section 9 of the challenged law "shows an early sign of
monopoly." According to them, certain private businesses and
industries will benefit from the passage of the law as the
government is now mandated out of "necessity" to purchase
contraceptives from these private entities. Second, they say
that "although it may not be apparent now, long-term
implementation of this law might lead to government
partnerships with suppliers in order to achieve a constant
supply, lower prices or some other seemingly valid reason."
All these arguments are based on pure speculation. They
fail to show even a semblance of a violation of Section 19,
Article XII of the 1987 Constitution.
91 G.R. No. 88265, December 21, 1989.
92
MDG 5: reduce the maternal and infant mortality and morbidity and achieve
universal access to reproductive health;
http: //www.un.org/millenniumgoals/maternal.shtml, last accessed March 13, 2013.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
56
The words used by petitioners themselves in their
arguments, such as early sign of monopoly, although it may
not be apparent now and might lead, betray the speculative
nature of their arguments. The government routinely makes
purchases of drugs and devices from private entities, and
these purchases are covered by laws on public procurement of
goods.
The RH Law does not violate
petitioners'
freedom under
1\rticle III
Constitution.
religious
Section 5,
of the
The RH Law recognzzes and
accommodates a person's right
to his religion.
Section 5, Article III of the 1987 Constitution provides:
No law shall be made respecting an establishment
of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The
free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and
worship, without discrimination or preference, shall
forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for
the exercise of civil or political rights.
The mandate of above-cited provision is to protect and
promote religious liberty; the freedom from any government
compulsion to adhere to a specific religion or to none at all.93
.
The legislators, in enacting the RH Law, recognized and
acknowledged a person's right to his faith:
Section 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 include reproductive health, the right to
education and information, and the right to choose and
93 Estrada vs. Escritor, 408 SCRA 1.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
make decisions for themselves in accordance with their
religious convictions, ethics, cultural beliefs, and the
demands of responsible parenthood.
XXX
(a) The right of spouses to found a family
in accordance with their religious
convictions and the demands of responsible
parenthood;"
XXX
Section 3. Guiding Principles for Implementation. -
This Act declares the following as guiding principles:
XXX
(h) the State shall respect individual's
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 vanous human rights
instruments;94
57
The Declaration of Policy is the implementing framework
of a law.
95
It establishes the general principles on which a law
is founded.
96
On the other hand, the Guiding Principles for
Implementation, as the name suggests, is akin to a roadmap
which directs how the law is to be enforced.
In both the Declaration of Policy and Guiding Principles
of Implementation, the State unequivocally declares that an
individual's right to plan a family based on his or her religious
convictions shall be respected.
Clearly, the RH Law was crafted within the context that
each person has a religious belief deserving of recognition and
respect. The general direction of the law therefore is to
94 Underscoring supplied
95
Black's Law Dictionary 467 (9th ed. 2009); Declaration- A formal statement,
proclamation, or announcement.
96
Ibid. 1276; Policy - the general principles by which a government is guided in its
management of public affairs.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
58
accommodate. This principle of religious tolerance and
acceptance is concretized in its Sections 7 and 23.97
Based on Section 7, a private health facility owned and
operated by a religious group has the option to provide the full
range of modern family planning methods. However, if due to
its religious convictions it shall opt not to do so, it is duty
bound to immediately refer the person seeking such care to a
conveniently accessible health facility which is capable of
doing so.
Section 23 (a) (3) similarly affords a health care provider
the right to refuse to treat a person due to his religious
convictions, on the condition that he must also refer the
person to another health care provider who is capable and
willing to extend the service.
The RH Law excludes from its coverage private health
facilities owned and operated by religious groups and health
care providers, who have objections based on their religious
convictions. The exemption provides that these private health
facilities and health care providers cannot be compelled or
coerced to provide reproductive health services when such
would be in conflict with their religious beliefs.
Having the choice is the essence of religious liberty. Since
these private health facilities and health care providers are not
compelled to disobey their religious beliefs, their freedom of
religion is not offended.
The requirement to immediately
refer a person to another health
facility and health care provider
does not offend religious
freedom. Section 5, Article III of
the 1987 Constitution is a
protection against dogmatic
compulsion and not a shield
against civic obligations.
9
7
Sees. 7 and 23 of R.A. No. 10354.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
59
Sections 7 and 23 (a) (3) of the RH Law, to reiterate,
generally allow private health facilities and health care
providers to refuse, based on religious grounds to extend
services and information to persons requesting for such ("opt-
out clause)."98 Notably, inasmuch as the State has readily
accommodated the religious beliefs of these private health
facilities and health care providers, there is no burden on their
religious freedom. Thus, the "opt-out clause" does not offend
the objector's religious freedom.
Religious liberty is the freedom from State coercion to
adhere to a specific religion or to none at all. It is against
theistic compulsion. The act of referring a person to another
health facility or health care provider does not compel the
religious private health facility and health care provider to
reject their religious beliefs or to accept the beliefs of another.
To refer is to divert. In the context of the "opt-out clause"
in the RH Law, the objector simply omits.
Petitioners Imbong, ALFI, TFFLVI and Pro-Life
nevertheless maintain that the referral still allows them to
participate, albeit indirectly, to the acts that will follow.
With all due respect, petitioners are merely speculating.
Whether a person, after referral, will follow the advice on
reproductive health services cannot be predicted. But more
importantly, in the same way that a conscientious objector has
9
8 Senate Interpellations on Senate Bill No. 2865 December 12, 2012.
Senator Pia Cayetano:
"xxx Now, I want to emphasize that in the succeeding paragraph, it is
very clearly indicated here that any healthcare provider may refuse to
provide the services if it is contrary to their belief and just refer the
patient to another healthcare provider. So, we are not imposing on any
healthcare provider that they provide information or service that they are
not comfortable providing.
xxx a healthcare provider has an opt out here. As long as they refer the
patient, and I have talked to may practitioners who do that, they cannot
based on their religious belief, recommend the use of artificial
contraceptives, they refer them to other and that is the proper things to
do."
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
60
the liberty to refuse to treat and to inform, a patient must also
have the option to be treated and to be informed.
Further, it bears emphasis that the accommodation
afforded by the State to religion is not a shield against civic
obligations. Justice Frankfurter eloquently discussed the
purpose of the religious freedom, to wit:
The constitutional provision on religious freedom
terminated disabilities, it did not create new
privileges. It gave religious liberty, not civil
immunity. Its essence is freedom from conformity to
religious dogma, not freedom from conformity to law
because of religious dogma. 99
-;
The logic of this dictum is easy to understand. Religious
freedom and its exercise do not operate in a vacuum. The
exercise of a religious freedom, similar with the exercise of any
right, must be consistent with the liberty of others.1oo
The case of Ebralinag vs. The Division Superintendent
of Schools of Cebu11 is enlightening. In this case, several
students from various schools in Cebu were expelled by public
school authorities for refusing to salute the flag, sing the
national anthem and recite the patriotic pledge required by
Republic Act No. 1265 and by Department of Education
Culture and Sports Department Order No. 8, dated July 21,
1995. The children were all members of the religious group
Jehovah's Witnesses, which admittedly taught the children not
to salute the flag, sing the national anthem and recite the
patriotic pledge because these are "acts of worship" or
"religious devotion" that they can only give to God.
This Honorable Court ruled that in expelling therein
petitioners, the public authorities infringed their right to
exercise their religion. Hence, accommodation in favor of
religion was proper. However, the Court made the following
clarification:
99
Iglesia Ni Cristo vs. Court of Appeals, 259 SCRA 529, 543 (1996), citing Justice
Isagani A. Cruz citing Justice Frankfurter; emphasis supplied.
100
Gonzales vs. Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union, 130 SCRA 31, 40 (1985);
emphasis supplied.
101
219 SCRA 257,273, citing German vs. Barangan, 135 SCRA 514,517
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - X
xxx Nevertheless, their right not to participate in
the flag ceremony does not give them a right to disrupt
such patriotic exercises. Paraphrasing the warning cited
by this Court in Non vs. Dames II, 185 SCRA 52, 535,
while the highest regard must be afforded their right to
the free exercise of their religion, 'this should not be
taken to mean that school authorities are powerless to
discipline them' if they should commit breaches of the
peace by actions that offend the sensibilities, both
religious and patriotic, of other persons. If they quietly
stand at attention during the flag ceremony while their
classmates and teachers salute the flag, sing the
national anthem and recite the patriotic pledge, we do
not see how such conduct may possibly disturb the
peace, or pose 'a grave and present danger of a serious
evil to public safety, public morals, public health or any
other legitimate public interest that the State has a
right (and duty) to protect.1o2
61
The right to refuse to act due to religious convictions
should not mean that a person has the right to deprive
another of his own rights. The practice of any form of worship
must be exercised within the limits of the utmost
amplitude.
103
While, in the case of Ebralinag, the students
were allowed to refuse to sing the national anthem, salute the
flag or recite the patriotic pledge, this did not mean that they
could be disruptive or disrespectful. This Honorable Court
ruled that there were other people with different convictions
who would want to sing the national anthem, salute the flag
and recite the patriotic pledge
Similarly, while an objector, due to his religion, has the
right to refuse providing reproductive health information and
services, a person has the concomitant right to health which
includes reproductive health, right to education and
information and the right to choose and make decisions in
accordance with his or her religious convictions, ethics,
cultural beliefs, and the demands of responsible
parenthood.
104
1o2 Underscoring supplied
10
3 Gonzales vs. Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union, 130 SCRA 31, 40 ( 1985);
emphasis supplied.
10
4 Section 2, Declaration of Policy, R.A. No. 10354; Emphasis supplied.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
62
The opt-out clause is a sufficient accommodation.
However, this accommodation must not be at the expense
of someone else's right to health and information. There
must be a balance. And the balance lies in the proviso that a
religious private health facility or a health care provider who
has a conscientious objection must nonetheless refer the
patient to another non-objecting facility and health care
provider.
Altogether, the respect for religious freedom under the
RH Law is maintained. It is, in fact, so great that it is only
when a person is in an emergency situation or in a serious
case that a religious private health facility and a health care
provider are mandated to act. There is an emergency situation
or a serious case when, based on the objective findings of a
prudent medical officer, a person may die or be permanently
disabled if not treated timely.
10
s It is only within these definite
circumstances, which petitioners do not even dispute, that the
religious objector is required to treat a person seeking
reproductive health services.
Given the accommodation and the reasonable
infringement only under the gravest of situations, it becomes
apparent that the RH Law does not infringe religious freedom.
On the contrary, it respects, encourages and even reinforces
free exercise of religion.
The prohibited acts defined in
Section 23 (a}(l} are within the
valid exercise of the State's
police power and are outside
the realm of the religion clause,
thus may not be validly used
to justify a claim of religious
liberty.
At the outset, and as discussed in the preceding
paragraphs, the RH Law does not burden the free exercise of
religion. This is so because the law principally guarantees
every person's freedom to choose and act in accordance with
Ios Section 2 (a)(c), Republic Act No. 8344
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
63
his or her religious convictions. Simply put, the RH Law does
not compel any person to act in any manner that is
inconsistent with his or her religious convictions.
More importantly, the RH Law is but a legitimate exercise
of the police power of the State to prescribe regulations to
promote the health, morals, peace, education, good order or
safety and general welfare of the people.1o6
Police power is properly exercised when the following
requirements are met:
(1) The interests of the public generally, as
distinguished from those of a particular class
requires its exercise (lawful subject); and
(2) The means employed are reasonably necessary
for the accomplishment of the purpose and not
duly oppressive upon individuals (lawful
means).
107
As applied in the instant case, the lawful subject sought
to be protected by the State is the public health which
includes, among others, the access to quality reproductive
health services.
It is beyond cavil that the State, under Section 11, Article
XIII of the Constitution, promotes public health. Section 2 of
the RH Law echoes this mandate when it states that the State
recognizes and guarantees one's "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 xxx."
In order to comply with the aforesaid constitutional
. mandate, the Congress, through the exercise of police power,
classified a number of secular acts to be punishable. Needless
1
0
6
Acebedo us. CA 329 SCRA 314, citing Binay us. Domingo 201 SCRA 508; emphasis
supplied.
107
SJS us. Atienza Jr citing Lucena Grand Central Terminal us. JAC Liner, 452 SCRA 174
citing DECS us. San Diego, 180 SCRA 533.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
64
to state, such classification of secular acts IS reasonably
necessary to effectively implement the RH Law.
Indeed, it is the prerogative of the legislature to
determine what acts or omissions shall be deemed criminal
offenses and what sanctions should attach to them.18 The
legislature may even forbid and penalize acts formerly
considered innocent and lawful provided that no constitutional
rights have been abridged.109
It bears to stress that the acts prohibited by the RH Law
do not infringe on the exercise of religious freedom of any
person, so much so that the prohibitions and the penalties
imposed therein are secular in nature and are thus beyond the
realm of any religion.
For instance, Petitioners Imbong, et al. posit that Section
23 (a) (1) is a violation of the right to free exercise of religion
because it gives the State the power to prosecute any health
care provider who intentionally provides incorrect information
on any matter covered by the RH Law, insofar as reproductive
health and family planning is concerned.
It is respectfully submitted that petitioners' argument 1s
not well-taken.
Section 23 (a) (1) prohibits a health care service provider
from knowingly withholding or from intentionally providing
incorrect information regarding programs and services on
reproductive health or from restricting the dissemination
thereof. The law uses the terms "knowingly'' and "intentionally.)'
"Knowingly" means sure knowledge, conscious and deliberate
intention to do an injustice.
110
"Intentionally" is synonymous
with knowingly and aJso means deliberately, designedly, or
willfully. Clearly, Section 23 (a) (1) intends to punish a health
care service provider who acts, not on the basis of religious
convictions, but solely upon the motivation of malice, bad faith
or evil intent. This becomes all the more glaring when Section
JOB Baylosis vs. Chavez, 202 SCRA 405.
I09 People vs. Siton, 600 SCRA 476.
110
Dela Cruz, et al. vs. Judge Crisanto Concepcion, A.M. No. RTJ-93-1062, August 25,
1994, citing Decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain, October 1884 and January 10,
1900, cited in Guevara, Commentaries on the Revised Penal Code, p. 418.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
65
23 (a) (1) is read 1n conjunction with the proviso found 1n
Section 23 (a) (3).
To repeat, Section 23 (a) (3) prohibits a health care service
provider from refusing 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. However, the provision goes on to say that the
conscientious objection of a health care service provider based
on his or her ethical or religious beliefs shall be respected, only
that he shall have the duty to immediately refer the person
seeking care and services to another health care service
provider and provided that the person seeking care and services
is not in an emergency or serious condition. Again, these
conditions, it is most respectfully submitted, are reasonable
requirements of the law that effectively balance the rights of the
conscientious health care service provider with those of persons
in need of care and services.
Under Section 23 (a) (3), the refusal to extend quality
health care services and information stems from a sincere
religious belief, which the law acknowledges and respects. Good
faith for refusing can therefore be ascribed to the health care
service provider and he is not held liable for it.
In Recuerdo vs. People,111 this Honorable Court
explained what good faith is:
Good faith negates malice and deceit. Good
faith is an intangible and abstract quality with no
technical meaning or statutory definition, and it
encompasses, among other things, an honest belief,
the absence of malice and the absence of design to
defraud or to seek an unconscionable advantage. It
implies honesty of intention and freedom from
knowledge of circumstances which ought to put the
holder upon inquiry. The essence of good faith lies
in an honest belief in the validity of one's- right,
ignorance of a superior claim, and absence of
intention to overreach another.
111
Recuerdo us. People, G.R. No. 168217, June 27,2006.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
66
The good faith of the health care service provider is, in
fact, manifested in his or her act of referring the person seeking
care and services to a different health care service provider. On
the other hand, a health care service provider who does nothing
but flatly refuse to render care and services or p,rovide
information on programs and services regarding reproductive
health; or to deliberately withhold or distort such information is
impelled by nothing else but malice and bad faith.
The term "dolo" or "malice" is a complex idea involving the
elements of freedom, intelligence, and intent:
The first element, freedom, refers to an act
done with deliberation and with power to choose
between two things. The second element,
intelligence, concerns the ability to determine the
morality of human acts, as well as the capacity to
distinguish between a licit and an illicit act. The last
element, intent, involves an aim or a determination
to do a certain act.ll2
In the same vein, "bad faith" contemplates a "state of
mind affirmatively operating with furtive design or with some
motive of self-interest or will or for ulterior purpose."
1
13 Bad
faith does not connote bad judgment or negligence. Bad faith
imports a dishonest purpose. Bad faith means breach of a
known duty through some ill motive or. interest. Bad faith
partakes of the nature of fraud.l1
4
Section 23 (a) (1) contemplates a situation wherein the
health care service provider neither has good nor justifiable
reason except to mislead or to evade his or her professional and
civic obligations and even to evade the reasonable requirements
the law provides in accommodation to his or her religious
scruples. Hence, the State may legitimately step in to make it
unlawful for a health care service provider from doing so. This is
a valid exercise of the police power of the State, a power which
has been aptly described as co-extensive with self-protection
and constitutes the law of overruling necessity. Any measure
112
Villareal us. People, G.R. No. 151258, February 1, 2012.
113
Air France us. Carrascoso, et al. G.R. No. L-21438, September 28, 1966, citing Words
& Phrases, Perm. Ed., Vol. 5, p. 13, citing Warfield Natural Gas Co. vs. Allen, 59 S.W.
(2d) 534, 538.
11
4
Francisco vs. Mallen, Jr. G.R. No. 173169, September 22, 2010.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imboug, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
67
intended to promote the health, peace, morals, education and
good order of the people or to increase the industries of the
state, develop its resources and add to its wealth and prosperity
is a legitimate exercise of the police power.
11
5
In connection to this argument it was likewise argued
that the right to a conscientious objection of health care
workers and professionals is unjustly limited because they are
nonetheless duty-bound to refer a patient to another who can
provide the reproductive health service sought.
The argument does not hold water.
As previously discussed, the accommodation provided by
RH Law conscientious. objectors st:dkes the balance between
the rights of the conscientious objectors and the rights of the
person needing the health care service. The purpose therefore
is secular and could not burden the exercise of religion.
This balance is more enunciated in the Hippocratic Oath:
At the time of being admitted as a member of the
medical profession:
I SOLEMNLY PLEDGE to consecrate my life to the
service of humanity;
I WILL GIVE to my teachers the respect and
gratitude that is their due;
I WILL PRACTISE my profession with conscience
and dignity;
THE HEALTH OF MY PATIENT will be my first
consideration;
I WILL RESPECT the secrets that are confided in
me, even after the patient has died;
I WILL MAINTAIN by all means in my power, the
honour and the noble traditions of the medical
profession;
MY COLLEAGUES will be my sisters and brothers;
I WILL NOT PERMIT considerations of age,
disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender,
nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual
orientation, social standing or any other factor to
intervene between my duty and my patient;
115 People us. Cayat, G.R. No. L-45987, May 5, 1939, citing Barbier us. Connolly, 113
u.s., 27 (1885).
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
lmbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
I WILL MAINTAIN the utmost respect for human
life;
I WILL NOT USE my medical knowledge to violate
human rights and civil liberties, even under threat;
I MAKE THESE PROMISES solemnly, freely and
upon my honor.ll6
68
The Oath places the medical profession on a neutral
ground so that the health of a patient is primordial, without
regard to any outside even the physician's own. This
neutrality expected of any physician bolsters the validity of the
balance provided by the RH Law.
Further, according to the Medical Profession Code, a
physician is bound to serve the interests of his patients with
the greatest solicitude, giving them always his best talent
and skil1.
1
1
7
Likewise, the duty to refer patients is recognized
in international medical literature, to wit:
We have become familiar with the opposite stance
of conscientious the conviction, commonly
based on religion, that provision of, for example,
contraception, contraceptive sterilisation, abortion,
access to reproductive technology, and pain control by
life-shortening means goes against a health-care
provider's ethical values. Indeed, objection is properly
accommodated in law and ethics provided that
objectors refer their patients to suitable and
accessible providers who do not object.11s
Clearly, the duty to refer the patient is secular in nature
being in obeisance to the medical practitioner's code and the
Hippocratic Oath, which are secular, neutral, and devoid of
any religious implication that might infringe the free exerctse
thereof.
Further, the medical profession is a privilege that is
granted by the State. Its practice thereof can be thus regulated
to serve the general welfare and common good. The regulation
of the practice of medicine in all its branches has long been
11
6 www.cirp.org/libraryjethicsjgeneva. Emphasis and underscoring supplied.
11
7 Section 3, Article 1 1960, Code of Medical Profession in the Philippines.
1
1
8
http: I /www. thelancet.com /journals/lancet/article I PIISO 140-6736(08)6054 7-
4 /fulltext; emphasis and underscoring supplied.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et at., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
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69
recognized as reasonable method of protecting the health and
safety of the public.ll9
Indeed, no less than this Honorable Court recognized the
vital role that the medical profession plays in the lives of the
people, and acknowledged that the same is a calling where
public interest is involved.12o
Thus, the duty to refer a patient after a conscientious
objection is not a limitation thereto but is a reasonable and
necessary secular means to promote public health by
enJoining individuals from doing things that may endanger
others.
Whatever burden imposed in
Section 23 (3)(b) on a public
official's free exercise of his or
her religious belief is justified. It
is also outweighed by the
compelling interest of the State.
Justice Cecilia Munoz-Palma's dissent tn Pamil vs.
Teleron121 is enlightening:
Of course the religion of the man cannot be
dissociated from his personality; in truth, his religion
influences his conduct, his moral values, the fairness of
his judgment, his outlook on social problems, etc. As
stated in the Hysong decision, inevitably in popular
government by the majority, public institutions will be
tinged more or less by the religious proclivities of the
majority, but in all cases where a discretion is reposed
by the law, it is to be assumed in the absence of
evidence to the contrary, that the public officer will
perform his duty in the manner the law requires.l22
Well-settled is the rule that public office is a public
trust. Thus, Section 1, Article XI of the Constitution provides:
119 Board of Medicine us. Ota, 558 SCRA 234.
120
Department of Education Culture and Sports vs. San Diego, 180 SCRA 533.
121 86 SCRA 413 (1978).
122 Underscoring supplied
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
lmbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
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x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - x
Public office is a public trust. Public officers and
employees must at all times be accountable to the
people, serve th'em with utmost responsibility, integrity,
loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice,
and lead modest lives.
70
The basic idea of government is that of a popular
representative government, the officers being mere agents and
not rulers of the people, where no ant: man or set of men has a
proprietary or contractual right to an office, but where every
officer accepts office pursuant to the provisions of the law and
holds the office as a trust for the people whom he
represents.
123
As a representative of the people and an agent of the
government, a public official is essentially on a different plane
than an ordinary citizen. In performing his or her functions,
he or she is exhorted to act with utmost responsibility and
efficiency, lest his or her constituents would not reap the
benefits the legislature has intended for them to rece1ve
through the laws it enacts.
Thus, a public official cannot be expected to live up to
the n1andate set forth under Section 1, Article XI of the
Constitution unless he or she acts with religious neutrality. It
is imperative, therefore, that a public official must neither
favor nor inhibit any kind of religion. This expectation is
nothing more than giving life to the inviolability of the
separation of Church and State, as enunciated in Section 6,
Article III of the Constitution.
Moreover, while it may be conceded that Section 23 (3) (b)
creates a burden on a public official's free exercise of religion,
it is respectfully submitted that this is heavily outweighed by
the compelling state interest which justifies this infringement
of religious liberty.
123
Camejo vs. Gabriel, 41 Phil 188, cited by Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., The 1987
Constitution ofthe Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
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71
In Estrada vs Escritor,I24 this Honorable Court declared
that the compelling state interest test involves a three-step
process, to wit:
First, "(H]as the statute or government action
created a burden on the free exercise of religion?" The
courts often look into the sincerity of the religious belief,
but without inquiring into the truth of the belief
because the Free Exercise Clause prohibits inquiring
about its truth as held in Ballard and Cantwell. The
sincerity of the claimant's belief is ascertained to avoid
the mere claim of religious beliefs to escape a
mandatory regulation. xxx
XXX XXX XXX
Second, the court asks: "(I]s there a sufficiently
compelling state interest to justify this infringement of.
religious liberty?" In this step, the government has to
establish that its purposes are legitimate for the state
and that they are compelling. Government must do
more than assert the objectives at risk if exemption is
given; it must precisely show how and to what extent
those objectives will be undermined if exemptions are
granted.
XXX XXX XXX
Third, the court asks: "[H]as the state in achieving its
legitimate purposes used the least intrusive means
possible so that the free exercise is not infringed any
more than necessary to achieve the legitimate goal of
the state?" The analysis requires the state to show that
the means in which it is achieving its legitimate state
objective is the least intrusive means, i.e., it has chosen
a way to achieve its legitimate state end that imposes as
little as possible on religious liberties xxx.
The State's legitimate secular purpose in enacting the RH
Law can be found in Sections 2 and 3 thereof.
The burden on a public official's free exercise of religious
belief is also outweighed by the fact that no other less
intrusive means is available to the State to advance its
legitimate objectives under the law.
124 A.M. No. P-02-1651, June 22, 2006.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
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72
Section 23 (3)(b) explicitly identifies the public official as
the one "specifically charged with the duty to implement the
provisions" of the RH Law. The duty to implement the law is,
therefore, reposed solely upon him. The State can only
advance its objectives under the law through him. To hold a
contrary view would lead to a ridiculous and unacceptable
situation of defeating the legitimate ends of the law by the
mere expedient of a public official refusing to abide and
enforce the law because of alleged religious objections. 'fhus,
as a matter of official duty for him to faithfully implement the
law, the public official cannot shirk the responsibility without
the risk of being called upon to account for his dereliction.
125
Section 14 does not inhibit the
parents' rights to rear their
children according to their
religious beliefs.
The assailed provision reads:
12s Senate Interpellations dated October 15, 2012.
Senator Pia Cayetano: xxx The amendment calls for the deletion of
the phrase that penalizes a local government official, a public official,
who would refuse to allocate or approve or release any budget for
reproductive health s e r v i ~ e s . That hinders the full implementation of this
very act that we are referring to.
In other words, Mr. President, this amendment calls for the negation,
the setting aside, pagbabalewala ng buong batas na ito. We cannot pass
this law, assuming that it will pass, and then have local government
officials refusing not just to carry it out because that is the first phrase
which, if I am not mistaken, his Honor supports, but refuse to allocate
funding or refuse to release the budget.
So, for example, in the current DOH budget, and in the years to
come, there would be an allocation, for example, in every city for an x
amount for a particular family planning campaign, whether it be natural
or artificial and assume that it is both, because the law requires that
both are funded, and then a particular government official will decide:
"Ah, hindi. Natanggap ko na iyong Pl milyon pero against family planning
ako, eh, so hindi ko ilalabas iyon. lyon ho ang iniiwasan nating
sitwasyon.
A local public official, any public official for that matter, cannot go
against the implementation of this Reproductive Health Act. That is not
his prerogative at that point in time. The law was passed. It is law. xxx
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
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G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
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73
Section 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 systems 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
an 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 behaviour; gender and
development; and responsible parenthood: Provided,
That the 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 parent-
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."I26 .
The above provision should be read with Section 2 of the
RH Law. The content, scope and methodology of an age- and
development-appropriate reproductive health education will be
formulated and adopted only after consultations with the
parents.
In addition, the framers of the RH Law intended
1
2
7
to
impose the mandatory nature of reproductive health education
126 Emphasis and underscoring supplied.
127
Bicameral Conference Committee of Senate Bill 2865 and House Bill 4244,
December 19, 2012.
Senator Recto: Madam Chair. I agree with the Senate version and I just
want to put on record because this deals with education. And here we
are discussing what we should be teaching our children, okay, what will
be part of their curriculum. As I mentioned earlier, I don't have a
problem as far as the public schools are concerned, that we adopt a
standard. But let me again put on record what I said earlier, I do not
think we should be imposing this on private schools. They have a
different standard. In some instances, it could be better or worse, but
nevertheless, that is the choice of the parents. They choose to bring their
kids to private school, knowing - should know what the curriculum is, I
think that should be respected. Thank you, Madam Chair.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et at., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
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74
only on public schools. This intention translates to the respect
afforded to the right of the parents to choose, according to
their religious convictions, where to send their children -
either to a public or private school - knowing fully well the
curriculum they respectively offer.
Section 14 advances rather than inhibits the parents'
right to exercise their religion and rear their children based on
their religious convictions. The mandatory tenor of an age- and
development-appropriate reproductive health education found
therein is not a compulsion against the exercise of religious
freedom, but is precisely an exercise thereof.
Additionally, the deliberations of the framers of the RH
Law show that the intent of the State is to ensure that the
subject is responsibly taught, viz:
REP. LAGMAN: Sa ating mga tahanan, [ang] statistics
would show that only 1 Oo/o of parents discuss sexuality
to their children. So, there is a default on the parts of
the parents on their obligation to teach their children
about sex. Because of this default, there is a need for
a formal education, sapagkat sa ngayon ho, saan ba
nakukuha ng ating mga anak ang impormasyon
hinggil sa sex? Sa polluted sources, sa peer groups
na hindi ho tama. Kaya't kailangan isama natin sa
curriculum ng paaralan. Ngayon, ito naman sa
sexuality education ay age-appropriate. Nandyan po
sa panulc:alang iyan, ang age-appropriate. Ang
gustong sabihin ho, kung Grade V pa lang ang isang
estudyante ay hindi sya tuturuan ng itinuturo sa
Fourth Year. xxx:I28
In view of the foregoing, Section 14 does not, in any way,
run afoul of the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom,
and as will be clearly discussed henceforth, neither does it
divest the parents of their primary and inalienable right to rear
their children.
Section 1 5 promotes informed
choice; it does not inhibit the
12s Period of Sponsorship and Debate, House of Representatives, May 17, 2011;
emphasis supplied.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
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free exercise of couples'
religious beliefs.
The assailed provision reads:
Section 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
Officer certifying that they had duly received adequate
instructions and information on responsible
parenthood, family planning, breastfeeding and infant
nutrition.
1
29
75
Section 15, when read with Section 2, clearly shows the
RH Law's secular intention of providing all Filipinos with equal
access to all relevant information and options regarding
reproductive health.
Section 15 uses the phrase, "duly received adequate
instructions and information xxx." Taken in context with the
avowed intention of the RH Law, Section 15 ensures that the
information and instructions to be relayed to the spouses are
those that are due and adequate, ie., information and
instructions that are legally sufficient, proper, and
reasonable, 1
30
all the while taking into consideration the
spouses' religious convictions.
In other words, this section merely requires that the
spouses be properly counselled, without any compulsion to
accept or subscribe to a particular family planning
This much is assured in Section 3(h) of the RH Law.13
1
Verily, this Honorable Court once held:
129 Emphasis supplied.
1
3 Black's Law Dictionary, 43, 538, (9th Edition, 2009); Due -just, proper, regular and
reasonable; Adequate- legally Black's Law Dictionary, 8th Edition, p. 538.
131 Section 3(h) of R.A. No. 10354:
xxx (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 under various
human lights instruments. Xxx
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
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Freedom of choice guarantees the liberty of the
religious conscience and prohibits any degree of
compulsion or burden, whether direct or indirect, in
the practice of one's religion. The Free Exercise
Clause principally guarantees voluntarism, although the
Establishment Clause also assures voluntarism by
placing the burden in the advancement of religious
groups on their intrinsic merits and not on the support
of the state.132
There is no violation of the non-
establishment of religion clause.
76
The RH Law does not establish a religion. It does not
compel anyone to use modern contraceptives instead of the
natural methods of contraception. Rather, the heart of the law
is to provide, without bias, equal access to adequate
information and appropriate education that will eventually give
them an informed choice.I33 Simply put, the RH Law aims to
help Filipinos understand and commit to practice family
planning of their own choice.
1
3
4
This is supported by Sections 3
(a) and (h) on the Guiding Principles of the RH Law, the
meaning of which was concretized and made clear during the
Senate's deliberations in this wise:
SENATOR CAYETANO (P): xxx it is defined as a human
right that every human being, that every couple has
that right to decide when and how often they will
13
2
Estrada vs. Escritor, 408 SCRA 1, (2003); emphasis supplied; citing Bernas,
Constitutional Rights and Social Demands, Part II, p. 68.
1
33 Bicameral Conference Committee on the Disagreeing Provisions of Senate Bill No.
2865 and House Bill No. 4244 (Reproductive Health Bill)
Rep. Lagman. There will be no harm if we maintain this provision
because the hallmark of this bill is really freedom of informed choice and
there can be no choice if it is not informed. So it could be redundant, but
it is a necessary redundancy just to underscore the need for massive
information campaign.
134
Period of Sponsorship and Debate on House Bill No. 4244: An Act Providing
for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health,
and Population and Development, and for other purposes. (July 31, 2012)
Rep. Lagman: xxx With respect to condoms, contraceptives, IUDs and
injectables, no one is being compelled to use the same. These are being
made available only to acceptors who have the informed choice whether
or not to adopt any particular family. plitnning method. So, if you are not
an acceptor, you will not be compelled. If you are an accepter, you will be
assisted.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
reproduce. It is, in fact, the opposite of what the
gentleman has stated that the State is intruding.
What we are saying is that this is a person's
reproductive right, and only that person and the
couple involved can make that decision.
I would like to clarify to all my colleagues: We are
not dictating; we are defining this as the right of
every person. How would many of us like it if
somebody dictated upon us? This is not what the bill
says. This bill says precisely that every person has that
right. To vote against it would be saying that we
desire to make that decision for another human
b e i n g ~ And I humbly submit that it is not our role.135
77
In the same way, the freedom of choice, in accordance
with the afore-stated guiding principles, is echoed and
explained in the House of Representatives' deliberations:
REP. BELLO: Thank you Mr. Speaker, Your Honor.
I think the issue of the freedom of choice is
very central to the bill. And, it is fairly clear what it
says that the freedom of choice, which is central to
the exercise of right, must be fully guaranteed by
the State. And, what this means, it is up to the
individual to be able to decide on many issues on
whether or not to have children, on whether or not
how many children must a man have, to decide on,
if they decide, indeed, to engage health measures
including natural family planning or artificial family
planning through artificial methods.
So, this is really what the bill places as a very
central principle. There is no coercion that is
involved in this promotion of reproductive health
and responsible parenthood. I think that this is a
principle that are (sic) putting upfront just in order to be
able to endure that there is no misunderstanding that,
indeed, this is a bill to which freedom of choice is
central. Dinidiin ho naming iyan, okay, so that there is
no misunderstanding.I36
13
5
Senate Interpellations, December 04, 2012; emphasis supplied
1
3
6
House Deliberations, October 11. 2011; emphasis supplied.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
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78
The RH Law, contrary to petitioners' submission,
encourages and guarantees the effective exercise of the religious
freedom of Filipinos to rear their families according to their
religious convictions. Suffice it to say, just what is the
popular choice of contraceptives among Filipinos is beyond
the point.:. The law, instead, is concerned with promoting and
providing information and access, with'out bias, to all me.thods
of family planning, including 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.137
Verily, petitioner PAX's reliance on Justice Cruz'
concurring opinion in Ehralinag
13
8 is misleading.
Hailing this Honorable Court's overturning of Gerona, et
al. vs. Secretary of Education, et al.,
1
3
9
Justice Cruz observed
that it is an erroneous assumption to say that the State has the
right to determine what was religious and what was not and to
dictate to the individual what he could and could not worship:
In requiring the herein petitioners to participate in
the flag ceremony, the State has declared ex cathedra
that they are not violating the Bible by saluting the flag.
This is to me an unwarranted intrusion into their
religious beliefs, which tell them the opposite. The State
cannot interpret the Bible for them; only they can read
it as they see fit. Right o.r wrong, the meaning they
derive from it cannot be revised or reversed except
perhaps by their own acknowledged superiors. But
certainly not the State. It has no competence in this
matter. Religion is forbidden territory that the State, for
all its power and authority, cannot invade.
Contrary to petitioner PAX's contention, the above-cited
f1aw in Gerona is not being re-committed here. Precisely, with
the degree of liberality, tolerance and accommodation that it
gives to an individual's religious beliefs, the State refuses to
declare that the practice of modern and artificial contraception
or family planning methods is not a violation of religious tenets.
In fact, it even recognizes that to declare otherwise IS
13
7
Section 3 (e) of R.A. No. 10354; Underscoring supplied.
138 Ebralinag us. The Division Superintendent of Schools of Cebu, 219 SCRA 257
139 G.R. No. L-13954, August 12, 1959.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
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G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
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79
unconstitutional. Thus, the State values and respects .one's
preference and only endeavors to provide him or her with
intelligent, unbiased and informed choices.
Section 23 (A)( 1) of the RH
Law does not violate the
freedom of expression under
Section 4, Article III of the
1987 Philippine
Constitution.
The prohibition in Section 23
(A)(l) of the RH Law is against
prohibited conduct, not speech.
It bears repeating at the outset that Congress has the
inimitable power to d ~ f i n e unlawful acts that need to be
regulated or prohibited. The power to define crimes and
prescribe their corresponding penalties is legislative in nature
and inherent in the sovereign power of the State to maintain
social order as an aspect of police power. The legislature may
even forbid and penalize acts formerly considered innocent
and lawful provided that no constitutional rights have been
abridged.I40
Withholding or restricting information or providing
incorrect information primarily contemplate actions and not
speech. To argue otherwise on the basis that speech
accompanies the prohibited conduct is to improperly de-
compartmentalize the act. The rule is that conduct may be
regulated even though it is intertwined with expression.I4I The
ruling of this Honorable Court in Southern Hemisphere
Engagement vs. Anti-Terrorism Councill42 is instructive:
Petitioners' notion on the transmission of message
is entirely inaccurate, as it unduly focuses on just one
particle of an element of the crime. Almost every
commission of a crime entails some mincing of words on
the part of the offender like in declaring to launch overt
criminal acts against a victim, in haggling on the
1
4
0 People vs. Siton, 600 SCRA 476 (2009).
141 Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 559 (1965).
142 632 SCRA 146 (2010).
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
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amount of ransom or conditions, or In negotiating
deceitful transaction. xxx XXX xxx
Utterances not elemental but inevitably incidental
to the doing of the criminal conduct alter neither the
intent of the law to punish socially harmful nor the
essence of the whole act as conduct and not speech.
80
The fact, therefore, that the conduct proscribed under
Section 23 (A) (1) may be carried out accompanied with some
speech does not make it protected speech under Section 4,
Article III of the Constitution. It rarely has been suggested that
the constitutional freedom of speech and press extends its
immunity to speech or writing used as an integral part of
conduct in violation of a valid criminal statute.I43 As
elucidated in the leading case of Giboney v. Empire Storage
& Ice Co.:
144
x x x But placards used as an essential and
inseparable part of a grave offense against an important
public law cannot imtnunize that unlawful conduct from
state control. Virginia Electric Co. v. Board, 319 U. S.
533, 319 U. S. 539; Thomas v. Collins, 323 U. S. 516,
323 U. S. 536, 323 U. S. 537, 323 U. S. 538, 323 U. S.
539-540. Nor can we say that the publication here
should not have been restrained because of the
possibility of separating the picketing conduct into
illegal and legal parts. Thomas v. Collins, supra, at 323
U. S. 547. For the placards were to effectuate the
purposes of an unlawful combination, and their sole,
unlawful immediate objective was to induce Empire to
violate the Missouri law by acquiescing in unlawful
demands to agree not to sell ice to non-union peddlers.
It is true that the agreements and course of conduct
here were, as in most instances, brought about
through speaking or writing. But it has never been
deemed an abridgment of freedom of speech or press
to make a course of conduct illegal merely because
the conduct was in part initiated, evidenced, or
carried out by means of language, either spoken, .
written, or printed. See e.g., Fox v. Washington, 236 U.
S. 273, 236 U. S. 277; Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire,
315 U. S . .568. Such an expansive interpretation of the
constitutional guaranties of speech and press would
14
3 Giboney v. Empire Storage & Ice Co., 336 U.S. 490 (1949).
144 Ibid.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
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make it practically impossible ever to enforce laws
against agreements in restraint of trade, as well as
many other agreements and conspiracies deemed
injurious to society.145
81
Similarly in the instant case, any speech or
communication used as an essential and inseparable part of a
grave offense against an important public law cannot
immunize that unlawful conduct from. state control. To
reiterate, the important public interest advanced by the RH
Law is to provide accessible, effective and quality reproductive
health care services 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 health, responsible parenthood, social
justice and full human development.
1
4
6
This objective of the
State will be rendered inutile without giving the people full,
unbiased and accurate information about reproductive health
care services. This is what Section 23 (A) ( 1) of the RH Law
wishes to secure.
Also, it must be underscored that the RH Law promotes
the ideas of informed choice and voluntarism. Informed choice
and voluntarism means effective access to information that
allows individuals to freely make their own decision, upon the
exercise of free choice and not obtained by any special
inducements or forms of coercion or misinterpretation, based
on accurate and complete information on a broad range of
reproductive health services.
147
Thus, in achieving this end, a
health care service provider must act with good faith in the
exercise of his or her duties. By good faith means refrair.ing
from coercing or misleading patients with incomplete,
inaccurate and incorrect information. It cannot be gainsaid
that the State has the right and duty to prohibit and penalize
a health care service provider who acts otherwise.
Fittingly, legislative determination of the breadth of
public interest should command respect for Congress is the
constitutional body vested with the power to enact laws. Its
representative composition induces judgment culled from the
145 Emphasis supplied.
146 Section 3 (c) of R.A. No. 10354.
147
Rule 3, Section 3.01 (w) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 10354.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
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82
diverse regions of the country. Normally, this should assure
that a piece of police legislation is a reflection of what public
interest contemporaneously encompasses.
148
A facial challenge on the
constitutionality of the
Reproductive Health Law)
specifically Section 23 (A) (1)
and Section 24 thereof, will not
prosper.
As previously argued, the RH Law seeks to regulate
conduct and not speech. Facial analysis of the validity of a
statute is only permissible in free speech cases and is not
applicable to penal laws. Thus:
x x x A litigant cannot thus successfully mount a
facial challenge against a criminal statute on either
vagueness or overbreadth grounds.
The allowance of a facial challenge in free speech
cases is justified by the aim to avert the "chilling effect"
on protected speech, the exercise of which should not at
all times be abridged. As reflected earlier, this rationale
is inapplicable to plain penal statutes that generally
bear an "in terrorem effect" in deterring socially harmful
conduct. In fact, the legislature may even forbid and
penalize acts formerly considered innocent and lawful,
so long as it refrains from diminishing or dissuading the
exercise of constitutionally protected rights.
XXX
[T]he rule established in our jurisdiction is, only
statutes on free speech, religious freedom, and other
fundamental rights may be facially challenged. Under
no case may ordinary penal statutes be subjected to a
facial challenge. The rationale is obvious. If a facial
challenge to a penal statute is permitted, the
prosecution of crimes may be hampered. No prosecution
would be possible. A strong criticism against employing
a facial challenge in the case of penal statutes, if the
same is allowed, would effectively go against the grain of
the doctrinal requirement of an existing and concrete
14
8 In the Matter of Petition for l)eclaratory Relief Re Constitutionality of Republic Act
4880. See also Arsenio Gonzales and Felicisimo R. Cabigao vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. L-
27833, April 18, 1969.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
controversy before judicial power may be appropriately
exercised. A facial challenge against a penal statute is,
at best, amorphous and speculative. It would,
essentially, force the court to consider third parties who
are not before it. As I have said in my opposition to the
allowance of a facial challenge to attack penal statutes,
such a test will impair the State's ability to deal with
crime. If warranted, there would be nothing that can
hinder an accused from defeating the State's power to
prosecute on a mere showing that, as applied to third
parties, the penal statute is vague or overbroad,
notwithstanding that the law is clear as applied to
him.149
83
Indeed, an "on-its-face" invalidation of criminal statutes
would result in a mass acquittal of parties whose cases may
not have even reached the courts. Such invalidation would
constitute a departure from the usual requirement of "actual
case and controversy" and permit decisions to be made in a
sterile abstract context having no factual concreteness.150 .The
import of this explanation should not be lost in the instant
case but should be upheld.
Alcantara, Pro Life, and the rest of the petitioners in
this case claim that they filed their respective petitions in their
capacities as members of the Bar, taxpayers, citizens,
Catholics, priests, former seminarians, teachers, educational
institutions, lawyers, doctors, businessmen and parents.
However, they have not demonstrated an actual and personal
interest over the penal provision of the Reproductive Health
Law. Neither have they shown the existence of an imminent
threat of an actual filing of a criminal offense against them,
nor have they proved that the implementation of the law
forbids the performance of a constitutionally protected activity
or conduct. On this score, this Honorable Court's ruling in
Southern Hemisphere Engagement vs. Anti-Terrorism
Council15
1
is enlightening:
Very recently, the US Supreme Court, in Holder v.
Humanitarian Law Prqject, allowed the pre-enforcement
review of a criminal statute, challenged on vagueness
grounds, since plaintiffs faced a "credible threat of
149
Southern Hemisphere Engagement us. Anti-Terrorism Council, 632 SCRA 146 [2010],
citing Justice Mendoza's concurring opinion in Estrada us. Sandiganbayan, 421 Phil.
290 (2001).
150 Romualdez u. Sandiganbayan, 435 SCRA 371 (2004).
151 632 SCRA 146 (2010).
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
lmbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
prosecution' and "should not be required to await and
undergo a criminal prosecution as the sole means of
seeking relief" The plaintiffs therein filed an action
before a federal court to assail the constitutionality of
the material support statute, 18 U.S.C. 23398 (a) (1),
proscribing the provisiOn of material support to
organizations declared by the Secretary of State as
foreign terrorist organizations. They claimed that they
intended to provide support for the humanitarian and
political activities of two such organizations.
84
Prevailing American jurisprudence allows an
adjudication on the merits when an anticipatory petition
clearly shows that the challenged prohibition forbids
the conduct or activity that a petitioner seeks to do,
as there would then be a justiciable controversy.
Unlike the plaintiffs in Holder, however, herein
petitioners have failed to show that the challenged
provisiOns of RA 9372 forbid constitutionally
protected conduct or activity that they seek to do. No
demonstrable threat has been established, much less a
real and existing one.
Petitioners' obscure allegations of sporadic
"surveillance" and supposedly being tagged as
"communist fronts" in no way approximate a
credible threat of prosecution. From these
allegations, the Court is being lured to render an
advisory opinion, which is not its function.
Without any justiciable controversy, the petitions
have become pleas for declaratory relief, over which the
Court has no original jurisdiction. Then again,
declaratory actions characterized by "double
contingency," where both the activity the petitioners
intend to undertake and the anticipated reaction to it of
a public official are merely theorized, lie beyond
judicial review for lack of ripeness.
The possibility of abuse in the implementation of
RA 9372 does not avail to take the present petitions out
of the realm. of the surreal and merely imagined. Such
possibility is not peculiar to RA 9372 since the exercise
of any power granted by law may be abused. Allegations
of abuse must be anchored on real events before courts
may step in to settle actual controversies involving
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934, 204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
rights which are
enforceable .152
85
legally demandable and
Even on the assumption that the void-for-vagueness test
and the overbreadth principle apply to Sections 23(A)(l) and
24, the provisions remain to be valid.
A statute or act may be said to be vague when it lacks
comprehensible standards that men of common intelligence
must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ in its
application. In such instance, the statute is repugnant to the
Constitution in two (2) respects - it violates due process for
failure to accord persons, especially the parties targeted by it,
fair notice of what conduct to avoid; and, it leaves law
enforcers unbridled discretion in carrying out its provisions
and becomes an arbitrary flexing of the Government muscle.
153
The test in determining whether a criminal statute is void
for uncertainty is whether the language conveys a sufficiently
definite warning as to the proscribed conduct when measured
by common understanding and practice.l54 There can be
nothing vague about a penal law that adequately answers the
basic query "What is the violation?" Anything beyond -- the
haws and the whys -- are evidentiary matters that the law
itself cannot possibly disclose, in view of the uniqueness of
every case.
155
A perusal of Sections 23(A)(l) and 24 reveals that they
are not vague or ambiguous.
Firstly, words of a statute will be interpreted in their
natural, plain and ordinary acceptation and signification.
1
56 A
word assumes a special signification only when the legislature
intends to ascribe a technical meaning thereto.IS7 In the
present case, Congress obviously intended to use the wbrds
('incorrect" and "any violation" found in Sections 23(A) (1) and
24, respectively, in their ordinary sense.
152 At pp. 177 -179; citations omitted; emphasis supplied.
1
53 People v. Nazario, 165 SCRA 186, August 31, 1988.
154 Romualdez vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 152259, July 29, 2004.
15
5 Romualdez vs. Sandiganbayan, et al. G.R. No. 152259, July 29, 2004, citing Dans
vs. People, 349 Phil. 434, (1998).
15
6 Caltex v. Palomar, 18 SCRA 247, September 29, 1966.
15
7 PLDTv. Eastern Telecommunications Phil., Inc., 213 SCRA 16 (1992).
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R.Nos.204819,204934,204957, 205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
86
By definition, "incorrect" means, among others: amiss,
erroneous, false, faulty, flawed, improper, inaccurate,
inappropriate, mistaken, untrue and wrong.
158
Based on such
common understanding and practice, the phrase "incorrect
information" as used in Section 23(A)(l) means wrong
information on programs and services on reproductive health.
Likewise, it connotes information which denies an individual
the right to an informed choice and access to legal, medically-
safe, non-abortifacient and effective family planning method.
Moreover, every provision of the law should be construed
in relation and with reference to every other part.
159
Hence,
Section 23 (A) ( 1) must be read in conjunction with Section 3
(E), which states:
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: x x xl60
Under the IRR of the RH Law, what is to be made
available and accessible to the public IS full, age-and
development-appropriate information on responsible
parenthood and reproductive health care services. The DOH,
as the primary government agency mandated to implement the
RH Law, is tasked to review existing and/or develop
introductory materials on responsible parenthood and
reproductive health care services that will be disseminated in
all public facilities. These materials shall include scientifically
correct, evidence-based and comprehensible information on
mechanisms of action and benefits, including effectiveness,
contraindications, possible side effects, correct usage,
158
http: I /legal-dictionillL_thefreedictionary.com/incorrect, last9accessed on April 8,
2013.
15
9 Estrada vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 148560, November 19, 2001.
160 Emphasis supplied.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
87
availability, and other information as determined necessary by
the DOH.I61
The DOH 1s likewise tasked to submit an annual
consolidated report to the President and to Congress, which
annual report shall include relevant studies and researches
that may contribute to the improvement of the programs.
1
62
Clearly, what is incorrect information on reproductive
health care services can be readily discerned. Thus, a health
care service provider would always know what would
constitute a violation under Section 23 (A) (1). He or she would
never be ignorant or confused as to what kind of information
on responsible parenthood and reproductive health care
services would be accurate and full because the DOH will
always come up with relevant, scientifically correct and
evidence-based information to guide all health care workers.
To intentionally desist from giving this kind of information or
to intentionally give information that is diametrically opposed
to this one is what Section 23 (A) ( 1) aims to punish.
Simply put, a health care service provider is, at once,
warned that to knowingly withhold information or to
knowingly restrict the dissemination of information on
reproductive health care services that the DOH has come up
with; or to intentionally provide incorrect information about
reproductive health care services that is not in accord with
what the DOH has come up with is proscribed by law and has
punitive consequences.
It follows then that petitioner Alcantara's argument on a
violation on due process has no leg to stand on. Section 23 (A)
(1) is clear, free from ambiguity, non-arbitrary and reasonable.
So, too, an alleged violation under Section 23 (A) (1) will
always be subject to the dictates of due process, as guaranteed
under Chapter 5, Rule 16, Section 16.04 of the IRR of the RH
Law:
Section 16.04- Complaints and Investigation of all
Alleged Violations. All alleged violations of Section 23 of
the RPRH Act shall be reported to the DOH, which shall
1
61 Chapter 2, Rule 4, Section 4.03 of the IRR of R.A. No. 10354.
162 Chapter 2, Rule 15, Section 15.01 of the IRR of R.A. No. 10354.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
immediately conduct a fact-finding investigation. Upon
finding sufficient grounds to support the complaint,
such findings shall be referred to the appropriate fiscal
for criminal prosecution, without prejudice to the
institution of administrative proceedings. x x x
88
In the same vein, it is through a reading of the
mandatory and prohibitory provisions of the RH Law that the
coverage of "any violation" under Section 24 is determined. In
other words, the acts made punishable under Section 24 are
readily found in the law itself and nowhere else. Section 24
plainly says that non -compliance with any of these provisions
would subject a person to criminal liability. It cannot be
correctly argued, therefore, that one would be at a loss as to
what conducts are proscribed by the RH Law. Given this
defined limitation, the provision attains a reasonable degree of
certainty.
It may not be amiss to point out as well that, under
Philippine jurisdiction, there are, tn fact, several laws
containing the phrase "any violation" or words to that effect.
These, however, have never been declared void for being vague
on this ground:
1.1. Section 2-B and 3,
Commonwealth Act No. 108, as
amended
16
3
'
1.2. Section 5, Commonwealth Act No.
142, as amended;164
1.3. Section 7, R.A. No. 954, as
amended
16
5
'
1.4. Section 14, R.A. No. 1267;166
163
Section 2-B. Any violation of the provisions of this Act by the spouse of any public
official, if both live together, shall be cause for the dismissal of such public official.
Section 3. Any corporation or association violating any of the provisions of this Act
shall, upon proper court proceedings, be dissolved.
16
4 Sec. 5. Any violation of this Act shall be punished with imprisonment of from one
year to five years and a fine of P5,000 to PlO,OOO.
165
Sec. 7. Any violation of this Act shall be punished by a fine of not less than one
thousand pesos not more than two thousand pesos or by imprisonment for not less
than one month or more than six months, or both, in the discretion of the court. If the
offender is a partnership, corporation or association, the criminal liability shall devolve
upon its president, director, or any other official responsible for the violation.
166
Section 14. Criminal and Civil Liability. -Any person violating any of the provisions of
this Act, or, of any order or decision of the Court of Agrarian Relations, shall be
punished with a fine not exceeding two thousand pesos or imprisonment not exceeding
one year, or both, in the discretion of the Court and shall indemnify the aggrieved party
for the actual damages he may suffer. xxx
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R.Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
1.5. Section 19, R.A. No. 2717;167
1.6. Section 7, R.A. No. 3018;168
1.7. Section 15, R.A. No. 3452;169
1.8. Section 12, R.A. No. 3846; 170
1.9. Section 5, R.A. No. 3870;171
1.10. Section 4, R.A. No. 4569;172
1.11. Section 7, R.A. No. 5173;173
1.12. Section 2, R.A. No. 5183;174
1.13. Section 5, R.A. No. 6126;175
1.14. Section 5, R.A. No. 6359;176
1.15. Section 13, R.A. No. 6539;177
and
89
167 Section 19. Any officer or employee of the Electrification Administration who violates
or permits any agent or any other officer or employee of the Administration or any other
person to violate any of the provisions of this Act not specifically punished in the
preceding sections, and any person violating any provision of this Act or aiding and
abetting the violation thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed ten thousand
pesos, or imprisonment for not more than five years.
168 Section 7. Violations of the provisions of this Act or of any rules or regulations
issued thereunder shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than five years nor
more than ten years, and a fine of not less than five thousand pesos nor more than ten
thousand pesos, and immediate deportation after service of the sentence. xxx
169 Section 15. Any person who shall violate any provision of this Act or any rule and
regulation promulgated pursuant thereto shall be punished by a fine of not more than
ten thousand pesos and imprisonment of not more than five years. xxx
11o Section 12. Any person who shall violate any mandatory or prohibitory provision of
this Act, or any mandatory or prohibitory provision of the regulations prescribed by the
Secretary of Commerce and Communication under this Act, or any mandatory or
prohibitory provision of the International Radio Regulations, upon conviction thereof by
a court of competent jurisdiction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than three
hundred pesos or by imprisonment for not more than three months, or both, for each
and every offense.
1
71
Section 5. Any person who willfully violates any of the provisions of this Act shall be
punished with a fine of not more than two thousand pesos or with imprisonment and
shall be turned over by the clerks of court to the chief accountant of the Department of
Justice who in turn shall ,remit the same at the end of each fiscal year to the University
of the Philippines for the use of the U. P. Law Center in accordance with this Act.
1
72 Section 4. Violation of this Act shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one
thousand pesos or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.
1
73
Section 7. Penal Provisions. Any person, association or corporation who violate any
provision of this Act, or the rules and regulations made thereunder, shall upon
conviction, be punished with a fine of not less than one hundred pesos nor more than
five hundred pesos or by imprisonment of not less than thirty days nor more than six
months or both: xxx
174
Section 2. Any violation of this Act shall be punished with a fine of not less than five
thousand pesos and not more than ten thousand pesos and imprisonment of not less
than two years and not more than four years. xxx
175
Section 5. Any person violating any provisions of this Act shall be punished by
imprisonment of not less than three months nor more than two years and a fine of not
less than one thousand pesos not more than two thousand pesos.
176
Section 5. Any person violating any provisions of this Act shall be punished by
imprisonment of not less than three months nor more than years and a fine of not less
than one thousand pesos nor more than two thousand pesos.
177
Section 13. Penal Provisions. Any person who violates any provisions of this Act shall
be punished with imprisonment for not less than two years nor more than six years and
a fine equal in amount to the acquisition cost of the motor vehicle, motor vehicle engine
or any other part involved in the violation: Provided, That if the person violating any
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
1.16. Section 7, R.A. No. 6713.178
1.17. Section 3, R.A. No. 9439;179
1.18. Section 34, R.A. No. 10029;180
1.19. Section 12(a), R.A. No. 10073;181
1.20. Section 8, R.A. No. 10151.182
90
Indeed, the 'vagueness' doctrine merely requires a
reasonable degree of certainty for the statute to be upheld -
not absolute precision or mathematical exactitude:
Flexibility, rather than meticulous specificity, is
permissible as long as the metes and bounds of the
statute are clearly delineated. An act will not be held
invalid merely because it might have been more explicit
in its wordings or detailed in its provisions, especially
where, because of the nature of the act, it would be
impossible to provide all the details in advance as in all
other statutes.l83
A criminal statute is not rendered invalid merely because
of its reference to general terms, or in this case, words such as
"incorrect" and "any violation." Lawmakers have no
provision of this Act is a juridical person, the penalty herein provided shall be imposed
on its president or secretary and/ or members of the board of directors or any of its
officers and employees who may have directly participated in the violation. xxx
178
Section 11. Penalties. - (a) Any public official or employee, regardless of whether or
not he holds office or employment in a casual, temporary, holdover, permanent or
regular capacity, committing any violation of this Act shall be punished with a fine not
exceeding the equivalent of six (6) months' salary or suspension not exceeding one (1)
year, or removal depending on the gravity of the offense after due notice and hearing by
the appropriate body or agency. xxx
179
SEC. 3. Any officer or employee of the hospital or medical clinic responsible for
releasing patients, who violates the provisions of this Act shall be punished by a fine of
not less than Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00), but not more than Fifty thousand
pesos (P50,000.00), or imprisonment of not less than one month, but not more than six
months, or both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the proper court.
1
8 Section 34. Penalties. - Any person who violates any provision of this Act
implementing rules and regulations shall be punished with imprisonment of not less
than six (6) months but not more than three (3) years, or a fine of not less than Ten
thousand pesos (P10,000.00) but not more than One hundred thousand pesos
(PlOO,OOO.OO), or both, at the discretion of the court.
1
8
1
Section 12 (a) xxx Any person who violates any of the provisions of this Act shall be
punished by prision correctional in its minimum period under the Revised Penal Code or
a fine not exceeding Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00), or both, at the discretion of
the court.
182
Section 8. Penalties. - Any violation of this Act, and the rules and regulations issued
pursuant hereof shall be punished with a fine of not less than Thirty thousand pesos
(P30,000.00) nor more than Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) or imprisonment of not
less than six (6) months, or both, at the discretion of the court. If the offense is
committed by a corporation, trust, firm, partnership at association, or other entity, the
penalty shall be imposed upon the guilty officer or officers of such corporation, tntst,
firm, partnership or association, or entity.
183 Estrada us. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 148560, November 19, 2001.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
lmbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
91
constitutional or statutory duty to define every word in a law,
as long as the intent can be gathered from the entire act.
1
84
Finally, there is no merit in petitioner Alcantara's claim
that Section 23 (A) (1) is overbroad. The overbreadth doctrine
decrees that "a governmental purpose may not be.achieved by
means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade
the area: of protected freedoms.l85" The overbreadth doctrine,
however, is not intended for testing the validity of a law that
"reflects legitimate state interest in maintaining comprehensive
control over harmful, constitutionally unprotected conduct.
1
8
6
"
Undoubtedly, providing accessible, effective and quftlity
reproductive health care. services through full, accurate,
evidence-based and scientifically correct information 1s a
legitimate interest of the State. Misleading the public as to
what constitutes full, accurate, evidence-based and
scientifically correct information is a "harmful" and
"constitutionally unprotected conduct" that the State is
likewise justified to deter constitutional or statutory duty to
define every word in a law, as long as the intent can be
gathered from the entire act.l87
Section 14 of the RH Law
does not violate the right of
educational institutions to
self-determination under
Section 4( 1), Article XIV of
the Constitution.
The Constitution guarantees that academic freedom shall
be e ~ o y e d in all institutions of higher learning. Iss Institutional
academic freedom includes the right of the school or college to
decide for itself, its aims and objectives, and how best to attain
them free from outside coercion or interference save possibly
when the overriding public interest calls for some restraint.I89
184
Perez vs. LPG Refillers Association of the Philippines, Inc., 531 SCRA 431 (2007).
185
Estrada vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 148560, November 19, 2001, citing NAACP v.
Alabama, 377 U.S. 288, 307, 12, 2 L. Ed 325, 338 (1958); Shelton v. Tucker 364 U.S.
479, 5 L. Ed. 2d 231 (1960).
1
86 David vs. Arroyo, G.R. Nos. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489, and
171424, 3 May 2006.
187
Perez vs. LPG Refilters Association of the Philippines, Inc., 531 SCRA 431 (2007).
188
The 1987 Constitution of the Republic ofthe Philippines, Article XIV, Section 5 (2).
189
De La Salle University Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 127980, December 19,
2007.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934, 204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
92
It encompasses the freedom to determine for itself on
academic grounds: who may teach, what may be taught, how
it shall be taught and who may be admitted to study.190
The term "institutions of higher learning" refers to
colleges and universities.I
91
While the primacy of academic
freedom is regarded in the institutions of higher learning, it
must be emphasized that such freedom is not afforded to the
primary and secondary levels of education. This is clear from
the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission:
MR. VILLACORTA: Madam President, iyong konsepto ng
academic freedom, ayon sa tradisyon at jurisprudence,
ay napapaloob lamang sa mga pamantasan sapagkat
ang pamantasan ay hindi lamang isang paaralan kung
saan nagtuturo. ang mga guro, kundi isa ring
institusyon ng pananaliksik at iyon nga ang sinasabi
ninyo; iyong pananaliksik, scholarship at iba pang
kailangang garantiyahan ng academic freedom. Ngunit
ang elementary at high school ay primarily for teaching,
at sapagkat ang mga nag-aaral sa elementary at high
school ay mura pa ang kaisipan, lubhang mga bata pa
ang mga ito at hindi pa kayang mamili kung alin ang
tama at mali. Kaila71-gan siguro ay medyo alalayan pa at
pangalagaan ang pagbubuo ng kanilang kaisipan.
Siguro iyon ang dahilan kung bakit ang academic
freedom ay hindi pinapataw sa high school.
XXX XXX XXX
MR. GASCON: Ang punto kasi ni Commissioner
Villacorta ay, ang konsepto ng higher academic freedom,
by common understanding not only in the Philippines
but in other parts of the world, has been limited to
tertiary education and to institutions of higher learning.
Also, if we provide academic freedom to the other levels,
primary and secondary, it may cause some problems.
But I think the general intent is to give the assurance
that primary and secondary schools will not be
manipulated by, let us say, the government.
Section 14 of the RH Law clearly and directly provides
that the State shall provide age- and development-appropriate
19o Camacho us. Coresis, G.R. No. 134372 (22 August 2002).
191 Garcia us. The Faculty Admission Committee, G.R. No. L-40779 (28 November 1975);
UP Board of Regents u. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 134625, August 31, 1999.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et at.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
93
reproductive health education to adolescents which shall be
taught by adequately-trained teachers in formal and
nonformal educational system and integrated in relevant
subjects. Reproductive health education shall be implemented
in public schools supervised by the Department of Education,
which may be adopted by private schools. Obviously, the
students whom the assailed section aims to educate are those
belonging to the primary and secondary levels. Hence, the
issue on academic freedom becomes irrelevant.
The principles enumerated in
Section 3(h) are not blanket
applications of human rights
instruments inconsistent
with the Constitution.
The Philippines is bound by human rights instruments
because of its treaty and customary international law
obligations. The Philippines ratified the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women on
August 5, 1981, the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights on June 7, 1974, and International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on October 23, 1986.
The principles in these instruments reflect customary
international law binding on all States. Article II Section 2 of
the constitution provides that the Philippines "adopts the
generally accepted principles of international law as part of the
law of the land." Moreover, this Court has recognized the
binding nature of customary international law in its decisions
in Kuroda v. Jalandoni
192
, International School Alliance of
Educationsv. Quisumbing
1
9
3
, and Rubrico v. Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo.J94
There was a valid delegation
of powers to the Food and
Drugs Administration (FDA).
192 G.R. No. L-2662
193 G.R. No. 128845
194 G.R. No. 183871
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x------------------------------------,--------------x
94
It is a fundamental principle flowing from the doctrine of
separation of powers that Congress may not delegate its
legislative power to the two other branches of the government.
What cannot be delegated is the authority under the
Constitution to make laws and to alter and repeal them; the
test is the completeness of the statute in all its terms and
provisions when it leaves the hands of the legislature.
The RH Law is complete in itself. It sets forth the policy to
be executed, carried out or implemented by the delegate, the
FDA in this case, in Section 2. It fixes a standard and the
limits of such standards are sufficiently determinate or
determinable in Sections 3 and 19. It punishes violations
under Section 23 and imposes penalties under Section 24.
Hence, contrary to the allegations of petitioners ALFI and
PAX, the RH Law provided for adequate statutory limitations
on the FDA's regulatory power that it can only approve and
register reproductive health care services, methods, devices
and supplies which are proven medically safe, legal, and non-
abortifacient and do not prevent the implantation of a fertilized
ovu1n in accordance with scientific and evidence-based
medical research standards and in consultation with reputable
medical associations in the Philippines.
The RH Law likewise provided for penal clauses to give
teeth to the law. This obviates unbridled discretion on the part
of the implen1enting agencies or persons exercising such
power.
Further, the FDA has regulatory and supervisory
mandate over reproductive health care establishments,
facilities and health products. It is in the exercise of this
discretionary power, that the coverage over reproductive
health services and methods being offered by these
establishments and facilities becomes necessary.
Section 17 of the RH Law,
does not violate the
prohibition against
involuntary servitude under
Article III, Section 18(2) of
the 1987 constitution.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
lmbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
95
Article III, Section 18(2) of the 1987 Constitution states
that "[n]o involuntary servitude in any form shall exist. except
as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been
duly convicted." Involuntary servitude is explained and
defined as follows:
Involuntary servitude denotes a condition of enforced,
compulsory service of one to another. The word
involuntary means "not resulting from free and
unrestrained choice." It is not subject to human will.195
In Immediato vs. Rye Neck School District,
1
96 the Rye
Neck District instituted a mandatory community service
program whereby all public high-school students, in order to
earn their diplomas, must complete forty hours of community
service sometime during their four years of high-school. "They
n1ust also participate in a corresponding classroom discussion
about their service. The program has no exceptions or 'opt-out'
provisions for students who object to performing community
service." Daniel Immediato, a public high school student of the
district, challenged the mandatory community service program
as violative of his Thirteenth Amendment rights. He argued
that since the program '"requires students to serve others' or
forfeit a high school diploma," it "constitutes involuntary
servitude." The District Court dismissed the claim in a
summary judgment.
The U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, affirmed' the
District Court's dismissal of the constitutional challenge under
the Thirteenth Amendment, holding as follows:
19
5Reynaldo B. Aralar, Inherent Powers of State and the Bill of Rights: A Book on
Constitutional Law, (20 11 edition), p. 594; See also Rubi v. Provincial Board, 39 Phil
660.
196
73 F.3d 454 (2d Cir. 1996). The U.S. Supreme Court denied review to the petitions
questioning the Decision of the US Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, in this case, as
well as Decisions in the cases of Herndon v. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Board of
Education, 89 F.3d 174 (4th Cir. 1996), and Steirer v. Bethlehem Area School District,
987 F.2d 989 (3d Cir.) involving the same Thirteenth Amendment issue. [See: Rodney A.
Smolla, The Constitutionality of Mandatory Public School Community Service Programs,
62 Law and Contemporary Problems 113-140 (Fall 1999), p. 121 (online copy posted at
http:// scholarship.law.duke.edu/ cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article== 1149&context==lcp, last
accessed March 20, 2013.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
The Thirteenth Amendment provides: Neither
slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a
punishment for crime whereof the party shall have
been duly convicted, shall exist within the United
States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
x x x. The dispositive question, then, is whether
the mandatory community service program rises to the
level of ''involuntary servitude" contemplated by the
amendment.
XXX XXX
96
Taking a contextual approach, we have no
trouble concluding that the mandatory community
service program does not amount to involuntary
servitude in the constitutional sense. The work
required is not severe: students must perform only
forty hours of service in four years. Furthermore,
the nature of the work required and conditions
under which it must be performed are hardly
onerous. Students may choose among a nearly
infinite variety of organizations offering a
kaleidoscope of service activities. They are free to
arrange their own work schedules, and to work in .
the summers when other duties are
minimal.
It is important to note that the purpose of the
program is not exploitative. Rather, it is educational,
particularly when coupled with the related classroom
discussions. Finally, the level of coercion is not so high
as to compel a finding of involuntary servitude.
Although students who forego their required service will
not graduate, they may avoid the program and its
penalties by attending private school, transferring to
another public high school, or studying at home to
achieve a high school equivalency certificate. While
these choices may be economically or
psychologically painful, choices they are,
nonetheless. They might not render the program
voluntary, but they contribute to the conclusion that it
is not involuntary servitude.l97
XXX XXX XXX
197 Emphasis supplied.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et at., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
97
Applying the "contextual approach" to the present case, it
is respectfully submitted that Section 17 of the RH Law does
not constitute involuntary servitude. The rendition of 48
hours of pro bono reproductive health services in a year can
hardly be considered as forced labor analogous to slavery. The
healthcare service providers have the discretion as to the
manner and time of complying with the requirement. They can
also choose the method of service they will provide:
counseling, . consultations, making referrals, conducting
examinations or running tests. In other words, the flexible
nature of Section 17 of the RH Law does not unduly interfere
with the normal performance of their services.
That there is no involuntary servitude in Section 17 of
the RH Law is clear from the language of the provision itself.
First, Section 17 states that private and non-government
reproductive healthcare service providers are "encouraged to
provide at least forty-eight (48) hours annually of reproductive
health services". The operative word is "encouraged", which
connotes free will and voluntariness. It is merely permissive
and does not compel. The discretion lies on the medical
service provider on whether to render the pro bono service or
not. They are not mandated to provide reproductive health
service for free. The choice on whether to be accredited by the
PhilHealth or not pertains to the practitioner.
Along this line, it should be emphasized that
accreditation with the PhilHealth is a privilege and not a
matter of right. Thus, practitioners who wish to be accredited
should choose to comply with the requisites for accreditation.
Additionally, it is noteworthy to stress that the Code of
Ethics of the PMA 1
9
8 advocates that physicians should fulfill
civic duties of a good citizen as well as conform to the laws for
the promotion of the common welfare. Financial gain should
only be a subordinate consideration:
ARTICLE I
GENERAL PRINCIPLES
198
Appendix J, Medical Jurisprudence by Rustico T. Belen (First edition, 2009).
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
Section 1. The primary objective of the practice of
medicine is service to mankind irrespective of race, age,
disease, disability, gender, sexual orientation, social
standing, creed or political affiliation. In medical
practice, reward or financial gain should be a
subordinate consideration.
XXX
Section 3. Physicians should fulfill the civic duties of
a good citizen, must conform to the laws and
cooperate with the proper authorities in the application
of medical knowledge for the promotion of the common
welfare.
1
9
9
Section 17 of the RH Law
does not violate the equal
protection clause of the
Constitution.
98
In PAGCOR vs. BIR and John and Jane Doe,2
0
this
Honorable Court held that legislative bodies are allowed to
classifY the subjects of legislation provided that they will
conform with the requirements of the equal protection clause:
Legislative bodies are allowed to classify the
subjects of legislation. If the classification is reasonable,
the law may operate only on some and not all of the
people without the equal protection clause. The
classification must, as an indispensable requisite, not
be arbitrary. To be valid, it must conform to the
following requirements:
1) It must be based on substantial
distinctions.
2) It must be germane to the purposes of
the law.
3) It must not be limited to existing
conditions only.
4) It must apply equally to all members of
the class.
199 Emphasis supplied.
2oo G.R. No. 172087, March 15, 2011
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
99
Furthermore, as explained in the recent case of Pichay v.
ODESLA, et. al. :201
The equal protection clause is not infringed by
legislation which applies only to those persons falling
within a specified class, if it applies alike to all persons
within such class, and reasonable grounds exist for
making a distinction between those who fall within
such class and those who do not.2o2
Section 2.01 (t) of the Implementing Rules and
Regulations of the RH Law enumerated the health care
providers who will provide reproductive healthcare services, to
wit:
t) Health care provider refers to:
1. A health care institution, which is duly
licensed by the Department of Health (DOH)
devoted primarily to the maintenance and
operation of facilities for health promotion,
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.
It shall also be construed as any institution,
building, or place where there are installed
beds, cribs, or bassinets for twenty-four hour
use or longer by patients in the treatment of
diseases, injuries, deformities, or abnormal
physical and mental states, maternity cases
or sanitaria! care; or infirmaries, nurseries,
dispensaries, and such other similar names
by which they may be designated; or
2. A skilled health professional, as defined
in these Rules; or
3. A health maintenance organization,
which is an entity that provides, offers, or
arranges for coverage of designated health
services needed by plan members for a fixed
prepaid premium; or
2o1 G.R. No. 196425, July 24, 2012
2o2 Emphasis supplied.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
4. A community-based health care
organization, which is an association of
indigenous member of the community
organized for the purpose of improving the
health status of that community through
preventive, promotive and curative health
services.
100
Clearly, reproductive health care service providers fall
within a certain class of medical practitioners. Therefore,
reasonable grounds exist in making substantial distinctions
between them and other healthcare service providers who are
not providing reproductive healthcare services.
In addition, distinction is made between public and
private reproductive h e ~ l t h workers. Public health care service
providers are separately defined by the RH Law and its
implementing rules and regulations, thus:
(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).2o3
Without a doubt, substantial distinctions exist between
health care providers who are providing reproductive
healthcare services and those who are not. And among
reproductive health workers are further validly classified as
private and public healthcare providers.
20
3 Section 4(n) of RA 10354 and letter qq., section 3.01 of the IRR of RA 10354.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
101
Additionally, subjecting these reproductive health care
providers to render pro bono services to indigent women is
germane to the aim of the RH Law, the main purpose of which
is the promotion public health and welfare, specifically giving
emphasis to the poor women and children which are
undoubtedly one of the priority sectors of our society. This is
clearly rooted to the constitutional precept of protecting the
welfare of the common good. Lastly, all members of the
reproductive healthcare providers are similarly treated, both
as to the rights conferred and obligations imposed.
The enactment of the RH
Law is a policy
determination involving the
wisdom of the law, which
exclusively lies within the
province of the Legislature.
When the Legislature enacts
laws, courts cannot strike it
down as unconstitutional on
the mere ground that there
is no economic or social
justification for its
enactment.
The decision on whether to proceed with the enactment
of the RH law properly pertains to the legislative branch. When
the House of Representatives and the Senate decided to enact
the RH law, it was making a policy decision, the wisdom for
which the courts cannot look into.
Economic, political or social justifications for the
enactment of laws go into the wisdom of the law, which IS
outside the purview of judicial review.2o4
In ABAKADA GURO vs Ermita,2os this Honorable Court
reminded:
xxx policy matters are not the concern of the Court.
Government policy is within the exclusive dominion of
204
LeagueofCitiesofthePhil. us. COMELEC, G.R. No. 176951, Apri112, 2011.
20SG.R. No. 168056, September 1, 2005.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
the political branches of the government. It is not for
this Court to look into the wisdom or propriety of
legislative determination. Indeed, whether an enactment
is wise or unwise, whether it is based on sound
economic theory, whether it is the best means to
achieve the desired results, whether, in short, the
legislative discretion within its prescribed limits should
be exercised in a particular manner are matters for the
judgment of the legislature, and the serious conflict of
opinions does not suffice to bring them within the range
of judicial cognizance. In the same vein, the Court in
this case will not dawdle on the purpose of Congress or
the executive policy, given that it is not for the judiciary
to "pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or
expediency of legislation."
102
In the Explanatory Note206 for Senate Bill No. 2768 (one
of the precursors of the RH Law), Senator Lacson highlighted
the need to address the pressing problems of an inordinately
enormous debt service and an extremely huge population. He
explained that these seriously affect the quality of life of
Filipinos and has resulted in such pernicious effects such as
health problems among children, child labor and prostitution
among children.
For her part, Senator Defensor-Santiago, in the
Explanatory Note for Senate Bill No. 2378 (another precursor
of the RH Law), declared that the Bill was a response to
constitutional provisions on women's right to health. She
mentioned the following demographics:
Eleven (11) Filipino women, die every twenty-four
hours daily due to pregnancy and childbirth-related
complications. Thus, the Philippines has one of the
highest Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) in Asia.
More than 60o/o of pregnancies in the Philippines is
classified as high-risk (2003 National Demographic and
Health Survey).
2.6 million Filipino women would like to plan their
families but lack information and access to do so.
(Family Planning Survey 2006)
Adolescent pregnancy is 30% of annual births.
She then concluded that:
206Fifteenth Congress; First Regular Session; March 31, 2011.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x--------------------------------------------------x
Reproductive health and family planning
significantly improves maternal health and lowers
maternal morbidity. Having the ability to plan and space
children will afford women more employment,
educational opportunities, and ultimately, economic
empowerment. xxx
103
Further, Senate Resolution No. 238 introduced by
Senator Pia Cayetano directed the Senate Committee on
Health and Demography to inquire, in aid of legislation, on the
status of the Philippines in attaining the millennium
development goals specifically on reducing child mortality,
improving maternal health, and eradicating HIV I AIDS,
Malaria, and other diseases. Its whereas clauses provide the
policy decision for the passage of the RH Law, thus:
xxx WHEREAS, the child mortality rate of the
Philippines was estimated at 19 deaths per 1, 000 live
births between 1988 and 1992 and went down to 12 per
1,000 live births thereafter and remained at that level
between 1999 and 2003, and that the most common
causes of child deaths are pneumonia, accidents, and
diarrhea;
xxx WHEREAS, there is a need to improve maternal
mortality in the Philippines since according to the
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) at least ten
Filipino mothers die everyday while giving birth and that
the 162 per 100,000 live births maternal mortality rate
of the Philippines is relatively high compared with other
developing countries such as Thailand and Malaysia;
xxx WHEREAS, according to the World Health
Organization (WHO), many mothers die because of
inadequate prenatal and postnatal care either because
they did not have access to, or could not afford, these
services or simply because they lacked the proper
information; xxx
xxx WHEREAS, one of the keys to saving the lives of
women and their newborns is access to reproductive
healthcare, including contraception to enable them to
control the number and spacing of their children; xxx
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
The RH Law does not violate
natural law.
104
The "natural law" which some petitioners invoke
possesses no universal character. What proves this conclusion
is the discussion of natural law by Chief Justice Puna in his
separate concurring optnton in Republic vs.
Sandiganbayan
207
, which ironically petitioners themselves cite
in support of their thesis.
Chief Justice Puna stated that "[n]evertheless, even in the
absence of a positive law granting private respondent
Dimaano, the right against unreasonable search and seizure
at the time her house was raided, I respectfully submit that
she can invoke her natural right against unreasonable s e ~ r c h
and seizure."
Chief Justice Puna clearly recognized the peculiarity of
the situation in Republic vs. Sandiganbayan and warned
against gratuitous use of Natural Law to invalidate statutes
legitimately passed by the legislative branch:
I wish to stress that I am not making the duty of
the Court unbearably difficult by taking it to task every
time a right is claimed before it to determine whether it
is a natural right which the government cannot diminish
or defeat by any kind of positive law or action. The Court
need not always twice measure a law or action, first
utilizing the constitution and second using natural law
as a yardstick. However, the 1986 EDSA Revolution was
extraordinary, one that borders the miraculous. It was
the first revolution of its kind in Philippine history, and
perhaps even in the history of this planet. Fittingly, this
separate opinion is the first of its kind in this Court,
where history and philosophy are invoked not as aids in
the interpretation of a positive law, but to recognize a
right not written in a papyrus but inheres in man as
man. The unnaturalness of the 1986 EDSA revolution
cannot dilute nor defeat the natural rights of man, rights
that antedate constitutions, rights that have been the
beacon lights of the law since the Greek civilization.
2o1 GR No. 104768, July 21, 2003.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R.Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
105
Without respect for natural rights, man cannot rise to
the full height of his humanity.2os
It is respectfully submitted that there is no demonstrable
universal acceptance for this doctrine that even remotely
approaches the universality of human rights. Pro Life et al.
simply state that "every prominent thinker on natural law ...
held this fact (that is, contraception violates the natural law)."
The near unanimous consensus among "prominent thinkers
on natural law'' cited by petitioners (who all are conveniently
Catholic writers and/ or professors in Catholic universities
espousing the traditional Roman Catholic view on
contraception), is not the same as universal acceptance by
nations of human rights. There is simply no basis to assume
that this is the same "natural law."
OPPOSITION TO PETITIONERS' PRAYER FOR
THE ISSUANCE OF A TEMPORARY
RESTRAINING ORDER AND/OR A WRIT OF
PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
(WITH MOTION TO LIFT THE STATUS
QUO ANTE ORDER)
Petitioners failed to satisfy
the minimum legal requisites
for the issuance of a
temporary restraining order
and/ or writ of preliminary
injunction.
Section 3, Rule 58 of the Rules of Court enumerates the
specific instances for the issuance of a preliminary injunction:
Sec. 3. Grounds for issuance of preliminary
injunction. A preliminary injunction may be granted
when it is established:
(a) That the applicant is entitled to the relief
demanded, and the whole or part of such relief consists
in restraining the commission or continuance of the act
20s Republic vs. Sandiganbayan, GR No. 104768, July 21, 2003.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
lmbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
or acts complained of, or in requiring the performance of
an act or acts, either for a limited period or perpetually;
106
(b) That the commission, continuance or non-
performance of the act or acts complained of during the .
litigation would probably work injustice to the
applicant; or
(c) That a party, court, agency or a person is
doing, threatening, or is attempting to do, or is
procuring or suffering to be done, some act or acts
probably in violation of the rights of the applicant
respecting the subject of the action or proceeding, and
tending to render the judgment ineffectual.
A writ of preliminary injunction may be issued in order to
prevent a threatened or continuous irremediable injury to a
party before its claim can be thoroughly . studied and
adjudicated. The purpose of the writ is to preserve the status
quo until the merits of the case can be fully heard. In Marquez
vs. DBP,
209
this Honorable Court enumerated the requisites
for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction, thus:
We have consistently held that the requisites of
preliminary injunction whether mandatory or
prohibitory are the following:
( 1) the applicant must have a clear and
unmistakable right, that is a right in esse;
(2) there is a material and substantial invasion
of such right;
(3) there is an urgent need for the writ to
prevent irreparable injury to the applicant;
and,
(4) no other ordinary, speedy and adequate
remedy exists to prevent the infliction of
irreparable injury.
Accordingly, the writ shall issue only upon a clear and
unmistakable showing that a right has been violated which
would warrant the necessity of its issuance.21o
209 G.R. No.141849, 13 February 2007.
210 Ibid.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
107
In the cases at bar, there is no material and substantial
invasion of petitioners' rights such that they will suffer from
irreparable injury.
As afore-discussed, none of the provisions of the RH Law
is inimical to any of petitioners' constitutionally granted rights:
1.1. RH Law does not violate the right to life of the
parties because it expressly prohibits the use of
abortion-inducing contraceptives;
1.2. RH Law promotes, protects and enhances the right
to health of the people, particularly mothers and
infants;
1.3. RH Law recognizes and accommodates a person's
right to faith. It excludes from its coverage health
facilities owned and operated by religious groups
and health care providers, who have objections
based on religious convictions. In fact, they cannot
be compelled to provide reproductive health
services when these would clash with their
religious beliefs;
1.4. RH Law does not inhibit the parents' rights to
raise their children according to their religious
beliefs.
1.5. RH Law complements and supports the parents'
natural duty to develop their children into efficient
and morally upright citizens of the country.
The provisions of the RH Law will not cause irreparable
damage to petitioners. Notwithstanding the passage of the law,
petitioners can still exercise their freedom of religion. More
importantly, petitioners can continue to enjoy the right to life,
right to health and the rights of the family. Being speculative
and factually baseless, their fears do not constitute an
irreparable damage warranting the issuance of a writ of
injunction.
211
Neither have petitioners established a paramount
necessity to protect their rights from the implementation of the
law. At this point, petitioners have not been compelled by the
State to comply with the provisions of the RH Law.
211
Cf Oroport Cargohandling Services, Inc. vs. Phividec Industrial Authority, G.R. No.
166785, July 28, 2008.
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
108
Also, none of them have been subjected to criminal
prosecution for violation of such law. In other words,
petitioners continue to enjoy their constitutionally-guaranteed
freedotns, despite apprehensions that RH Law tnay infringe on
their rights.
On the basis of the foregoing, it is clear that the
provisions of the RH Law do not constitute substantial and
material invasion of petitioners' rights.
It must likewise be noted that the RH Law was vigorously
debated by both Houses of Congress and it was signed into
law by the President of the Philippines. The RH Law enjoys
the presutnption of constitutionality. It is most respectfully
submitted that this Honorable Court act on these petitions in
consonance with the time-honored doctrine that the "task of
suspending the operation of the law is a matter of extreme
delicacy because that is an interference with the official acts
not only with the duly elected representatives of the people in
Congress but also of the highest magistrate of the land."212
PRAYER
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that the instant
consolidated petitions be DENIED for lack of merit.
;i
Respondents pray for sucp. other reliefs as may be just
and equitable in the premises.
Manila, May 5, 2013.
FRANCIS H. JARDELEZA
Solicitor General
IBP Life Member Roll No. 00037 /Roll No. 25719
MCLE Exemption No. III-008523
212
Ermita us. Eldecoa-Delorino, 651 SCRA 128 [2011].
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x

1 HERMES L. OCAMPO
A sistant Solicitor General
IBP Lifetime Roll No. 09135/ Roll No. 40169
MCLE Compliance No. IV-0016556, 04-11-13

MYiiNA N. AGNO-CANUTO
Assistant Solicitor General
IBP Lifetime Roll No. 06393/Roll No. 39183
MCLE Exemption No. IV -000597

DE PUERTOLLANO
As Solicitor General
IBP Lifetime Roll No. 01927 /Roll No. 36444
MCLE Con1.pliance No. III-0003827
cfl_ AA___
RAYMUND I. RIGODON
Senior State Solicitor
IBP Roll No. 922775/Roll No. 39730
MCLE Cornpliance No. III-0003833
__ _
L. DELA VEGA
Senior State Solicitor
IBP Roll No. 906468, 1-10-13/Roll No. 43561
MCLE
Frp;fr/Tf./ 'tirfr'>
Senior State Solicitor
IBP Lifetime Roll No. 08505 /Roll No. 44957
MCLE Compliance No. III-0022209, 11-15-12
"'-
MA.
State Solicitor
IBP Lifetime Roll No. 09210/Roll No. 50733
MCLE Compliance No. IV-0009098, 11-13-12
109
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X---------------------------------------C-----------X

DENISE S. DY-FLORES
Associate Solicitor
Life Mernber Roll No. 010412/Roll No. 57316
MCLE Compliance No. IV-0010602


Associate Solicitor
IBP Lifetime Roll No. 010780/ Roll No. 61207
MCLE Compliance No. IV-0016191, 04/10/13


EME;RSON S.
Associate Solicitor
IBP Roll No. 91423, 1 03-13/Roll No. 56723
MCLE Complian No. IV-0010542
(}
SO RAID A GUZMAN
Associate Solicitor
IBP Lifetime Roll No. 09799 /Roll No. 55357
MCLE C,on1pliance No. IV-0009173
,
MA. CRISTINA T. NAVARRO
Associate Solicitor
IBP Life Member Roll No. 08851 /Roll No. 56704
MCLE No.
/_/ / r' )
-;;Y;f!;.:;? ----
AIZA KA':fi.f}4_A L. SAN 'sE-VALDEZ
/ / 1/
Associate So 1citor
Roll No. 57351/IBP No. 935871/ April 16, 2013
MCLE Cornpliance No. IV-0010602

yv:
Associate Solicitor
IBP Lifetime Roll No. 08999 /Roll No. 567703
MCLE Compliance No. IV-0009094, 11-13-12
110
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
x---------------------------------------------------x
j;l!{{ll/_()..1]/ I L(l
IVAN MARKS. LADORES
Associate Solicitor II
IBP Lifetime Roll No. 09526 /Roll No. 56801
.IVICLE Compliance No. IV-0007603, 9-7-12
.

Associate Solicitor II
IBP Roll No. 906465, 01-10-13/Roll No. 56334
Com:Qliance No. IV-0009152, 11-13-12
"""''\
',
_ LE msAL.LABADAN
-- Associate Solicitor
111
IBP No. Lifetime No. 09527, 1-7-2011/Roll No. 57973
MCLE Compliance No. IV-0009111, 11-17-12

s. APouNAR
Associate Solicitor
IBP Roll No. 931106/Roll No. 59511
MCLE Compliance No. IV-0009172

_____ _.!UFAEL A. FLORANiiA:"--.
ttorney II
IBP Roll No. 923327, 1-10-13/Roll No. 60636
MCLE Compliance No. IV-0009150, 11-13-12
'
FRANCI GUARIN
rney II
IBP Roll No. 892555, 1-10-13/Roll No. 61013
MCLE Compliance No. IV-0009148, 11-13-12

Attorney II
IBP Roll No. 906467, 1-10-13/Roll No. 61212
MCLE Co1npliance No. IV-0009149, 11-13-12
CONSOLIDA'l'ED COMMENT
Imbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957 205043
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491'
X---------------------------------------------------X
lLYN G 0 G
ttorney II
IBP Roll No. 931105/Roll No. 61683
MCLE Compliance No. IV-0009171

R.
No. 57165
.::-:.:- MCLE No. IV-0009109
OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
134 Amorsolo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City
Tel. No. 8186381/9881661
112
EXPLANATION
(Pursuant to Rule 13, Section 11 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure)
The foregoing Consolidated Comment is being filed and served
through registered mail, personal filing and service being impracticable
due to lack of material time, and to distance and lack of personnel,
respectively. Advance copies of the same pleading are also furnished
petitioners through a private courier.
Copy Furnished:
James M: !mbong and Jo Aurea M. Imbong
Counsel for Petltwners/G.R. No. 204819
Imbong and Castro Law Offices
Unit 304 Senor Ivan de Palacio Building
139 Malakas St., Diliman, Quezon City
Atty. Maria Concepcion S. Noche
Counsel for Petitioners/G.R. No. 204934
MCS NOCHE LAW OFFICE
91 Melchor Street
Loyola Heights, Quezon City
Atty. Makilito B. Mahinay
Counsel for PetitionersjG.R. No. 204957
Diarrwnd St., cor. Jade St., Francisca Village
6th St. Happy Valley, Cebu City
LAD
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
hnbong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos.204819,204934,204957, 205043,
204988, 205003, 205138, 205478, 205491

Atty. Expedito A. Bugarin, Jr.
Counsel for Petitioner/G.R. No. 205003
No. 19 Country Club Village, Banilad
Cebu City
Atty. Nelson A. Clemente
Counsel for Petitioners/G.R. No. 205043
Penthouse, Aurora Milestone Tower
1045 Aurora Blvd., Quezon City
Attys. Earl Anthony C. Gambe and Marlon I. Yap
Counsel for PetitionersjG.R. No. 204988
Gambie and Yap Law Offices
Mandumol, Upper Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro City
Atty. Ricardo M. Ribo
Counsel for Petitioners/G.R. No. 205138
Rm. 206 Reza Building
1318 Quezon Avenue, Quezon City
Attys. Howard M. Calleja and Ramon Andre F. Cedro
Counsel for Petitioners/ G .R. No. 2054 78
Unit 1903-A, West Tower, PSE Centre
Exchange Road, Ortigas 1605 Pasig City
Atty. Alan F'. Paguia
Counsel for Petitioner j G. R. No. 205491
Corporate 1101 Building (Unit 412)
101 Mother Ignacia Street, Barangay South Triangle
1103 Quezon City
Attys. Rufino L. Policarpio III, Cristina A. Montes, and
Jeremy I. Gatdula
Counsel for Petitioners/G.R. No. 205720
Policarpio and Acorda Law Office
903 I<ichmonde Plaza, San Miguel Ave.
Cor. Lourdes Drive, Ortigas Center, 1605 Pasig City
Atty" Sarnson S. Alcantara
Petitioner-in-Intervention/ G.R. No. 204934
Suite 1402, 14th Flr., Manila Astral Tower
Taft Avenue cor. P. Faura St., Errnita, Manila
His Execellency Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III
Office of the President
Malacanang Palace, Manila
Senate of the Philippines
cj o Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile
GSIS Financial Center
Roxas Blvd., Pasay City
113
CONSOLIDA1'ED COMMENT
In1bong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
205003, 205491
X---------------------------------------------------X
House of Representative
cj o Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr.
Batasan Bldg., Batasan Hills
Diliman, Quezon City
Hon. Paquito H. Ochoa, Jr.
H:xecutive Secretary
lVIalacaflang Palace, J.P. Laurel Sr. St., Manila
Secretary Florencio B. Abad
Department of Budget and Management
Gen. Solano St., San Miguel, Manila
Secn:tary Enrique T. Ona M.D.
Department of Health
San Lazaro Compound, Sta. Cruz, Manila
Sec:a:etary Annin A. Luistro
Department of Education
DepEd Complex, Meralco Avenue, Pasig City
Seccetary Manuel A. Roxas II
Department of Interior and Local Government
EDSA cor. Mapagmahal St., Diliman, Quezon City
Secretary Corazon Soliman
Department of Social Welfare and Development
Constitution Hills, Diliman, Quezon City
HorL Arsenio M. Balisacan
Socio-Economic Planning Secretary and NEDA
Director General
12 St. Josemaria Escriva Drive
Ortigas Center, Pasig City
Philippine Commission on Wonten
c j o Chairperson Remedios Ignacio-Rikken
I 145 J.P. Laurel Street
San Miguel, Manila
Philippine Health Insurance Corporation
cj o President Eduardo Banzon
Citystate Centre
709 Shaw Blvd, Pasig City
Atty:s. Ibarra M. Gutierrez HI & Juan Alfonso P. Torrevillas
Counsel for Intervenors Ana Theresia "Risa" Hontiveros et. al.
No. 36-B Madasalin St. Brgy. Sikatuna
Diliman, Quezon City
114
CONSOLIDATED COMMENT
In1bong, et al., vs. Ochoa, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 204819,204934,204957,205043,
204988,205003,205138,205478,205491
X------------------------------------------- -------X
League of Cities of the Philippines
Thru: President Oscar Rodriguez
7th Flr., Unit J&K, CyberOne Building
Eastwood, Barangay Bagumbayan
Quezon City
League of Municipalities of the Philippines
Thru: President Donato Marcos
2nd Flr., LMP Building
265 Ermin Garcia Street
Cubao, Quezon City
Hon. Suzette H. Lazo
Food and Drugs Administration
Civic Drive, Filinvest Corporate City
Alabang, Muntinlupa
League of Provinces of the Philippines
Thru: President Alfonso Umali
Unit 1510 West Tower, Philippine Stock Exchange Center
Exchange Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City
115