Supreme Court Of The PhilippinesMANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) issued last March 18 a status quo ante order (SQAO) that stopped for four months the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 under Republic Act 10354.

In a full-court session, the SC also decided to hear oral arguments on June 18 on several petitions that challenged the constitutionality of the new law.

The SQAO was issued on a 10-5 vote of the 15-member SC.

Those who favored the issuance of an SQAO were Justices Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro, Arturo D. Brion, Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, Roberto A. Abad, Martin S. Villarama Jr., Jose Portugal Perez, Jose Catral Mendoza, and Bienvenido L. Reyes.

[box type=”default” size=”large”] Petitioners raise constitutionality question [/box]

Those who dissented were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio, and Justices Mariano C. del Castillo, Estela M. Perlas Bernabe, and Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen.

Earlier, the SC had asked the Office of the President (OP) and several other government agencies to answer the petition of former Senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad and his wife Ma. Fenny against RA 10354.

There are nine petitions filed with the SC against RA 10354. The SC has required the respondents in the cases to file their comments. It is expected that the comments would be filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

All the previous petitions, including the petition for intervention to dismiss the cases filed by the group of senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros, have been ordered consolidated into the first case filed by lawyer James Imbong, his wife and minor children.

Named respondents in almost all the petitions were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

In their petition, Tatad and his wife told the SC that RA 10354 violates the Bill of Rights in the Constitution because it “invades on the privacy of married couples in their most intimate rights and duties to their respective spouses.”

They also said the new law violates “the constitutional existence of Filipino ‘posterity,’ defined as ‘all the descendants of every Filipino in a direct line to the remotest generation.’”

At the same the same time, they pointed out that the RH law is “contrary to public morals and destructive of the harmony and peace of society.”

Lawyer Alan Paguia joined the Tatad spouses in their petition.

The other petitioners against RA 10354, aside from the Tatads and the Imbong family, were the Doctors for Life and Filipinos for Life (F4L), Serve Life Cagayan de Oro City, Task Force for Family and Life Visayas, Inc., Valeriano Avila, Expedito Bugarin and Eduardo Olaguer, and the Catholic Xyberspace Apostolate of the Philippines.

Malacañang will abide by the Supreme Court ruling that temporarily stops the implementation of the RH law.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda expressed optimism that the government can ably defend the Republic Act No. 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 during the oral arguments set by the High Court in June. (Rey Panaligan, Manila Bulletin)

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