Executive order on unmet need for family planning signed, two more EOs await President’s signature

MANILA (PNA) -- The Commission on Population (POPCOM) on Wednesday welcomed the signing of the Executive Order on "Zero Unmet Need for Family Planning" last January 9.

The EO, signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on behalf of President Rodrigo Duterte, defines women with unmet need as those "who are fecund and sexually active and want to limit or space their children but are not using any modern method of contraception".

POPCOM executive director Dr. Juan A. Perez said the EO on unmet need strives to redeem the hard-fought Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH Law).

"The EO will push forth our desire to achieve happy, healthy and empowered Filipino families," Perez said, recognizing the efforts of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Health (DOH) in pushing for the implementation of the RPRH Law.

He further said that the EO will help intensify and accelerate the implementation of critical actions necessary to attain and sustain "zero unmet need for modern family planning" for all poor households by 2018, and all Filipinos thereafter.

The DOH, POPCOM and Department of the Interior Local Government (DILG) will collaborate with all local government units to accelerate mechanisms and strategies for the strict implementation of the RPRH Law.

President Duterte has been vocal about the need for a Family Planning program in the country, stressing the full implementation of the RPRH Law in his first State of the Nation Address in July last year.

With the signing of the EO, advocates and supporters look forward to the full implementation of the RPRH Law so that couples, especially the poor, would have the freedom of informed choice in the number and spacing of children they could adequately care for.

Advocates also hope that the EO would influence the Supreme Court to heed the call to lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued in 2015 banning Implanon and Implanon NXT, subdermal implants that inhibit ovulation for up to three years.

The TRO has threatened the availability of the implants due to delays in the registration and re-registration processes for family planning commodities.

Meanwhile, two more proposed EOs are awaiting the President's signature -- those on tobacco control and the regulated use of firecrackers.

"We followed them up in MalacaAang (during a cabinet meeting)," Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial said Wednesday when asked about the status of the EOs that were proposed last year.

Ubial said she is confident that the Office of the President would soon approve them since the presidential management staff has already completed its work. "So hopefully, within January, these EOs could be signed," she said.

Patterned after Davao City's no-smoking ordinance implemented by the President when he was still the city's mayor, the proposed EO for a smoke-free Philippines prohibits smoking in all public places in the country to protect the health of non-smokers. Advocates for a tobacco-free Philippines, among them New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) and Framework Convention on Tobacco Alliance Philippines (FCAP), are expecting the signing of this proposed EO.

Meanwhile, the proposed EO on the regulated use of firecrackers aims to control the ill effects of firecrackers by ensuring that LGUs designate a firecracker zone and promote the conduct of community fireworks display, wherein only those with proper skills could light the firecrackers.

The signing of the EO was postponed by MalacaAang in consideration of those whose livelihood depends on the manufacture of firecrackers.

Source: Philippines News Agency