Text of Petition in Intervention versus petitions against the RH Law


392983_10151902952538206_1679526980_nRepublic of the Philipines

SUPREME COURT

Manila

EN BANC

(James M Imbong and Lovely-Ann C. Jmbong, et al.v. Hon. Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., Executive Secretary, et al.) G.R. No. 204819
 (Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines,Inc. (ALFI), et al., v. Hon. Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., Executive Secretary, et al.) G.R. No. 204934
(Task Force for Family and Life Visayas, Inc. andValeriano S. Avila v. Hon. Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., Executive Secretary et al.) G.R. No. 204957
(Serve Life Cagayan de Oro City Inc. et al. v. Officeof the President et al.) G.R. No. 204988
(Expedito A. Bugarin, Jr. v. Office of the President ofthe Republic of the Philippines, et al.) G.R. No. 205003
(Eduardo B. Olaguer and the Catholic XybrspaceApostolate of the Philippines v. DOH Secretary Enrique T. Ona, et al.) G.R. No. 205043
(Philippine Alliance of XSeminarians, Inc. v. Hon.Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., Executive Secretary, et al.) · G.R. No. 205138
(Reynaldo J Echavez, MD., et al. v. Hon. PaquitoN. Ochoa, Jr., Executive Secretary, et al.) G.R. No. 205478
(Sps. Francisco S. Tatad and Maria Fenny C. Tatad,et al. v. Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines) G.R. No. 205491
(Pro-Life Philippines Foundation, Inc., et al. v.Office of the President, et al.) G.R. No. 205720

COMMENT-IN-INTERVENTION

Intervenors, Sen. Pilar Juliana S. Cayetano, Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral, Dr. Francisco T. Duque III, Dr. Jamie Galvez-Tan, Dr. Alberto G. Romualdez, Jr. and Dr. Alfredo Bengzon (collectively referred to hereinafter as “Intervenors”)  through the undersigned counsel and unto the Honorable Court respectfully ask for leave to intervene, and allege that:

  1. On 19 March 2013, the Supreme Court issued a Resolution which granted the Office of the Solicitor General a period of until 3 April 2013 to file a consolidated comment on the Petition which consolidated G.R. Nos. 205478, 205491 and 205720 with G.R. Nos. 204819, 204934, 204957, 204988, 205003, 205043 and 205138.
  1. On __________, the Office of the Solicitor General was granted an extended period of until ______________ to file the consolidated comment on the Petitions.
  1. Intervenor Cayetano is currently a member of the Philippine Senate and is the main author of Republic Act No. 10354 entitled “An Act Providing for a National Policy on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health.” The other Intervenors are former Secretaries of the Department of Health who are intervening as such and as medical professionals, citizens and taxpayers.
  1. All of the Intervenors may be notified of and served with pertinent processes through the undersigned counsels at 1904 Antel 2000 Corporate Center 121 Valero Street, Salcedo Village Makati City 1200.
  1. Petitioner Cayetano has a standing to intervene as it has been established that “legislators have a legal standing to see to it that the prerogative, powers and privileges vested by the Constitution in their office remain inviolate. Thus, they are allowed to question the validity of any official action which, to their mind, infringes on their prerogatives as legislators.”[1]
  1. Senator Cayetano and all the other Intervenors invoke the public interest and state that they have a clear legal interest in the matter in litigation.
  1. Allowing herein Intervenors to intervene in the instant case will not unduly delay the adjudication of the case. On the contrary, it will prevent multiplicity of suits.
  1. 8.   Moreover, the rights of the Intervenors will not be fully protected in a separate proceeding.

 

SUMMARY OF ARGUMENTS

 

  1. I.     The Petitions should be dismissed as the conditions for the exercise of the power of judicial review have not been met.

 

  1. 1.   The is no actual case or controversy.
  2. 2.   The question is not ripe for adjudication.
  3. 3.   The Petitions are pleas for declaratory relief outside of the jurisdiction of the Honorable Supreme Court.
  4. 4.   The Petitioners have no “standing” to challenge the law.

 

 

 

  1. II.   Republic Act No. 10354 is constitutional.

 

  1. 1.   It is consistent with the constitutional right to privacy.
  2. 2.   It is in furtherance of the Philippines’s state obligations under international law.
  3. 3.   It does not violate the freedom of religion.
  4. 4.   It does not violate of the right to life.

 

DISCUSSION

 

 

The Petitions should be dismissed as the conditions for the exercise of the power of judicial review have not been met.

 

Petitioners call on the Honorable Supreme Court to exercise its power of judicial review and declare Republic Act No. 10354 entitled “An Act Providing for a National Policy on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health” as unconstitutional.

In assailing the RA 10354 as unconstitutional, Petitioners are invoking the “judicial supremacy”  for the Supreme Court to assert the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution.[2]

However, it is well-settled that like almost all powers conferred by the Constitution, the power of judicial review is subject to limitations, to wit:

“Judicial review, which is merely an aspect of judicial power, demands the following:

(1) there must be an actual case calling for the exercise of judicial power;

(2) the question must be ripe for adjudication;  and

(3) the person challenging must have “standing”; that is, he has personal and substantial interest in the case, such that he has sustained or will sustain direct injury.”[3]

There is no actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of the judicial power

The requirement that there must exist a case or controversy is inferred from a reading of constitutional provisions on the grant of judicial power upon the Supreme Court.

Section 1, Article VII of the Constitution provides-

Section 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law.

Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.

Under Article VIII, Section 5 of the Philippine Constitution, the Supreme Court shall have the power, among others, to:

 

1) Exercise original jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and over petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus.

(2) Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari, as the law or the Rules of Court may provide, final judgments and orders of lower courts in:

 

(a) All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or executive agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation is in question.

From the above constitutional provisions, the requirement that there must be an actual case or controversy is clearly seen. Should no such case or controversy exist, the Judiciary may not exercise the power of judicial review vested upon it by the Constitution.

Passing upon the validity of laws when there is no case or controversy shall be tantamount to the Judiciary playing the role of another chamber of the Philippine Government, i.e., the legislature.[4]

Moreover, the “insistence on the existence of a case or controversy before the judiciary undertakes a review of legislation gives it the opportunity, denied to the legislature, of seeing the actual operation of the statute as it is applied to actual facts and thus enables it to reach sounder judgment.”[5]

In Guingona vs. Court of Appeals,[6] the Supreme Court discussed when an actual case or controversy exists, to wit:

“An actual case or controversy exists when there is a conflict of legal rights or an assertion of opposite legal claims, which can be resolved on the   basis of existing law and jurisprudence.    A  justiciable controversy is distinguished from a hypothetical or abstract difference or dispute, in that the former involves a definite and concrete dispute touching on the legal relations of parties having adverse legal interests.  A justiciable controversy admits of specific relief through a decree that is conclusive in character, whereas an opinion only advises what the law would be upon a hypothetical state of facts.”[7]

Moreover, the Supreme Court ruled that-

“The Court is not empowered to decide moot questions or abstract propositions, or to declare principles or rules of law which cannot affect the result as to the thing in issue in the case before it.”[8]

No such actual case or controversy exists in the Petitions assailing the constitutionality of RA 10354. The Petitions are based on hypothetical dispute and abstract propositions.  Failing such requirement to show that there exists an actual case or controversy, the Petitions should be dismissed.

Thus, Petitioners attempt at abstraction absent an actual case or controversy “could only lead to dialectics and barren legal questions and to sterile conclusions unrelated to actualities.”[9]

Judicial prudence should therefore be exercised and the power of judicial review be not exercised.

The fact that the Petitions are abstract propositions and hypothetical disputes may be gleaned from the arguments contained therein. Undoubtedly, the manner by which the Petitioners framed their arguments is such that there is no definite, concrete, real or substantial controversy that touches on the legal relations of parties having adverse legal interests.[10]

In G.R. No. 204819, Petitioners offer an abstract proposition that the Republic Act No. 10354 “introduces policies that negate and frustrate the foundational ideals and aspirations of the sovereign Filipino people as enshrined in the Constitution.”[11]

In G.R. No. 205003, Petitioner Bugarin, raises the argument that the “passage of Republic Act No. 10354 which is the first anti-family and anti-law in this country, will pave the way for the passage of other anti-life and anti-family laws such as: (a) same sex marriage law; (b) divorce law; (c) laws punishing criticisms of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders; and, (d) abortion law.”[12]

Petitioner Bugarin then posits that the Supreme Court should exercise its power of judicial review because, adopting the statement of Mother Theresa, “the fruit of abortion is nuclear war.” Petitioner Bugarin, thus, stated that-

“For the sake of our children and our children’s children, petitioner implores the Honorable Supeme Court and its sense of right and wrong as well as its highest and absolute fidelity to God’s laws, to shield our beloved country from a possible nuclear annihilation by declaring as unconstitutional Republic Act No. 10354.”[13]

The same is true with respect to the other Petitions. Petitioners in G.R. No. 204988 argue against the constitutionality of Section 9 of Republic Act No. 10354 on making available any product or supply included or to be included in the Essential Drug List on the condition that it is not be used as as an abortifacient. They argue that it is “like giving a child cyanide laced candy then giving the appearance of responsibility by saying don’t eat it but nevertheless hoping the child will eat the candy inasmuch as that would be one mouth less to feed and drain the resources.”[14]

In G.R. No. 205043, Petitioners therein also offer an abstract proposition that “when the FO (fertilized ovum) or later on when the implanted live fetus,  now a PERSON under the law, fails to survive due to the lingering lethal effects of either abortifacients or abortives, JUSTICE for such victims of serious physical injuries, homicide or even MURDER, will be practically impossible!”

Petitioners therein also argue that the fertilized ovum will be unconstitutionally discriminated against together with “the present husbands/fathers of existing FAMILIES legitimately married and faithful to their wives, where the latter independently and unilaterally a) refuse to have children sired by their husbands; or, b) merely AVOIDING to get PREGNANT by other men with whom wives are having pleasurable sexual “experiences” but unknown to their husbands; and c) are being tempted or PLANNING to have such adulterous relationships. Thus, the assailed law particularly under Sections 3 and 4 thereof… is veritably a state supported program for FACILITATING CUCKOLDRY or ADULTERY among married couples, and/or being the source of serious conflicts between spouses where either one of them refuses to have a child yet or even NEVER, but the other spouse wants to have a child as part of their mutual commitment in their marriage vows.”[15]

As the threshold requirement that there be an actual case or controversy existing is not met, the Honorable Supreme Court is called on to dismiss the Petitions and to not exercise its constitutionally-vested power of judicial review.

The question is not ripe for adjudication

 

Apart from the fact that there exists no actual case or controvery, the issue at hand is not ripe for adjudication as there is no actual injury sustained by the Petitioners as caused by the passing of the law being assailed.

In Lozano vs. Nograles,[16] the Supreme Court reiterated the principle of ripeness, to wit:

“An aspect of the “case-or-controversy” requirement is the requisite of “ripeness.” In the United States, courts are centrally concerned with whether a case involves uncertain contingent future events that may not occur as anticipated, or indeed may not occur at all. Another approach is the evaluation of the twofold aspect of ripeness: first, the fitness of the issues for judicial decision; and second, the hardship to the parties entailed by withholding court consideration. In our jurisdiction, the issue of ripeness is generally treated in terms of actual injury to the plaintiff. Hence, a question is ripe for adjudication when the act being challenged has had a direct adverse effect on the individual challenging it. An alternative road to review similarly taken would be to determine whether an action has already been accomplished or performed by a branch of government before the courts may step in.”[17]

Petitioners have not sufficiently shown that the law as it was passed has brought about direct adverse effect on them individually. This was because the case was brought too early. The controversy, if one may exist at all has not become concrete and focused. Thus, the court would find it difficult to evaluate the practical merits of each party.

Since the issue is brought too early, it is not ripe for judicial adjudication. The fact that it was brought too early is bolstered by the issuance by the Supreme Court has already issued the status quo ante order on 19 March 2013  before the law was even implemented.

 

The Petitions are Pleas for declaratory relief outside of the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court

In Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, the Supreme Court ruled that

“it has been established that “(w)ithout 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.”[18]

As argued above, there exists no actual case or controversy such as to meet the condition for  the Supreme Court to exercise its power of judicial review.

 

 

Petitioners have no locus standi to challenge the law

Another limitation to the exercise of judicial review is that the person challenging must have “standing”; that is, he has personal and substantial interest in the case, such that he has sustained or will sustain direct injury.

The Supreme Court, in many cases, has discussed this principle of locus standi. In Bayan Muna vs. Romulo[19], it explained that-

“Locus standi is “a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given question.” Specifically, it is “a party’s personal and substantial interest in a case where he has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result” of the act being challenged, and “calls for more than just a generalized grievance.”[20]

 

Moreover, in Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, the Court reiterated that “(l)ocus standi or legal standing is a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions.”[21]

Petitioners herein failed to meet the requirement that they show personal and substantial interest in the case where they have sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the passing of the RA 10354. What they allege is but a “generalized grievance” which was not sufficient to grant them standing to challenge the validity of the law.

At this point, it bears stressing what the Supreme Court has reiterated in David vs. Arroyo[22], to wit:

“Settled is the rule that courts are not at liberty to declare statutes invalid although they may be abused and misabused and may afford an opportunity for abuse in the manner of application.  The validity of a statute or ordinance is to be determined from its general purpose and its efficiency to accomplish the end desired, not from its effects in a particular case.”[23]

Republic Act No. 10354 is constitutional

 

The Law is consistent with the Constitutional Right to Privacy

The law in its entirety is constitutional. It is consistent with the right to privacy which has been recognized in our jurisdiction. It is so because the law opens up the choices of individuals in the realm of reproductive health.

This freedom of choice in marriage, family, and other forms of relationships lies at the very core of the right of privacy.

In Ople vs. Torres,[24] the Supreme Court emphasized that “(t)he essence of privacy is the “right to be let alone.”[25]

The state policy enunciated in the law is consistent with this right of privacy, to wit-

“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.”[26] (Emphasis supplied)

Moreover, the guiding principles of the law dovetail with this very essence of the right to be let alone, to wit:

(a) The right to make free and informed decisions, which is central to the exercise of any right, shall not be subjected to any form of coercion and must be fully guaranteed by the State, like the right itself;

(b) Respect for protection and fulfillment of reproductive health and rights which seek to promote the rights and welfare of every person particularly couples, adult individuals, women and adolescents;

xxx

(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 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;

(f) The State shall promote programs that: (1) enable individuals and couples to have the number of children they desire with due consideration to the health, particularly of women, and the resources available and affordable to them and in accordance with existing laws, public morals and their religious convictions: Provided, That no one shall be deprived, for economic reasons, of the rights to have children; (2) achieve equitable allocation and utilization of resources; (3) ensure effective partnership among national government, local government units (LGUs) and the private sector in the design, implementation, coordination, integration, monitoring and evaluation of people-centered programs to enhance the quality of life and environmental protection; (4) conduct studies to analyze demographic trends including demographic dividends from sound population policies towards sustainable human development in keeping with the principles of gender equality, protection of mothers and children, born and unborn and the promotion and protection of women’s reproductive rights and health; and (5) conduct scientific studies to determine the safety and efficacy of alternative medicines and methods for reproductive health care development;

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 the State’s obligations under various human rights instruments;

xxx

(k) Each family shall have the right to determine its ideal family size: Provided, however, That the State shall equip each parent with the necessary information on all aspects of family life, including reproductive health and responsible parenthood, in order to make that determination;”[27]

In Morfe vs. Mutuc,[28] where our Supreme Court first adopted Griswold v. Connecticut,[29]the constitutional foundation of the right of privacy was traced.

In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional right to privacy is recognized as an independent right that is fully deserving of constitutional protection.

The Supreme Court decided that-

“The Griswold case invalidated a Connecticut statute which made the use of contraceptives a criminal offense on the ground of its amounting to an unconstitutional invasion of the right of privacy of married persons; rightfully it stressed “a relationship lying within the zone of privacy created by several fundamental constitutional guarantees.” It has wider implications though. The constitutional right to privacy has come into its own.

So it is likewise in our jurisdiction. The right to privacy as such is accorded recognition independently of its identification with liberty; in itself, it is fully deserving of constitutional protection. The language of Prof. Emerson is particularly apt: “The concept of limited government has always included the idea that governmental powers stop short of certain intrusions into the personal life of the citizen. This is indeed one of the basic distinctions between absolute and limited government. Ultimate and pervasive control of the individual, in all aspects of his life, is the hallmark of the absolute state. In contrast, a system of limited government, safeguards a private sector, which belongs to the individual, firmly distinguishing it from the public sector, which the state can control. Protection of this private sector — protection, in other words, of the dignity and integrity of the individual — has become increasingly important as modern society has developed. All the forces of a technological age — industrialization, urbanization, and organization — operate to narrow the area of privacy and facilitate intrusion into it. In modern terms, the capacity to maintain and support this enclave of private life marks the difference between a democratic and a totalitarian society.”[30]

With the passage of the law, the right of individuals to make fundamental decisions and choices with respect to their reproductive health is actualized. The law recognizes that the “vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness of free men (and women)[31] with the declaration that “the right to choose and make decisions for themselves in accordance with their religious convictions, ethics, cultural beliefs, and the demands of responsible parenthood”[32] is recognized and guaranteed.

The law is consistent with the legal obligations of the Philippines under international law

 

The Philippines has the express legal obligations, under the following international treaties, and the law is in pursuance of this legal obligations-

  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (ratified by the Philippines without reservations on 23 October 1986) protects the “equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights set forth in the present Covenant,” including the “inherent right to life,” right to liberty and security of persons,” the “right to found a family,” among others.[33] With the Philippines’s ratification of the First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR (22 August 1989), without reservations), it recognizes the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee to hear individual complaints. Significantly, the Human Rights Committee has already interpreted the ICCPR to declare that “women should be given access to family planning and methods,” and a corollary government duty to provide family planning services and information.[34]
  • The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (ratified by the Philippines on 7 June 1974, without reservations) provides for the individual’s right to the highest attainable standard of health,” and the duty of the State Parties to “provide for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child.”[35] The Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights has noted that the right to health includes “access to health-related education and information, including on sexual and reproductive health.[36]
  • The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (ratified by the Philippines on 5 August 1981 without reservations) specifically obligates the State-Parties to: 1) “(e)nsure access to specific educational information to help to ensure the health and well-being of families, including information and advice on family planning”; 2) “take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care  in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning”; 3) “ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and post natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation; 4) “take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas (and) ensure to such women the right:…. (b) to have access to adequate health care facilities, including information, counseling and services in family planning:; and 5) “ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women… (e) the same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education, and means to enable them to exercise these rights.”[37]
  • The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (ratified by the Philippines on 21 h 1990) specifically obligates State-Parties to: 1) “recognize the right of the child to the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health… strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services,” 2) “take appropriate measures to develop preventive health care, guidance for parents and family planning education and services.”[38] The Child Rights Committee has interpreted the CRC to mean that “States Parties are encouraged to ensure that health services employ trained personnel who fully respect the rights of children to privacy (Art. 16) and non-discrimination in offering them access to HIV-related information, voluntary counseling and testing, knowledge of their HIV status, confidential sexual and reproductive health services, and free or low-cost contraceptive methods and services, as well as HIV-related care and treat if and when needed.”[39]

Significantly, consistent with the above legal obligations, the law declares that “(t)he 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.”

Moreover, the law instructs that “(n)o person shall be denied information and access to family planning services, whether natural or artificial.”[40] The law also mandates the DOH to “implement programs prioritizing full access of poor and marginalized women as identified through the NHTS-PR and other government measures of identifying marginalization to reproductive health care, services, products and programs.”[41]

The law does not violate the Freedom of Religion

The theme prevailing under the law is the grant of freedom of choice when it comes to reproductive health. The State does not impose upon the citizens the mode of family planning or type of contraceptives which they should use. Neither does it impose acceptance of any belief. It only prohibits those acts and practices, whether based on belief or whim, which deprive others of their right to reproductive health.

More importantly, the law widens  the spectrum of effective options for individuals and couples by providing them information and subsidizing access to contraceptives.

Adults are free to reject information relating to reproductive­ health provided by the State, for whatever personal reason which may or may not be related to their religious beliefs.

Insofar as children are concerned, it is the responsibility of State to provide information about the current state of knowledge which necessarily includes information about human beings themselves, how their bodies work, and what their bodies can and cannot do.

The inclusion of Age- and Development-Appropriate Reproductive Health Education in schools as directed by under Section 14 of the law is justified as part of the State’s constitutional obligation to create an environment that can produce healthy and informed citizens.

As for doctors and healthcare providers, the very nature of their work require them to act professionally, divorcing their personal views in the exercise of their profession.

Moreover, the absolute privileging of a doctor’s religion- based conscientious objection would amount to a viewpoint discrimination, which the State cannot do without violating the free speech and the non-establishment clauses.

What the Petitioners would have this Honorable Court do is to unduly interfere with the State’s Constitutional duty to defend spouses’ right to found a family because what they all want to do is to ultimately favor only natural family planning methods.

Contrary to what is envisaged under the Constitutional duty of the State, spouses are divested of any ‘real’ or ‘informed’ choice in founding their families, since Petitioners ostensibly favor only the Roman Catholic-sanctioned natural family planning methods.

If Petitioners were to have their way, the State ought to impose only a a single or unitary view on family planning upon all Filipinos.  This imposition is anathema to the State’s Constitutional duty to defend “the right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood”.

The State’s defense of spouses’ rights to found a family demands nothing less than embracing a pluralist approach to spouses’ decision to build a family.  Whether the decision is to use natural family planning methods or artificial methods of contraception, spouses must be free to choose solely in accordance with their religious convictions, if any, and the demands of responsible parenthood.

If at all, a single view of family planning violates the freedom of religion protected under the Constitution because it imposes only one view – the Roman Catholic one – and eschews the reality that the Philippines is a pluralist society of citizens who belong to different faiths, some of which may not necessarily share the same  convictions on family planning as the dominant faith in the Philippines.

In a situation of competing visions of the good, the State does not exist simply to protect majoritarian interests. That is not what a State founded on democratic principles is about. Rather, the State’s primary duty is to ensure public justice – the task of giving what is due to each differentiated sphere in society.

Thus, a political community such as ours should not be shaped as a religious community of whatever faith – Christian, Muslim, secularist, or a general civil religion. Instead, our Republic must be built as a community of citizens that finds no room for discrimination against anyone solely because of his/her faith.

Flowing from this, that every citizen must be given equal access and equal rights in the political community, regardless of faith, in the same way that they should be treated regardless of their skin color, gender, ethnicity, and social status.

The Law is consistent with the Constitutional Right to Life

The Petitioners harp on the alleged violation by the law of the constitutional protection of life.

In the very first place, it should be emphasized that the law clearly states that it does not legalize abortion. In fact, the law emphatically “recognizes that abortion is illegal and punishable by law.”[42]

Indeed, the questioned law assumes utmost  fidelity to the constitutional protection for the unborn.

Secondly,  it in fact, assures the right to life by providing a broad and comprehensive approach to maternal health care anchored on a generous view of the right to health of the people.

The Constitution mandates the State to “protect and promote the right to health of the people”.

In giving force to this right, the State is also obligated to “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.”

This exactly is what the questioned law intends to do: providing for the most liberal conditions to support the flourishing of life, not just for mothers but for families as well.

If Petitioners will have their way however, they will ensure that women will bear the brunt of their avowed policy of enforced ignorance.

Such regime as Petitioners want to implement is what Margaret Sanger referred to as “compulsory motherhood”—

The man and the woman have as much natural right to say how many children they will bring into the world and when, and to say when and whom and why they will marry….Barbarous peoples coerce their women into matrimony; civilized people coerce them into maternity under [anti-contraception laws].[43]

It is women who primarily bear the risk and consequences of pregnancy, unintended or not, with all its impact on their health, career, and other life choices.

The policy choices Petitioners want forces women into choosing between pregnancy and abstinence and, in effect, traps them in a system that compels women to suffer for engaging in acts of sexual intimacy.

Apart from severely limiting the fundamental right of women to decide whether or not to get pregnant, the disparate impact of prohibiting the implementation of the questioned law amounts to a denial of the equal protection of the laws as it places women (most especially those who are poor) at a severe disadvantage in relation to men in deciding on matters that affect the former more than the latter.

The fundamental right of the individual to associate entails the right to determine the details of intimate conduct or to control the terms by which that individual engages another in a purely personal manner.

Petitioners’ desired outcome ultimately denies women the flourishing of their right to life by also violating their right to equal protection in significant ways: (a) it disproportionately places in men the right to decide whether  women should get pregnant, and (b) it unfairly compels women to submit to that decision because the anti-contraception stance Petitioners want this Court to enforce will substantially impair women’s ability to nullify their partners’ decision (or ignorance).

Women are thus inevitably subordinated to male choices, and are denied appropriate public health care treatment and information that allow them to make the same reproductive choices as their male counterparts.

This denial of the ability to make informed consent which prevents women from deciding fundamental questions affecting their lives under conditions of parity is a clear violation of the Equal Protection Clause.

The Petitioners have no right to disempower the women Petitioners in relation to men under the guise of “moral regeneration.”

Further to this, the CEDAW Committee has recognized that child bearing imposes “inequitable burdens” on women in relation to “their right of access to education, employment and other activities”.

Therefore, states parties under CEDAW are mandated to “take all appropriate measures”  to eliminate discrimination against women and to ensure, on a basis of equality between men and women, access to “information and advice on family planning”  and to “health care services, including those related to family planning”.

 

PRAYER

WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully prayed that the Petitions be DISMISSED for lack of merit and the STATUS QUO ANTE ORDER be lifted IMMEDIATELY.

Makati City for Manila; 14 April 2013.


[1]
Biraogo v. The Philippine Truth Commission, G.R. Nos. 192935 and 192936, December 7, 2010 citing G.R. No. 189698, 22 February 2010.

[2] Angara vs. Electoral Commission, G.R. No. L-45081,  July 15, 1936

[3] Guingona vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 125532.  July 10, 1998 citing Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities vs. Secretary of Education, 97 Phil. 806, 810 (1955); and Tan vs. Macapagal, 43 SCRA 678, 680-682, February 29, 1972 and People vs. Vera, 65 Phil. 58, 89 (1937).

[4] Mendoza, Vicente V. Judicial Review of Constitutional Questions. Manila: Rex Printing Company, Inc., 2004.

[5] Ibid., page 86.

[6] G.R. No. 125532.  July 10, 1998

[7] Id. Citing Isagani A. Cruz, Philippine Political Law, 1995 ed., pp. 241-242.

[8] Pormento v. Estrada, G.R. No. 191988, August 31, 2010 citing Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305 (1988)

[9] Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, G.R. No.   178552, October 5, 2010

[10] Apormento vs. Estrada, G.R. No. 191988, August 31, 2010  citing Cruz, Isagani, Philippine Political Law, 2002 Edition, p. 259.

[11] Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition filed by Imbong et al., page 4

[12] Bugarin, Jr. vs. Offices of the Hon. President of the Republic of the Philippines, et al., page 7

[13] Id., page 8

[14] Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition filed by Serve Life Cagayan de Oro City Inc., et al., page 11.

[15] Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition filed by Olaguer and the Catholic Xybrspace Apostolate of the Philippines, pages 9 and 10.

[16] G.R. No. 187883, June 16, 2009

[17] Id. citing Tribe, American Constitutional Law, 3d ed. 2000, p. 335; Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136 (1967); Guingona, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, 354 Phil. 415, 427-428 (1998); Francisco, Jr. v. House of Representatives, 460 Phil. 830, 901-902 (2003); and G.R. No. L-34161, February 29, 1972, 43 SCRA 677, 682.

[18] Id. citing  LAWRENCE H. TRIBE, AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW Vol. I, p.332 (3rd ed. 2000), citing Steffel v. Thompson, 415 U.S. 452 (1974) and Ellis v. Dyson, 421 U.S. 426 (1975).

[19] G.R. No. 159618, February 1, 2011

[20] Id. citing David v. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, May 3, 2006, 489 SCRA 160 and Jumamil v. Café, G.R. No. 144570, September 21, 2005, 470 SCRA 475; citing Integrated Bar of the Philippines v. Zamora, G.R. No. 141284, August 15, 2000, 338 SCRA 81.

[21] Citing Integrated Bar of the Philippines v. Zamora, 392 Phil. 618, 633 (2000), citing Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962).

[22] G.R. No. 171396, May 3, 2006

[23] Id. Citing Uren v Bagley, 118 Or 77, 245 P 1074, 46 ALR 1173 and   Gutierrez v. Middle Rio Grande Conservancy Dist., 34 NM 346, 282 P 1, 70 ALR 1261, cert den 280 US 610, 74 L ed  653, 50 S Ct 158.

[24] G.R. No. 127685, July 23, 1998

[25] Id. citing Cooley on Torts, Sec. 135, vol. 1, 4th ed., [1932]; see also Warren and Brandeis “The Right to Privacy,” 4 Harvard Law Review 193-220 [1890] — this article greatly influenced the enactment of privacy statutes in the United States (Cortes, I., The Constitutional Foundations of Privacy, p. 15 [1970]).

[26] Section 2, Republic Act No. 10354

[27] Section 3, Republic Act No. 10354

[28] G.R. No. L-20387,January 31, 1968

[29] 381 U. S. 479, 484 (1965)

[30] Morfe v. Mutuc, citing Grisworld v. Connecticut at p. 485.

[31] Loving vs. Virginia, 388 US 1 (1967)

[32] Section 2, Republic Act No. 10354

[33] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, December 16, 1966, 21st Session, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (entered into force on March 23, 1976), Art. 3, 6(1), 9(1), 23(2), and 26.

[34] Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee: Argentina, 17th Session Para. 14, U.N. Doc. CCPR/CO/70/ARG (2000).

[35] International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, G.A. Res. 2200A (XXI), U.N. GAOR, Supp. No. 16, at 49, U.N. Doc A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 3 (entered into force on January 3, 1976), Art. 12.1 and 12.2.

[36] General Comment 14: The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health (Art. 12) (22nd Sess., 2000), in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, at 90, para. 11, U. N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.5 (2001)

[37] Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, adopted 18 December 1979, 34th Sess., U.N. Doc. A/34//36 (entered into force on 3 September 1981), Art. 10(h), 12.1, 12.2, 14.2(b), and 16.1.

[38] Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted 20 November 1989, 44th Sess., U.N. Doc. A/44/49, reprinted in LL.M. 1448 (entered into force on 2 September 1990), Art. 24.1 and 24.2.

[39] General Comment No. 3, HIV/AIDS and the right of the child (32nd Sess., 2003) in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, at para. 20, U.N. Doc CRC/GC/2003/3(2003).

[40] Section 7, paragraph 2 of Republic Act No. 10354

[41] Section 11, Republic Act No. 10354

[42] Section 3 (j), Republic Act No. 10354

[43] Brief on behalf of the Plaintiff in Error, at 40-41, Sanger v. People, 251 U.S. 537 (1919).

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