300,000 sign petition to lift contraceptive TRO
By Evelyn Macairan
MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Population has submitted to the Supreme Court (SC) 300,000 signatures of women calling for the lifting of the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the distribution and sale of contraceptive implants.
But there will be no immediate lifting of the TRO.
In a ruling promulgated during their summer session in Baguio City in April and released to media yesterday, magistrates of the high court’s Second Division gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 60 days to find out whether contraceptive drugs Implanon and Implanon NXT are abortifacient or not.
The SC also denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the Department of Health (DOH) seeking to lift its TRO on subdermal implants.
"The FDA is ordered to consider the opposition filed by the petitioner with respect to the listed drugs, including Implanon and Implanon NXT, based on the standards of the Reproductive Health Law," the SC ruling read.
Once the FDA has complied with the order, the SC will submit the case for resolution.
The high court said it would lift the TRO if it is proven that the contraceptive implants are not abortifacient.
The FDA was also instructed to amend the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 10354, the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.
"In denying the motion for reconsideration filed by the DOH, the court upheld its power to review the findings of the FDA and affirmed its finding that petitioners were denied due process because the FDA failed to consider their oppositions to the products and devices under consideration," the SC said.
The TRO has been in place since June 2015.
The petitioner, Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc., alleged in its complaint that the FDA had certified the two types of implants.
The DOH had stressed that these contraceptives are safe and not abortifacient.
Filipino women may end up buying and using unsafe and ineffective contraceptives if the SC will not lift the TRO on contraceptives, according to a women’s rights advocacy group.
Elizabeth Angsioco, chair of Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines, said the registration date of contraceptives would expire because of the TRO and this would lead to smuggling of the products.
"It is possible because there will be a huge demand and no supply," Angsioco said.
In June 2015, the high tribunal stopped the DOH from distributing subdermal implants.
The TRO also prohibited the FDA from renewing the certificates of product registration of these contraceptives.
As a result, 15 certificates of product registration for contraceptives expired last year while 10 expired this month, leaving only 23 contraceptives available to the public.
If this continues, there will be no more contraceptives available in the market by 2020, health officials said.
Angsioco said the TRO should be lifted as contraceptives are fast disappearing from the market.
"If contraceptives are not registered, these are considered contraband. There is no assurance on quality and safety since these were not subjected to FDA regulations," she said.