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RH law goes to SC

CBCP lawyer’s son seeks TRO

MANILA, Philippines - A petition has been filed with the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to stop the implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) law, barely two weeks after its enactment.

James Imbong, who identified himself as a Catholic taxpayer and educator, filed a 24-page petition yesterday, seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the RH law or Republic Act 10354.

After President Aquino’s signing of RA 10354, local Catholic Church leaders declared that the high court would be the next front in the Church’s battle to have the measure trashed. But they said lay groups would likely do the actual legal battle against the controversial measure.

Imbong, son of CBCP legal counsel Jo Imbong, was joined by his wife Lovely-Ann in filing the petition. The couple operate the Magnificat Child Development Center Inc., which is also listed as petitioner.

The couple, both lawyers, said they filed the petition as “a class suit in representation of other parents and individuals similarly situated” and also on behalf of their two minor children.

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The petitioners argued that the RH law “negates and frustrates the foundational ideals and aspirations of the sovereign Filipino people as enshrined in the Constitution.”

They cited Article II Section 12 of the Constitution, which stipulates that the state “recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution.”

The constitutional provision also mandates that the state “equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.”

Petitioners said at least 11 provisions in RA 10354 violate the Constitution.

“The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of government,” the petition read.

“As regards the value of human life and its sustenance, the Constitution upholds the ideal of an unconditional respect for life and aspires for the establishment of policies that create opportunities to harness the economic potential of every Filipino,” it pointed out.

The petitioners also argued that the new law violates Article XV of the Constitution, which imposes on the government the duties to “strengthen (family’s) solidarity and actively promote its total development” and provide for “inviolable marriage” and ensure the “right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood.”

The couple added that the new law violates constitutional freedom of religion and expression and creates doubtful or spurious rights called reproductive health rights.

They also said the law “mocks the nation’s Filipino culture – noble and lofty in its values and holdings on life, motherhood and family life – now the fragile lifeblood of a treasured culture that today stands solitary but proud in contrast to other nations.”

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

Despite strong opposition from leaders of the local Catholic Church, which only espouses natural family planning methods, Congress passed the law last Dec. 19 and President Aquino signed it two days after.

The law takes effect 15 days after its publication in two major dailies.

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