The principal author of the Reproductive Health Law has chided Senator Vicente Sotto III over the latter’s move to delete from the 2016 national budget the P1-billion allocation for family planning commodities aimed at providing artificial contraceptives to poor Filipino couples.
Former Albay congressman Edcel Lagman, the principal author of Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law or Republic Act 10354, said Sotto, after failing to block the passage of the RH Law, is now deliberately stalling the law’s implementation.
“During the bicameral conference on the 2016 General Appropriations Bill , Sotto caused the deletion of P1.0 billion from the P1.157 billion for the procurement of Modern and Natural Family Planning Supplies,” Lagman said in a statement.
Lagman made the remark after Health Secretary Janette Garin earlier disclosed that the bicameral conference committee on the national budget got rid of the P1- billion budget from P124-billion funding of her department to cover the free provision of condoms, IUDs and birth control pills, particularly for breastfeeding mothers, at health centers.
“The Congress, particularly the Senate, reneged on its obligation to adequately fund the speedy and full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law,” Lagman protested.
Lagman said that the remaining P157 million is inordinately inadequate for the purchase of family planning commodities, which amount may even be lower than the appropriations for such expenses when there was no RH Law yet.
“The P1.0 billion, which was meanly cut by Sotto, is a drop in the bucket in the P3-trillion 2016 national budget and it is a measly amount compared to government’s mega projects which have fewer number of beneficiaries,” Lagman said.
He said the original funding of P1.157 billion, which was deleted by Sotto, was recommended by President Benigno Aquino III in his National Expenditure Program and adopted in toto by the House of Representatives in its version of the 2016 GAB or the newly signed General Appropriations Act for this year.
The Supreme Court declared on April 8, 2014 the RH Law constitutional on the whole after the bill was approved by Congress on Dec. 19, 2012 and signed into law by President Aquino on Dec. 21, 2012.
Due to the lack of funding in the 2016 GAA, Lagman said that the government’s purchases of family planning commodities must be sourced by the DoH from its share in the incremental revenues from sin taxes or from the President’s Contingent Fund, in addition to the donations from foreign agencies.
Garin said the budget cut was a surprise as the three-year-old Reproductive Health Law gives beneficiaries determined by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction universal access to medically safe, non-abortifacient and effective quality reproductive health care services, methods and supplies.
Without proper funding, Garin said the health agency would continue to face the challenge of providing for 6.7 percent of the country’s population with “unmet” family planning services, or roughly seven million Filipino women.