Senator Pia Cayetano expressed her disappointment over the hold order issued by the Supreme Court on parts of the reproductive health law hindering the registration and distribution of certain contraceptives.
Speaking before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Cayetano shared the government's reproductive health policies.
"This is a basic human right that the Philippines upholds, although it has been a long and difficult journey for this right to be put into law. As a sponsor of this law in the Senate, I can attest to the difficulty that we faced in passing this law. But we did. The next battle was in the Supreme Court, where the constitutionality of the law was questioned," she said.
"But we won this too. Under the current administration, one of the first executive orders issued by the president was on the full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law," Cayetano added.
Cayetano also talked about the hold order issued by the Supreme Court on the registration of contraceptives.
"But we are now facing another case in the Supreme Court, where the petitioners have asked the Supreme Court to grant a different set of standards to be imposed by the Food and Drug Administration on the process of registration of contraceptives, very different from other medicines. The effect of this is that 43 percent of our contraceptives registration will expire this year, and the rest next year. If the Supreme Court does not clarify this, we will have no contraceptives in the Philippines," she said.
"Can you imagine a country where women have no access to contraceptives?" Cayetano also said.
The SC hold order, issued in 2015, bars government agencies from approving new registrations for certain contraceptives, which would allow them to be distributed and sold in the market. It also stopped the distribution of hormonal contraceptives Implanon and Implanon NXT, considered akin to abortifacients by pro-life activists.
Earlier this year, the Commission on Population (POPCOM) stressed the need for the lifting of the TRO. They said it limits women’s contraceptive choices, and effectively allows the rise of unplanned pregnancies, including those of teenagers.
In March, President Rodrigo Duterte said that while he “hates” abortion, he supports artificial family-planning methods.
Cayetano is part of the Philippine delegation in Geneva, Switzerland who are tasked to highlight the Philippines' "significant achievements in upholding and protecting human rights".