Come 2020, condoms may be the only contraceptives on sale in PH

In other words, you'll have no choice.
ILLUSTRATOR Jasrelle Serrano

By 2020, those who want to use contraceptives would have no other option but to use condoms. So, if you're not into rubbers, you better get used to them.

How did this happen?

It may be recalled that in 2015, the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines filed a complaint to the Supreme Court (SC) alleging that certain contraceptive implants allowed under the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law (RA 10354) or RH Law have "abortifacient side effects."

To address the group's complaint, the SC issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) preventing the government from procuring, selling, distributing, dispensing, administering, advertising, and promoting implants. The SC ruling also stopped the Food and Drug Administration from granting pending applications for reproductive products, including contraceptives.

In 2016—despite the clamor of RH advocates—the TRO was still being enforced, further delaying the implementation of programs that would have prevented unplanned or unwanted pregnancies. Consequently, the SC came up with a ruling ordering the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) "to recertify that the contraceptive products would not lead to abortion."

Commission on Population (PopCom) executive director Juan Perez III noted that since June 2015, the licenses issued by FDA for the contraceptives were expiring one after the other. He pointed out that the time it takes for recertification is another challenge. By his estimate, only four of the 48 contraceptive products currently available would remain in the market before the end of 2018.

In a report by The Philippine Star, Department of Health (DOH) undersecretary Dr. Gerard Bayugo explained, "Condoms are not included in those not being given CPRs because they are apparently considered as equipment or devices and not drug products."

Even so, Bayugo said that the DOH "is already having difficulty in purchasing contraceptives, which will be given for free to couples who want to plan the number of their children."

He explained, "We cannot compel couples to use condoms since it will be the only ones available. It is not our principle. It is against what we promised. We wanted to give them choices. It is their decision, not ours."

In any case, Bayugo assured everyone that the DOH is "willing to provide more condoms to the public if there would be a huge demand from couples."

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