Issue of July 9, 2017
Mt. Province

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PopCom not quitting call to lift implant contraceptives ban
by Jane B. Cadalig

The Commission on Population is not giving up to the call for the Supreme Court to lift the ban it issued against implant contraceptives, saying the prohibition contributes to the unmet need for family planning of more than 10,000 couples and women in the Cordillera.

PopCom Information Officer Job David Manalang said based on the agency’s profiling of couples and women in the region, there are 10,555 couples and women with unmet need for family planning.

Women and couples with unmet need for family planning are those who want to delay or stop childbearing but are not availing themselves of any family planning services. This also includes women or couples who are seeking better or more effective family planning methods but could not avail the same.

Manalang said the Supreme Court’s lifting of the temporary restraining order it issued against the distribution of the implant contraceptives will provide couples and women with better and more effective family planning options.

The SC has prohibited the Department of Health from distributing two brands of implant contraceptives, Implanon and Implanon NXT, which are among the modern family planning methods defined in the Reproductive Health Law.

Manalang said the implant contraceptives have better efficiency because they last for three to five years.

“This means that women who want to delay childbearing will not have to worry about getting pregnant because the implants’ effects are longer. Unlike traditional family planning methods like pills or injectables, women with the implant contraceptives need no reminders on when to take their contraceptives,” Manalang said.

He, however, said they continue to promote traditional family planning methods. The good thing about the implant contraceptives, he said, is they are more effective.

PopCom and the DOH have been rallying the public to support their call for the lifting of the TRO through a signature campaign.

Manalang said that for them, the implication of the TRO is that, the government cannot register new family planning methods, which will deprive thousands of couples and women who want to avail themselves of modern contraception.

“If the TRO is not lifted, we fear that modern family planning methods will not be allowed to enter the Philippine market,” he said.

He said the same will happen to the registration with the Food and Drugs Administration of existing contraceptives, like pills, which will expire in 2018.

“The registration of pills, which is the most availed of contraception, expires in 2018 and when the TRO stands, pills will no longer be allowed for sale and distribution in the Philippines because we cannot renew their registration,” Manalang said.

The High Tribunal issued the TRO on implant contraceptives in 2015 upon the petition of the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines, Inc., which claimed these are abortifacient.

The SC has said the FDA should be the one to conduct the research and tests and declare that the implant contraceptives are not abortifacient to convince the High Court to lift the TRO.

The High Court has also earlier clarified that the TRO only covers the distribution of the implant contraceptives, contrary to the interpretation of RH advocates that the ban covers all forms of family planning methods.

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