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Duterte asks SC: Stop issuing TROs vs gov’t programs

MANILA, July 24 -- President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday called on the Supreme Court (SC) to look into the matter of the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) so as not to delay on government projects and programs.

TRO has become the bane of our (government) projects, Duterte said in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA).

"It's time we put an end to practice of some parties resorting in technicalities in our laws preventing the government from doing its mandate, the Chief Executive said.

I will not attribute anything, Maam, to the Supreme Court. Maybe I am at fault so, I am sorry, Duterte said as he looks to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was present in the SONA.

Dutere also cited the SC's TRO hindering the government's full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law as he pointed out that the measure is already a law that has to be implemented.

I am not for abortion, I am not for birth control, but certainly I am for giving of freedom to Filipino families to decide, he said adding that the subdermal implants purchased by the government will already expire next month.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court in a resolution issued last May, 2017 said that the government can proceed with the implementation of programs under the RH Law because the injunction order issued was not for the entire family planning supplies.

The Aug. 24, 2016 order simply enjoined the respondents from registering, re-certifying, procuring and administering only those contraceptive drugs and devices which were subjects of opposition, specifically Implanon and Implanon NXT.

It never meant to enjoin the processing of the entire gamut of family planning supplies that have been declared as unquestionably non-abortifacent, the high court said adding that the injunction was only subject to the condition that the respondents afford the petitioners a genuine opportunity to their right to due process, the high court said. Implanon and Implanon NXT are thin rods inserted under the skin, which release hormones that prevent

pregnancy for up to three years.

The high court, aside from sustaining the TRO also struck down the certifications and re-certifications issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on 77 contraceptive drugs and devices - including Implanon and Implanon NXT - for violation of constitutional requirement of due process.

The Court has found that the agency certified and administered 77 contraceptive drugs and devices "without the observance of the basic tenets of due process, without notice and without public hearing, despite the constant opposition of petitioners."

The ball is with the FDA when the high court remanded the case to process new certifications.

The SC specifically ordered the FDA "to observe the basic requirements of due process by conducting a hearing, and allowing the petitioners to be heard, on the re-certified, procured, and administered contraceptive drugs and devices, including Implanon and Implanon NXT; and to determine whether they are abortifacients or non-abortifacients."

In the same ruling, the high court also directed the FDA to formulate rules for screening, evaluation and approval of all contraceptive drugs and devices to be used under the RH law.

The high court pointed out that it still cannot resolve the matter or lift the injunction because the FDA has yet to resolve the matter.

Last August, the Chief Justice Sereno reported that courts are issuing too many restraining orders against infrastructure projects of government but the data appears to be only one from 2013 up to date, the Court of Appeals has issued only a single TRO against a government infrastructure project.

He said in 2015, out of the 2,039 petitions praying for a TRO on various subject matters, only 50 TROs (none involving any government infrastructure project) were issued by the CA, or about 2.45%; and (2) the Supreme Court since 2012, has only issued one TRO against a government infrastructure project.

She explained that in any event, since the 1990s, the Court has issued seven circulars to all its 2,400 lower courts reminding them of the prohibition in issuing TROs and WPIs against government infrastructure projects.

"We are still at the preliminary stage of getting TRO data from the lower courts. Our initial impression is that the TROs being issued by the lower courts are not against government infrastructure projects, she noted.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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