Akbayan Rep. Gutierrez slams Atienza for questioning validity of RH law implementation

He said Rep. Atienza needs to move on.

Rep. Barry Gutierrez speaking in a press conference a day before the Supreme Court decides on the constitutionality of the Reproductive Health Law.

Rep. Barry Gutierrez speaking in a press conference a day before the Supreme Court decides on the constitutionality of the Reproductive Health Law.

Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez on Friday declared as “utterly baseless” the contentions of fellow solon, Rep. Lito Atienza, questioning the allegedly “illegal” implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) law ostensibly without Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

During the budget debates last Wednesday, September 25, Rep. Atienza took the floor to chastise Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona for supposedly implementing the RH law even if the agency is yet to come up with an “updated” IRR to reflect the recent decision of the Supreme Court (SC) on specific provisions of the law.

“Contrary to the opinion of Rep. Atienza, there is already a valid set of implementing rules for the RH law, and there is absolutely no legal obstacle to its full implementation,” Gutierrez said.

“The IRR, which was approved by a multistakeholder committee in March 2013, has a separability clause, which provides that any invalidation of some of its sections or clauses shall not affect the validity of the remainder. Thus the parts inconsistent with the SC decision will simply be deemed ineffective, while the rest will remain valid with full force and effect,” he explained.

The lawmaker said that the separability clause contained in Section 18.03, Chapter 6 of the RH Law IRR explicitly states that: “If any part of the provision of the Rules is held invalid or unconstitutional, the other provisions not affected thereby shall remain in full force and effect.”

“I realize that Rep. Atienza is not a lawyer, but understanding the implications of the separability provision does not require a law degree,” Gutierrez said.

“Even to an ordinary citizen, the interpretation of the provision is simple and clear as day–the rules are still effective, except those that were struck out by the court decision. Thus, there is certainly no need to craft another IRR,” he added.

Accept and move on

Gutierrez also criticized Atienza for raising a ‘non-issue’, saying this was a ploy to further delay the implementation of the law.

“The SC decision upholding the RH law and paving the way for its full implementation has already decided the matter with finality. It is obvious that Rep. Atienza is merely making a fuss over a non-issue in yet another attempt to delay its implementation. Congress has enacted the law, the Supreme Court has upheld its validity, and the Executive is all set to implement it, he should accept this and move on,” the lawmaker said.

“In our view, the implementation of the law is already long-overdue. To date, there are no longer any compelling arguments that would prevent the swift and implementation of the law,” Gutierrez concluded.###

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