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Pimentel replies to Robredo April 12, 2011

Posted by Maddog in Politics and Law, Religion and Social Issues, RH/Abortion Bills.
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A few weeks ago, DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo overstepped his authority as he tried to nip in the bud a growing popular movement among local government units (LGUs) against the RH/abortion bill. He declared that barangays have no power to enact ordinances that restrict the sale and disribution of contraceptives (Robredo warns LGUs against making anti-RH law – Inquirer.net).

Barangay Ayala Alabang in Muntinglupa, followed by seven barangays in Balanga City, Bataan, have already passed such pro-life ordinances. More LGUs intend to follow suit.

Robredo’s blunder was pointed out by none other than former Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr., the father of the Local Government Code that limits the powers of Robredo’s office. Pimentel’s response is reproduced below.

After reading Pimentel’s brilliant riposte, one has to ask: Does Rebredo even understand the Local Government Code?!!! As DILG Secretary he should!

Nene Pimentel replies to Secretary Robredo

1. Sorry to say, the Secretary talks out of turn when he warns LGUs especially the barangay not to enact ordinances that “prohibit the promotion, sale, distribution and purchase of contraceptives such as condoms and pills.”(a) The powers of the DILG which he heads have been emasculated by the adoption of the Local Government Code.

As secretary, he can no longer order LGUs around especially the barangay.

The LG Code provides for a seriated power structure that empowers a higher local government unit to supervise the next lower government unit.

To be a little more direct, the DILG has no power to sanction or even threaten any barangay for passing any measure to ban abortive drugs, chemicals or devices that may cause injury to the unborn or impair the health of his or her mother.

And to be even more direct, what will the Secretary do to punish the barangay officials who do not follow his unlawful “directives”?

(i) Suspend them?

That he cannot do. The barangays are not under his supervision or much less under his control.

(ii) Punish them for insubordination?

Neither can he do that. We are no longer living in the Roman Empire where Tribunes had certain powers to stop legislation and punish certain recalcitrant lower government officials.

(iii) Withhold their Internal Revenue Share?

That is certainly outside his power to do so.

(iv) Make it difficult for them to perform their functions?

By pulling strings with other government agencies which are following the anti-life agenda, he may succeed in making the barangay officials feel ostracized by the central government.

But that if implemented in the concrete that would be illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.

2. Why illegal?

Because it would be an act that is outside of the powers of the DILG to perform.

3. Why unlawful?

Because it would be an act that is in violation of the devolution of powers mandated by the Local Government Code?

4. Why unconstitutional?

Because it would be an act that in effect bars the barangay and other local government officials from implementing in the concrete what the Constitution mandates in principle: “Protect the Life of the Unborn from conception” as well as the health of the Mother.

The recent outburst of the DILG Secretary follows on the heels of his illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional order for the barangays to conduct their barangay assemblies last December 11.That is a function that the Secretary usurped from the powers granted to the barangays under the LG Code.

5. It is not correct to insinuate that the Barangay Ayala Alabang Ordinance No. 1 that seeks to uphold the life of the unborn from conception and protect the mother from harm grabs the power of the FDA from its primary function to ensure the sale, distribution and delivery of drugs, chemicals, devices or medicines to the public.

A reading of the Ordinance in fact cites the FDA in its adoption of a provision of Republic 5921 that requires a duly licensed physician to prescribe the use of what might be drugs, chemicals, devices or contraceptives that cause or lead to abortion or acts that harm or injure the health of the mother.

(Section 37. Provisions relative to dispensing of abolifecients or anti-conceptional substances and devices. No drug or chemical product or device capable of provoking abortion or preventing conception as classified by the Food and Drug Administration shall be delivered or sold to any person without a proper prescription by a duly licensed physician.)

If the Ordinance appears to have taken its concern for the protection of the unborn from conception and the shielding of the mother from harm a step ahead of the FDA, its ban on abortives or contraceptives that may cause harm or injury to the unborn and the mother is not arbitrary but is based upon available medical and scientific studies such as those complied by the MIMs, a duly recognized “hallmark” of information on drugs, chemicals, devices and medicines for the guidance of doctors in this country and, indeed, even by pharmaceutical companies in many parts of the world as authoritative.

6. The statement attributed to the Secretary that the FDA may permit the sale of drugs, chemicals, devices or medicines even without the prescription of a duly licensed physician runs counter to a provision of a law that is still extant in our statute books and that is Republic Act 5921.

(Section 25. Sale of medicine, pharmaceuticals, drugs and devices. No medicine, pharmaceutical, or drug of whatever nature and kind or device shall be compounded, dispensed, sold or resold, or otherwise be made available to the consuming public except through a prescription drugstore or hospital pharmacy, duly established in accordance with the provisions of this Act.)

(Section 37. Provisions relative to dispensing of abolifecients or anti-conceptional substances and devices. No drug or chemical product or device capable of provoking abortion or preventing conception as classified by the Food and Drug Administration shall be delivered or sold to any person without a proper prescription by a duly licensed physician.)

That is the reason why some legislators are desperately trying to repeal the law.

7. As to the Secretary’s intimation that the Pharmacy Law (Republic Act 5921) intends to guide pharmacists alone, that is not so.

Section 37. Provisions relative to dispensing of abolifecients or anti-conceptional substances and devices. No drug or chemical product or device capable of provoking abortion or preventing conception as classified by the Food and Drug Administration shall be delivered or sold to any person without a proper prescription by a duly licensed physician.

This provision sanctions “any person” who delivers or sells to any person a drug or chemical or device capable of provoking abortion or preventing conception as classified by the FDA without a proper prescription by a duly licensed medical doctor.

8. It is illusory for the Secretary to assert that for barangays to enact ordinances that cause a more realistic regulation of the use, sale or distribution or abortive drugs, chemicals, devices or medicines to be valid, the barangays need a delegation of power from the Pharmacy Law.

Nothing can be a more bizarre rationalization of the “warnings” issued by the Secretary.Barangays do not need a delegation of power from the Pharmacy Law to do their duty to ensure the implementation of the Constitutional mandate to uphold the life of the unborn from conception and protest the health of the mother.

They only need to follow what the Local Government Code mandates them to do such as for example to advance the general welfare of their constituents and prevent them from harm or injury from the use of toxic, harmful and noxious substances as defined by the FDA, scientific experts and medical studies as mentioned above.

Moreover, the FDA is not yet in position to implement fully its mandate.

The Secretary of Health only a week ago announced the adoption of the Implementing Rules and Regulations to govern the new FDA law.And it has yet to upgrade its equipment and the training of its personnel to cope with the massive influx of all sorts of drugs, chemicals, devices and medicines that have the potential to kill the fetus in the womb of the mother and in the process injure the health of the latter.

9. What does the Secretary want the people in the barangay to do? Wait for eternity to deliver their constituents from harm?Barangay officials just like the rest of our officialdom have duties to perform while they are in office.And what higher duty is there than to uphold the life of the unborn from conception and in the process protect the life of the mother, too.

10. Finally, it must be remembered that “life” is the highest among the values that the Constitution upholds and protects.

That is why even in the sequencing of those values in the Constitution, life goes ahead of liberty and property.Indeed, without life, who can have liberty or property.

Even Patrick Henry could not have delivered his famous “Give me liberty or give me death speech” if he did not have life in the first place.

Note: This piece also appeared on the website of the Gold Star Daily, a Mindanao newspaper (Robredco Talks Out of Turn), and Balita (Local Government Code author disputes DILG chief’s contraceptives call).

Robredo warns LGUs vs enacting anti-contraceptive rules

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