MANILA — National unity was on the mind of President Aquino when he quietly signed Republic Act No. 10354, or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, four days before Christmas.
With a stroke of a pen on Dec. 21, Mr. Aquino put finis to 13 years of bitter debates—in and out of Congress—over the wisdom of institutionalizing sex education and making contraceptives and modern family planning methods accessible to the populace, especially the poor.
signed in office
“He signed it in his office (at Malacañang),” said Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, explaining that the low-key signing of the controversial measure was proof positive of the administration’s ardent desire to move on from this highly divisive chapter of his presidency.
On Saturday, a day after the media learned that the law had been signed, Malacañang, in effect, called for unity, urging critics of the measure led by influential leaders of the Catholic Church to move on.
RA 10354, which was published online in the Official Gazette on Sunday, will take effect 15 days after its publication in at least two newspapers of general circulation.
Reading from a prepared statement, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte officially confirmed the signing of the measure during an interview with state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
The passage into law of the Responsible Parenthood Act closes a highly divisive chapter of our history—a chapter borne of the convictions of those who argued for, or against this Act, whether in the legislative branch or in civil society,” said Valte.
Valte enunciated the desire of the President and his Cabinet to end the highly acrimonious congressional and media tug of war that pitted the Aquino presidency against so many highly influential leaders of the Catholic Church.
She said that “at the same time, it (the law) opens the possibility of cooperation and reconciliation among different sectors in society: engagement and dialogue characterized not by animosity, but by our collective desire to better the welfare of the Filipino people.”/ Inquirer