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IMBONG v.

OCHOA
G.R. No. 204819
April 8, 2014

FACTS:
1. After the enactment of R.A. No. 10354, also known as the RH Law, on December 1,
2012, the Court faces fourteen petitions and two petitions-in-intervention assailing the
law’s constitutionality:
a. Petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by Attys. James and Lovely Ann
Imbong
b. Petition for prohibition filed by the Alliance for the Family Foundation
Philippines, Inc. (ALFI)
c. Petition for certiorari filed by the Task Force for Family and Life Visayas,
Inc. and Valeriano Avila
d. Petition for certiorari and prohibition, filed by Serve Life Cagayan De Oro
City, Rosevale Foundation
e. Petition filed by Expedito Bulgarin, Jr.
f. Petition for certiorari and prohibition, filed by the Philippine Alliance of
Xseminarians Inc., etc.
g. Petition filed by Dr. Reynaldo Echavez
h. Petition for certiorari and prohibition, filed by Francisco and Maria Tatad,
Atty. Alan Paguia
i. Petition for certiorari and prohibition, filed by Pro-Life Philippines
Foundation, etc.
j. Petition for certiorari and prohibition, filed by Millennium Saint Foundation,
Inc., Attys. Ramon Pedrosa, Cita Borromeo-Garcia, Stella Acedera, and
Berteni Causing
k. Petition for certiorari and prohibition, filed by John Juat
l. Petition for certiorari and prohibition, filed by Couples for Christ Foundation
m. Petition for prohibition, filed by Almarim Tillah and Abdulhussein Kashim
n. Petition-in-intervention, filed by Atty. Samson Alcantara
o. Petition-in-intervention, filed by Buhay Hayaang Humabong (BUHAY)
2. Various parties, including the OSG, also filed comments-in-intervention defending
the RH Law’s constitutionality
3. On March 15, 2013, the RH-IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations) took effect
4. On March 19, the Court issued a Status Quo Ante Order (SQAO) delaying the said
law’s implementation
5. On July 16, the SQAO was extended
6. Note: Prior to the RH Law, the following legislation concerned reproductive health
and contraception: a) R.A. No. 4729; b) R.A. No. 5921; c) R.A. No. 6365; d) P.D.
No. 79; e) R.A. No. 9710 (Magna Carta of Women)

ISSUES:
1. Whether the Court may exercise its power of judicial review over the case on the
following grounds:
a. Power of judicial review
b. Actual case/controversy
c. Facial challenge
d. Locus standi
e. Declaratory relief
f. One subject/one title rule
2. Whether the RH Law is unconstitutional on account of the following:
a. Right to life
b. Right to health
c. Freedom of religion and right to free speech
d. Right to privacy
e. Academic freedom
f. Due process
g. Equal protection
h. Involuntary servitude
i. Delegation of authority to FDA
j. Autonomy of local governments and ARMM
k. Natural law

HELD:
1. Procedural Issues
a. YES.
The OSG holds that the Court’s authority to review the RH Law is “weak”,
and that the petitioners’ prayers are inappropriate. However, the Court
contends that the RH Law’s contravention of the Constitution justifies a
review. Moreover, certiorari and prohibition are proper remedies for
constitutional issues.

b. YES.
For a controversy to be justiciable, it must be definite and concrete, and the
petitioner must prove the existence of immediate or threatened injury to
himself. In the instant case, the RH Law and RH-IRR have already taken
effect, and the petitioners point out that medical practitioners are in danger of
prosecution under it.

c. YES.
The OSG contends that a facial challenge only applies in free speech cases.
However, in US constitutional law, a facial challenge, also known as a First
Amendment challenge, covers statutes concerning religious freedom.
Furthermore, the petitioners allege that the RH Law violates fundamental
rights, such as life, speech, and religion.

d. YES.
Since the RH Law drastically affects constitutional provisions on rights such
as life and freedom of religion, the petitioners can invoke transcendental
importance regarding their locus standi.
e. NO.
The Court finds that most of the petitions pray for injunctive reliefs.

f. YES.
The petitioners assert that the RH Law violates Sec. 26(1), Article VI of the
Constitution since it is a population control measure in disguise. However, the
Court finds that “reproductive health” and “responsible parenthood”, being
interrelated and germane to population control, fall under the said rule.

2. Substantive Issues
a. YES.
The framers of the 1987 Constitution made it clear that conception refers to
the moment of fertilization, not implantation. Thus, despite the RH Law’s
apparent ban on abortifacients, the qualifier “primarily” in Sec. 3.01 (a) and
(G) of the RH-IRR should be declared void as it may allow contraceptives
with abortifacient fail-safe mechanisms.

b. NO.
The sale and distribution of contraceptive drugs and devices, as safeguarded
by R.A. Nos. 5921 and 4729, are continued by Sec. 10 of the RH Law. In
addition, petitioners’ concerns over the health effects of such drugs are
premature as no contraceptive has been submitted to the FDA.

c. YES.
Secs. 7, 23, and 24 of the RH Law violate religious freedom as their force
conscientous objectors to refer patients seeking health care against the
former’s beliefs. Furthermore, the exemptions outlined in Sec. 5.24 of the RH-
IRR violate equal protection with regards to public health officers’ religious
beliefs.

d. YES.
Sec. 23(a) (2) (i) of the RH Law states that in case of spousal disagreement
regarding reproductive health procedures, the decision of the one undergoing
them shall prevail. In addition, Sec. 7 provides that, if a minor is already a
parent or has had a miscarriage, she is allowed access to family planning
methods without parental consent. These two sections clearly violate marital
privacy and parental consent, which are protected by Article XV of the
Constitution.

e. NO.
Petitioners’ concern that Sec. 14 of the RH Law violates academic freedom is
premature, as the DECS has yet to formulate a reproductive health education
curriculum. In addition, Sec. 14 and Sec. 4(t), along with Rule 10, Sec. 11.01
of the RH-IRR, supplement the mandate of Sec. 12, Art. II of the Constitution.

f. NO.
Petitioners contend that the RH Law is vague due to its failure to define
“private health care service provider” and “incorrect information”, as well as
being unclear on the exemptions in Sec. 7. However, such terms are clearly
defined, and the law makes it clear that regarding Sec. 7, religious hospitals
have the right to be exempt.

g. NO.
According to the petitioners, the RH Law violates equal protection because it
discriminates against the poor and exempts private educational institutions.
However, Sec. 7 actually prioritizes poor families with fertility issues,
pursuant to Sec. 11, Art. XIII of the Constitution. The latter argument is
grounded on the academic freedom enjoyed by such institutions.

h. NO.
The RH Law does not force private health care service providers to provide
services, but only encourages them. In addition, they shall have the discretion
as to the manner and time of rendering such services.

i. NO.
The Court finds nothing wrong with Congress’s delegation of authority to the
FDA, as it is clear that the former intended for the public to be given safe,
legal, and non-abortifacient medicines.

j. NO.
Petitioners claim that the RH Law infringes upon the powers of LGUs under
Sec. 17 of the Local Government Code. However, the said section exempts
nationally-funded projects, including the RH Law. Regarding the ARMM,
R.A. No. 9054 does not abdicate legislation for general welfare.

k. NO.
The Court does not recognize natural law as a legal basis, unless it has been
transformed into a written law.

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