President Duterte had once again called out the European Union, saying that the region should not impose its western standards in the Philippines. The region had been vocal about their opposition, and criticism of Duterte’s violent anti-drug campaign led to the vote in favor of Senator Leila De Lima’s release.
The President criticized the EU for portraying him as a tyrant and the main perpetrator of extrajudicial killings in relation to his anti-drug campaign. On the other hand, De Lima was illustrated as a martyr and a hero.
Despite the bitter ground between the Philippines and the EU, the latter had championed in the campaign for gender equality and gender empowerment programs, also called for the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RH) Act of 2012. As of the moment, the Supreme Court had issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the bill, leaving the government’s campaign on family planning and population unresolved.
EU Ambassador Franz Jessen had welcomed Duterte’s commitment to fully implement the law. He also pointed out that the TRO is what is keeping the government from procuring and distributing 70 percent of modern contraceptives by 2019. This would then result to major stock-outs of contraceptives in most government and rural health clinics.
Because of this, the Philippines had failed to meet its RH-related Millennium Development Goal and its Philippine Development Plan targets for the period of 2011-2016. The Philippines also ranks as one of the countries in the Southeast Asian Region with the highest teenage pregnancy rates.
The rates of teenage pregnancies rose from 6.3 percent in 2002 to 13.6 percent in 2013 which the EU cited as a worrisome case in the region.
In his message for the “Annual Dialogue on Sexual and Reproductive Health” in Quezon City, Jessen said that the EU remains fully committed in supporting the Philippine government and other social organizations in the campaign to promote reproductive health and champion in gender equality and women’s rights.