LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 31 (PNA) -- Former Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman and Health Secretary Janette L. Garin received the Excellence in Leadership for Family Planning (EXCELL) Award for the individual/team level in recognition of their vital contributions to the passage of the Reproductive Health Law in the Philippines.
The award was presented to Lagman and Garin during the closing ceremonies of the 4th International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) in Bali, Indonesia on Thursday.
The two were selected from almost 200 nominations that the ICFP organizers received from all over the world.
“This EXCELL award gives much impetus to the RH advocates in the Philippines to relentlessly continue the good fight, not to lower their guard and never to rest on their laurels,” Lagman said in a phone interview on Sunday.
According to Jose G. Rimon II, chair of the ICFP International Steering Committee, the EXCELL Awards recognize countries, organizations/facilities, and individuals/teams that "have made significant contributions to the family planning field, and whose leadership and work deserve to be highlighted and used to inspire meaningful dialogue within the community.”
Lagman and Garin were staunch and indefatigable RH champions during their terms in Congress, with Lagman defending the RH bill during long, tedious and often acrimonious plenary debates.
Lagman is also widely credited for shepherding the RH bill through the legislative mill until it finally became Republic Act No. 10354 or the “Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.”
It took the Congress 15 long years to pass the RH Law and have it declared constitutional by the Supreme Court.
A medical doctor, Garin is continuing her unwavering RH advocacy in the Department of Health.
“When we were fighting to pass the RH Law, I was called an abortionist. There were pictures of me burning in hell. I wish I could be seen (instead) as an angel for reproductive health,” Lagman quoted Garin as saying.
“While we have won in the legislature and the highest court, these are the same institutions – the Congress and the Supreme Court – which are being used by the opponents of the RH Law to derail its implementation,” Lagman said.
He explained that “the Congress, particularly two senators, engineered the slashing of Php1 billion from the budget for contraceptives, while the Supreme Court has issued a continuing, albeit temporary, injunction prohibiting the government from purchasing and distributing Implanon and Implanon NXT, which are among the two most popular contraceptive implants.”
“These adverse developments are lamentable because central to the implementation of the RH Law is the availability of family planning supplies, particularly to marginalized acceptors in the poorest quintile,” the former lawmaker said.
The substantial budget cut has severely impaired government’s capacity to provide family planning supplies to millions of acceptors, he said.
The 4th ICFP was co-hosted by the National Family Planning Coordinating Board of Indonesia and the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
It brought together about 3,000 researchers, program managers, policymakers and RH advocates from around the world to share their best research and practices and to use their knowledge to expand access to family planning services. (PNA) SCS/FGS/CBD/PJN