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TitleImbong vs Ochoa Case Digest
TagsCase Or Controversy Clause Standing (Law) Public Sphere Government Information Crime & Justice
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Total Pages14
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Page 1

IMBONG VS. OCHOA

KEY TAKE-AWAY: The Reproductive Health Law is a consolidation and enhancement of
existing reproductive laws. It seeks to enhance the population control program of the government
in order to promote public welfare. However, when coercive measures are found within the law,
provisions must be removed or altered in order to ensure that it does not defy the Constitution by
infringing on the rights of the people.

PONENTE: MENDOZA, J.

CONSOLIDATION OF 14 CASES NAMELY:
DATE/GR
NO/SCRA

PETITIONER RESPONDENT

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

James M. Imbong Lovely-Ann C.
Imbong, for themselves and in behalf
of their minor children, Lu Cia Carlos

Imbong and Bernadette Carlos
Imbong and Magnificat Child
Development Center, Inc., a
domestic, privately-owned

educational institution

Hon. Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., Executive
Secretary; Hon. Florencio B. Abad,

Secretary, Department Of Budget And
Management; Hon. Enrique T. Ona,

Secretary, Department Of Health; Hon.
Armin A. Luistro, Secretary, Department
Of Education, Culture And Sports; and

Hon. Manuela. Roxas II, Secretary,
Department Of Interior and Local

Government
GR. No.
204934

ALLIANCE FOR THE FAMILY
FOUNDATION PHILIPPINES, INC.
[ALFI], represented by its President,
Maria Concepcion S. Noche, Spouses

Reynaldo S. Luistro & Rosie B.
Luistro, Jose S. Sandejas & Elenita
S.A. Sandejas, Arturo M. Gorrez &

Marietta C. Gorrez, Salvador S.
Mante, Jr. & Hazeleen L. Mante,

Rolando M. Bautista & Maria Felisa
S. Bautista, Desiderio Racho &

Traquilina Racho, F emand Antonio
A. Tansingco & Carol Anne C.

Tansingco for themselves and on
behalf of their minor children,

Therese Antonette C. Tansingco,
Lorenzo Jose C. Tansingco, Miguel

HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.,
Executive Secretary, HON. ENRIQUE T.

ONA,
Secretary, Department of Health, HON.

ARMIN A. LUISTRO, Secretary,
Department of Education, Culture and
Sports, HON. CORAZON SOLIMAN,

Secretary, Department of Social Welfare
and Development, HON. MANUELA.
ROXAS II, Secretary, Department of
Interior and Local Government, HON.
FLORENCIO B. ABAD, Secretary,

Department of Budget and Management,
HON. ARSENIO M. BALISACAN,

Socio-Economic Planning Secretary and
NEDA Director-General, THE

PHILIPPINE COMMISSION ON

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" Freedom of Expression and Academic Freedom
" Due Process
" Equal Protection
" Involuntary Servitude
" Autonomy of Local Governments/ARMM
" Natural Law

o Whether or not Congress’ delegation of authority to the FDA in determining
which should be included in the EDL is valid

• HELD
! Procedural

o Whether or not the court may exercise its power of judicial review - YES
" While the Court may not pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or

expediency of the RH Law, it may do so where an attendant
unconstitutionality or grave abuse of discretion results. The following
requisites for judicial review were met: (a) there mustbe an actual case or
controversy; (b) the petitioners must possess locus standi; ( c) the question of
constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity; and ( d) the issue of
constitutionality must be the lis mota of the case

o Whether or not there is an actual case or controversy – YES
" Considering that the RH Law and its implementing rules have already taken

effect and that budgetary measures to carry out the law have already been
passed, it is evident that the subject petitions present a justiciable controversy.
As stated earlier, when an action of the legislative branch is seriously alleged
to have infringed the Constitution, it not only becomes a right, but also a duty
of the Judiciary to settle the dispute.

" Moreover, the petitioners have shown that the case is so because medical
practitioners or medical providers are in danger of being criminally prosecuted
under the RH Law for vague violations thereof, particularly public health
officers who are threatened to be dismissed from the service with
forfeiture of retirement and other benefits.

o Whether the Court may apply facial challenge – YES
" The scope of application of facial challenges extends to the regulation of free

speech, but also those involving religious freedom, and other fundamental
rights.

" Consequently, considering that the foregoing petitions have seriously alleged
that the constitutional human rights to life, speech and religion and other
fundamental rights mentioned above have been violated by the assailed
legislation, the Court has authority to take cognizance of these kindred
petitions and to determine if the RH Law can indeed pass constitutional
scrutiny.

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o Whether or not Locus Standi applies – YES
" Regardless of whether the petitioners are directly injured of affected by the

RH Law or not, the Court leans on the doctrine that "the rule on standing is a
matter of procedure, hence, can be relaxed for non-traditional plaintiffs like
ordinary citizens, taxpayers, and legislators when the public interest so
requires, such as when the matter is of transcendental importance, of
overreaching significance to society, or of paramount public interest." The
RH Law falls under transcendental importance as it drastically affects the
constitutional provisions on the right to life and health, the freedom of religion
and expression and other constitutional rights.

o Whether or not the petitions are praying for declaratory relief - YES
" Most of the petitions are praying for injunctive reliefs, not declaratory reliefs,

and so the Court would just consider them as petitions for prohibition under
Rule 65, over which it has original jurisdiction. Where the case has far-
reaching implications and prays for injunctive reliefs, the Court may consider
them as petitions for prohibition under Rule 65.

o Whether the petitions violate the One Subject/One Title Rule – NO
" In a textual analysis of the various provisions of the law, both "reproductive

health" and "responsible parenthood" are interrelated and germane to the
overriding objective to control the population growth. Thus, the Court finds
no reason to believe that Congress had the intention to deceive the public
regarding the contents of the said law.

! Substantive
o Whether or not the RH Law is unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates

" Right to Life – NO
# Constitution intended that 1.) conception to refer to the time of

fertilization and 2.) the protection of the unborn upon said fertilization
# Not all contraceptives are to be banned (only those that kill a fertilized

ovum)
# Contraceptives that prevent union of sperm and egg are thus permissible
# It is the intended by the framers of the 1987 Constitution to prevent the

enacting of a law that legalizes abortion.
$ RH law prohibits abortion
$ RH law recognizes that abortion is a crime
$ RH law prohibits abortifacients

" Right to Health - NO
# With the provisions of RA 4729 still in place, the status quo on the sale of

contraceptives is maintained and the Court believes that there are adequate
measures that ensure that the public has access to contraceptives that have
been determined safe following testing, evaluation, and approval by the
FDA

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Page 14

discretion: and consequent adjudication if the legislative and executive actions can be so
characterized.


II. Substantive Discussions

• While the RH Law generally protects and promotes the unborn’s right to life, its Section
9 and its IRR fail in their fidelity to the Constitution and to the very terms of the RH Law
itself. It fails to adopt the principle of double effect under Section 12, Article II of the
1987 Constitution.

• The Court should formulate guidelines on what the government can actually procure and
distribute under the RH law, consistent with its authority under this law and Section 12,
Article II to achieve the full protection the Constitution envisions.

• The attack on Section 14’s constitutionality is premature because that the lack of an
implementing curriculum by the Department of Education makes it premature to rule on
constitutionality. The court cannot determine yet how parental rights will be affected
since the specifics of what would be taught under the RH education program do not yet
exist.

• The RH Law’s implementation could have political and economic consequences. It could
also produce social consequences by ushering in behaviors and perceptions about sex,
marriage, and family that are vastly different (in a negative way) from the norm.

• Section 23(a) (l) of the RH Law is an unconstitutional subsequent punishment of speech.
It has overreached the permissible coverage of regulation on the speech of doctors and
other health professionals. The existing information dissemination program found in the
RH law is sufficient in providing information about available reproductive health services
and programs, and the existing regulatory framework for their practice already
sufficiently protects against such negligence and malpractice. Furthermore, the said
section can create a chilling effect for those in the profession.

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