Text and photos by Patricia Calzo Vega
Approximately 100 supporters of reproductive health and women’s rights protested the controversial Ayala Alabang barangay ordinance #1 entitled, “An Ordinance Providing for the Safety and Rights of the Unborn Child,” on Saturday, March 19, minutes before the village’s announced public consultation on the aforementioned legislation.
Representatives of the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network, Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Democratic and Socialist Women of the Philippines, Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, Filipino Freethinkers, and other advocacy groups marched from Alabang Town Center to the Madrigal entrance of Ayala Alabang Village to stage an indignation rally denouncing the ordinance.
The ordinance redefines abortifacients to include IUDs, hormonal contraceptives, and other devices previously classified as contraceptives by the Food and Drug Authority (FDA), and prohibits barangay health workers from the purchase, prescription, and sale/distribution of such items. Private individuals are likewise prohibited from advertising or provide information about contraceptive use, and bans sex education without parental consent. It also poses heavy restrictions on their defined abortifacients and other anti-conception devices, requiring a prescription for each purchase, and for pharmacists to list specific details about the purchase in a separate register. Various penalties include a maximum PhP 5,000 fine or corresponding imprisonment, removal from office and prohibition from seeking office (if the offender is a barangay worker), and the revoking of business permit (for corporations, commercial establishments, and educational institutions).
The highlight of the demonstration was the symbolic “liberation” of a woman fettered by the Ayala Alabang barangay ordinance, led by former DOH secretaries Alberto “Quasi” Romualdez and Esperanza Cabral, who is also a resident of the village. Former Muntinlupa representative Ruffy Biazon also attended the protest. Biazon was tasked to serve as one of the representatives of the anti-ordinance panel for the public consultation.
Joining the women’s groups and RH advocates were concerned residents of Ayala Alabang, who voiced out their misgivings about the ordinance. “(We are) a multi-creed, multi-racial community. One of the barangay’s duties is to maintain a civil society, but this ordinance causes divisiveness and marginalizes a sector of our community that does not share certain beliefs. It’s a violation of the constitutional provision on the separation of Church and State. It also goes against the right to equal protection under the law, the right to privacy and self-incrimination, and even opens the floodgates to the right against illegal search and seizure,” says Atty. Minnie Reyes.
Reyes also pointed out that the jurisdiction of Barangay Ayala Alabang goes beyond the confines of its village, and includes surrounding business and commercial areas like the Madrigal Business Park and Alabang Town Center.
After the demonstration, the group of anti-ordinance village residents organized a carpool to ferry the protesters from the Madrigal gates to the De La Salle-Santiago Zobel campus, the venue for the public consultation, as Ayala Alabang security protocol prohibits pedestrians from entering the village.
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