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Philippines: Village Ordinance Requires Prescriptions for Condoms

This post is part of our special coverage Global Development 2011.

The debate generated by the Reproductive Health bill has taken on an interesting if not bizarre twists, the latest of which is a recent village ordinance that has taken things to a whole new level.

And this is not your average village or barangay in the Philippines, the controversial new ordinance came from the affluent Ayala Alabang Village – a gated community famous for being the place where politicians, past presidents, celebrities and the rich take up residence.

The controversial new condom ordinance came from the affluent Ayala Alabang Village. Image by Flickr user robertelyov (06/11/10).

The controversial new condom ordinance came from the affluent Ayala Alabang Village. Image by Flickr user robertelyov (06/11/10).

The village ordinance is ordinance entitled, “An Ordinance providing for the safety and protection of the unborn child within the Territorial jurisdiction of Barangay Ayala-Alabang; Fixing Penalties for its Violations, and for other purposes.” It was passed on 3 January 2011.

In summary, it imposes restrictions on the sale and distribution of contraceptives which it labels as abortifacients and requires residents to have prescriptions from doctors in order to purchase such devices and medicines inside the village.

The ordinance may have the support of those who oppose the Reproductive Health bill, but the residents of Ayala Alabang Village – its very own subjects – and a vocal segment of the public who support the RH Bill have come out with interesting reactions to the new ordinance.

Ayala Alabang Village resident and famous international singing star herself Lea Salonga has expressed her disgust with the village ordinance:

Upon reading the ordinance, I was instantly outraged. What right, constitutional or otherwise, does another human being, plus an entire barangay, have to what I practice in the privacy of my bedroom? No one has a say in how my husband and I express ourselves sexually, or what contraceptive measures we decide to employ, or not employ. I detest being told what to do, in general… even more so when it comes to something as personal and as privates as this.

The Vincenton Post dismisses the policy that is at the core of the assailed village ordinance:

The phrase “to equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child from conception” smacks of utter hypocrisy! There is no “unborn child” to be protected yet when we’re talking about the use of condoms. To protect a non-existing entity is to disregard the existence of those who exist. There is the actual, living, breathing human body to be protected FIRST against sexually transmitted diseases or even unwanted pregnancy.

Jam points out that practically speaking, the ordinance is easy to get around with:

Methinks that this ordinance is way pointless. It’s as if Brgy. Ayala Alabang is an isolated place. People can buy over-the-counter condoms everywhere.

A contributor on ThePhilippines.PH sees the Catholic Church's influence in the passage of this ordinance:

Their ordinance have really vestiges of Catholic Church influence which they of course research first to validate and legalized the ordinance which according to former health secretary Dr. Carmencita N. Reodrica that the bill the atty. Of Ayala Alabang village base their ordinance is already obsolete and no more applicable on a modern democratic-open minded world. But how come it was approved if it is already obsolete bill? There is something fishy on it; Catholic Church is very influential among the rich Christians in the Philippines.

Ms Imelda brings it all back to the debate about the RH Bill seeing how the Ayala Alabang Village council have jumped the gun on Congress:

This is all about the RH Bill, which, in my opinion should be passed right away. If they're saying the State has no right to promote the use of contraception, the State should have no right to discourage or ban it as well. The RH Bill only provides and informs people of their options, and making such options available to them, which is the State's responsibility.

Aside from all the heavy talk about rights, the Constitution and the role of the State, Kiks asks a few questions few would dare:

With its new, out-of-this-world ordinance requiring consumers to show a doctor's prescription before buying a condom or any contraceptive, is Barangay Ayala-Alabang now the new breeding ground for un-gloved love?

Is it going Greek?

The ordinance had become so controversial, Ayala Alabang became a trending topic on Twitter hours after the news broke out.

oliboycastro: No more carnappers and drug dealers in Ayala Alabang, only condom pushers.

Minna—♥: Next time I go to the Philippines, I start my own condom business in Brgy Ayala Alabang.

janvynator: Anyone who disagrees with the new ordinance in Ayala Alabang, raise your penis. Oh i meant hands. :))

SagadaSun: Ayala Alabang's Barangay Council is the laughing stock of the world not because they are stupid, but because they are SERIOUS. #rhbill

As of writing, the City Council of Muntinlupa has suspended the implementation of the ordinance with the Ayala Alabang village officials to face sanctions if they will insist on implementing it.

This post is part of our special coverage Global Development 2011.

Thumbnail used is from the Flickr page of Paul Keller used under CC license Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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