by Ferdinand E. Fabella
THE chairman of Ayala Alabang village admitted Tuesday that an ordinance banning sex education and the distribution of contraceptives in the posh subdivision could not be enforced without the approval of the Muntinlupa City Council.
“It’s not going to be enforced yet. It’s not even complete,” Ayala Alabang chairman Alfred Xerez-Burgos Jr. said of the Protection of the Unborn Child Ordinance of 2011, which has drawn criticism and ridicule from various sectors.
His statement came a day after the village council drew the ire of Muntinlupa Mayor Aldrin San Pedro, who threatened sanctions against the officers if they tried to enforce the ordinance.
In Congress, the long-awaited debates on the reproductive health bill were delayed when the air conditioning in the session hall broke down.
The postponement of the debates incensed the supporters of the reproductive health bill, who had trooped to the House to lobby Congress to pass the measure that seeks to establish a national policy on population management and family planning.
The Catholic Church has fiercely opposed the bill because it allows the use of contraceptives as a method of family planning.
In Ayala Alabang, Xerez-Burgos said he and the village councilors were surprised by the violent reactions from women’s rights groups, reproductive health bill advocates, lawmakers, City Hall, and various social networking sites.
He blamed Luis Sison, spokesman of the Ayala Alabang Village Association, the group of homeowners at the exclusive subdivision, for it.
“Attorney Sison is not representing the [village]. What he’s been saying were his legal opinions,” Burgos said.
He said Sison, former president of Philippine National Construction Corp., was an avid proponent of the contraceptive ban and claimed that the ordinance took effect because the city council did not veto it.
Burgos said a group of villagers proposed the measure during a regular council meeting, and that the council deliberated on it and passed the ordinance through a lawful process.
“The ordinance is legal and defensible. We had public hearings. But we know we cannot implement it without the approval of the city council,” he said.
They would be meeting with City Hall officials to explain their action, he said.
San Pedro had warned Xerez-Burgos and the village councilors that they faced administrative charges if they continued acting like “a separate republic.”
The village ordinance explicitly prohibits sex education and the use and promotion of birth control devices within the village. Only those with a prescription may buy contraceptives such as pills and condoms from the village pharmacies.
Violators face a fine of P1,000 to P5,000 for the first offense, P5,000 and one to six months’ imprisonment for the second offense, and six months to one year in jail for the third and succeeding offenses.
If the violator is a village employee, he or she will be dismissed and barred from holding any public office.
Ayala Alabang, The third largest village in Muntinlupa, covers the 700-hectare Ayala Alabang Village, the Ayala Commercial Center, and the Alabang Country Club.
The village has a population of about 40,000.
In Congress, House leaders sought to allay fears that there was a deliberate effort to delay the deliberations on the reproductive health bill.
“We are doing everything to fix the problem on the air conditioning,” said An Waray Rep. Florencio Bem Noel, chairman of the House committee on accounts.
“Let us not rush into believing that this had anything to do with the RH bill because we all know that even the Speaker, the Majority Leader, the Minority Leader and other House leaders want the RH bill debated and voted on the floor.” With Christine F. Herrera