By Analou De Vera
The Commission on Population (POPCOM) has projected that the country’s population will reach 109 million by the end of this year.
During a forum on Family Planning and Responsible Parenthood, POPCOM-National Capital Region Director Lydio Espanol said that the country’s population increases by two million in just a year. He also added that three babies are born every minute in the Philippines.
Espanol said that most of those who are poor and less educated have more number of children. He said that there is always that unplanned, unintentional pregnancy.
“Based on surveys, the average number of children in urban areas or cities is two but the actual is three. In rural areas, the desired number is three but the actual is five. So there is always unplanned pregnancies,” disclosed Espanol.
“There are several studies available that show that the more number of children in the family, the poorer that family will be,” he furthered.
Espanol said that the Philippines, in terms of population, was in “equal footing” with Thailand and South Korea in 1969 with the population registering around 31 to 35 million. Forty-nine years later, the country has an average annual increase of two million, while Thailand and South Korea increased by only 200,000.
“Forty-nine years ago, we had almost the same in terms of the number of people in the country around more than 30 million. But then, after 49 years–ours has tripled, the other neighboring countries like Korea and Thailand they only had double or less than double,” he said.
“Actually we do not have a strong family planning program after the Marcos administration. It was the time that we had a very strong family planning program but after that humina [it became weak],” he added.
Espanol said that the current contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) in the country is at 40 percent. He said that the government is aimed at increasing the modern contraceptive use to 65 percent by 2022.
“To reach 65 percent of modern contraceptive prevalence rate, that means there will be 11 million women who are using modern and effective family planning methods in the Philippines,” he said.
“There has to be investments in education and health, etcetera, for us to experience what we call demographic dividend… Family planning is not only a health intervention but likewise a socio-economic intervention particularly on poverty reduction,” he added.
Espanol said that those in rural areas are now accepting the family planning program.
“Right now, more of our acceptors are coming from the rural areas. It means that in the past they were less likely to accept family planning compared to those in the urban area,” he said.
“I think this has something to do with the 4Ps program. The 4Ps program is the priority target of the family planning program and mostly they are in the rural areas. And so with the classes that they attended–because that is required– and now they are accepting the use of modern family planning,” he added.
Espanol added that they are also working with the Roman Catholic Church on natural family planning methods.
“They are happy working with us, many of the dioceses are working with POPCOM on natural family planning. We have at the national level a technical working group just for the natural family planning,” he said.