President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he will be instituting a stronger family planning policy in order to reduce poverty and uplift the country's economic growth.
In his speech before members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) prior to the command's Christmas boodle fight, the President said that he does not want a quarrel with the church but a smaller family is needed to cope up with present realities.
"Every time I go to other countries like Indonesia and Singapore, and you can see the progress of the country, I get misty-eyed when I think of my country. Why is it that up to now, we are still like an airplane ready for takeoff but has no lift?" he said.
"We are not really taking off. I really do not know. Maybe it's sheer population, talagang marami lang. And, of course, I do not want a quarrel with the church, but I will be ordering a stronger measure this time for family planning," Duterte said.
The Philippines has an estimated population of almost 103 million with an annual growth rate of 1.54 percent.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), there are three babies born every minute throughout the country, or around 1.7 million additional Filipinos per year.
The PSA also reported that for 2015, the Philippines has a poverty incidence of 21.6 percent, with 8.1 percent living below the poverty line.
"Maawa ako sa tao, sobra-sobrang...hindi mo mapapa-aral. We really need to have to do some programming and just say to the people: two or three (children) that is enough," the President said.
Duterte has been pushing for an aggressive implementation of the country's family planning law to push his economic growth agenda even before he was sworn in as President of the Republic.
Congress passed the "Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012" despite strong opposition from the church.
Republic Act No. 10354 was signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III on December 21, 2012 but its full implementation was suspended by the Supreme Court.
In 2015, the High Court stopped the Department of Health's program for the distribution and sale of contraceptive implants that can prevent pregnancies for up to three years.
Under the same ruling, the SC also barred the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from "granting any and all pending application for reproductive products and supplies, including contraceptive drugs and devices."
The Commission on Population (PopCom) had warned that as result of the prohibition on the FDA almost 90 percent of contraceptive brands will no longer be available by 2018, unless the TRO is lifted.
This, according to PopCom, would render the RH Law ineffective.
Meanwhile, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said that full implementation of the RH Law would help accelerate the government's program for poverty reduction in the country.
Last October, NEDA Director General Ernesto M. Pernia said that in order to achieve a 17-percent poverty incidence by the end of the term of President Duterte, "it will have to be a combination of strong economic growth, lots of jobs, complemented by the full implementation of the RH law so that the poor are able to limit and/or space their child bearing."
"Limiting the number of children to three per family is the desire of many Filipino couples. This also helps keep them from poverty," Pernia said.
Source: Philippines News Agency