Byline: Dr. Jaime T. Galvez tan
The Philippines is one of the few remaining countries in the world with a runaway annual population growth rate of 2.36 percent. Since 1996, the national contraceptive prevalence rate has been on a plateau hovering between 47 and 49 percent. More than two million Filipino babies will be born this year. That means four every minute, 240 per hour, 5,760 per day.
The total unmet need for family planning in 2002 was 20.5 percent with 10.6 percent for birth spacing and 9.9 percent for limiting births. These figures are enough to agitate our outstanding Filipino scientists to unite and come out with one voice expressing their concern on family planning and the population issue.
I would like to share with you the resolution of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) on the Philippine Population Policy which was passed last July 10, during their 25th Annual Scientific Meeting at the Manila Hotel. The NAST is the countrys highest advisory body on science and technology matters.
The members of the NAST, together with the leading experts and concerned groups:
l Recognize the strong empirical evidence that continuing rapid population growth in the Philippines has been a major impediment to economic growth, poverty reduction and improvement in living standards;
l Express concern that the negative consequences of these conditions are not being managed properly and reversed;
l Manifest dissatisfaction over the fact that Philippine socio-economic development has lagged behind its neighboring states that have shown political will and serious adherence to an effective population policy;
l Convince, after critical analysis that the roadblocks to an effective national population policy are: (a) the persistent and consistent opposition of the Philippine Catholic Church hierarchy to the promotion of artificial family planning methods; (b) the lack of political will of the national leadership to manage population growth; (c) gender inequality at the household level in child-bearing decisions; (d) lack of access to information, education, communication and quality reproductive health services; and (e) limited availability of modern and effective family planning methods, especially among marginal groups. …