Filipino Voters & Family Planning

Manila Bulletin, March 25, 2004 | Go to article overview

Filipino Voters & Family Planning


THE fact that the Philippines is 85 percent Catholic has served to muzzle politicians, including presidents, about any consistent efforts at family planning (except for the Marcos Martial Law years, when an effective family planning program was in place and the population growth rate was brought down from 3.1 percent to 2.4 percent). Todays rate is 2.36 percent, which is the highest in Asia, and means 1.7 million more Filipinos each year. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that a survey has been released by Pulse Asia, with enough time left to influence the elections in May, which effectively destroys this myth, and allows presidential aspirants to come out for family planning programs without fear of losing votes.

The Pulse Asia survey shows that 82 percent of Filipinos would support presidential candidates who favor free choice by couples for family planning methods. The same number, 82 percent, say they would support candidates favoring a law on family planning and would also support candidates who intend to create a budget to achieve this.

What the survey reveals is that most Filipino voters do not want the church, despite their personal piety, to intervene in political decisions. Sixty-four percent said the church has no business rejecting or endorsing candidates because of their position on family planning. In short, that is not the churchs business. The GMA administration, while endorsing the spacing of children for maternal health, has failed to endorse any means of birth control other than the inefficient rhythm method espoused by the church. The biggest blow to official family planning and maternal health care occurred during the Aquino administration (which acted on the premise that anything the Marcos administration had done must be wrong) and threw out the whole program, closed the clinics, and denied poor women access to contraceptives, which resulted in an increase in illegal abortions and maternal deaths as well as an increased population growth rate.

But the tide has turned, according to the results of this survey. …

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