March 06, 2019

MANILA – The National Economic and Development Authority said that the government will carry out the full and intensified implementation of the National Program on Population and Family Planning (NPPFP), which was approved by President Rodrigo R. Duterte last March 04, during the 35th Cabinet Meeting.

The NPPFP, a major component of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law, aims to reduce unplanned and unwanted pregnancies by enabling couples and individuals to attain their desired number of children within the context of responsible parenthood.

“Population growth in the country is slowing, but Filipinos continue to significantly increase in number—around two million every year. Family planning, or FP, plays a crucial role in reducing poverty as it enables couples to plan and invest in their children better. NEDA will make sure that the country’s population growth is well managed and that programs are aligned with development plans,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.

The implementation of the NPPFP aims to increase modern contraceptive prevalence rate (mCPR) to 65 percent, and lower fertility to the replacement rate of 2.1 average number of children per woman by 2022.

Among the Plan’s key strategies are strengthened coordination among agencies; budget increases for FP commodities and services; demand-for-FP generation activities; financial support for local government units to conduct community-based campaigns; the creation of a Reproductive Health Bureau within the Department of Health; and capacity building activities for FP providers, especially the Commission on Population and Development (CPD).

The Program requires an estimated total budget of PhP10.435 billion for years 2020 to 2022.

In ASEAN, the Philippines has the highest fertility rate (2.7 children per woman) and remains one of the region’s fastest-growing populations, with an average annual growth of 1.6 percent.

“Our neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Thailand have decreased their annual population growth rates by lowering fertility. In 2017, the two countries recorded Gross National Incomes that were double, even triple ours,” Pernia said.

He added that while the Philippines was the first to pursue family planning in 1969, it failed to sustain it due to opposition from conservative groups. Hence, the government’s FP program has yet to be fully revived, despite the passage of the RPRH Law five years ago.

The Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 indicates that harnessing the demographic window—a condition where majority of the population is young and in good health, and has the right skill set to be highly productive—is key in reducing poverty and achieving inclusive growth in the medium- and long-term.

“Reaping the demographic dividend will not only have reduced poverty markedly but also help significantly strengthen and broaden our human capital base, required for science, technology  and innovation (STI) ecosystem towards becoming a globally competitive knowledge economy,” Pernia said.

In pursuing this, the President issued Executive Order 12 in January 2017 directing government agencies to implement the RPRH Law, particularly the NPPFP, to attain zero unmet need for family planning, and reduce unplanned pregnancies by enabling couples to have their desired number and spacing of children.

Meanwhile, upon the recommendation of Secretary Pernia and CPD Executive Director, Undersecretary Juan Antonio A. Perez III, the President also agreed to endorse two supporting bills that are now pending in Congress.

One is the Adolescent Pregnancy Bill (Senate Bill 1482; House Bill 4742), which calls for the development of a national plan for the prevention of teenage pregnancy. Second is the POPDEV Bill (House Bill 4689), which seeks to establish population and development offices in local government units.