April 03, 2019

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK CITY—Firm policies on population and development are already in place in the Philippines that should enable the government to meet its medium-term demographic-economic goals.

This was according to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, who read the country statement during the 52nd Session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD) on Monday.

These policies include the issuance of Executive Order No. 12 (s.2017) to achieve and sustain zero unmet need for modern family planning by 2022, as well as the inclusion of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law’s (RA 10354) full implementation in the President’s 0-10 Socioeconomic Agenda. Pernia also cited the recent approval of the intensified implementation of the National Program on Population and Family Planning.

“Even in the face of challenging political and cultural factors, our country has achieved significant milestones at the outcome and policy levels. For one, access to maternal, neonatal, and child health care services has improved over recent years,” Pernia said.

He explained that, while Filipinos continue to increase in number—around 2 million annually— population growth rate in the Philippines has declined by 1.76 percent.

Thanks to increased use of modern family planning methods, the country’s current total fertility rate is 2.7 children per woman, which declined from 5.7 in 1975, 4.3 in 1990, and 3 in 2013. Government aims to further bring this down to 2.4 children per woman on average.

In his statement, Pernia also said the government is pursuing policy interventions to reach for and optimize the demographic dividend. “An important part of the strategy, as laid out in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, is to set in place measures that improve and develop our human capital to full potential.”

One example is the recent enactment of the Universal Health Care Law, which mandates citizens to enroll into the National Health Insurance Program and expands the Program’s coverage to include free medical consultations and laboratory tests.

The government also continues to institutionalize education reforms through the K-12 Program, as well as the provision of free tuition fees for tertiary students of state universities and colleges.

“Despite remaining gaps, we will vigorously pursue strategic ways to ensure people-centered, self-sustaining development towards the realization of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) agenda in the Philippines,” Pernia said.

“We thus call on all countries present to renew and deepen our commitment to implementing the ICPD agenda, an important part of the Sustainable Development Goals,” he added.

Pernia is leading the Philippine delegation to the UN-hosted event in New York City—which runs from April 1 to 5—composed of NEDA, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Commission on Population and Development.