Family planning advocates including the Philippine Commission on Population (POPCOM), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD) have urged the incoming administration of President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to maintain a strong family planning program that will put an end to unintended pregnancies, especially among young people.
POPCOM Executive Director Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III said unplanned pregnancies usually come with consequences that tend to limit opportunities, especially for young prospective mothers.
Perez said unplanned pregnancies deprive many young people of opportunities “to be part of mainstream development.” He said so during the 2022 State of the World Population (SWOP) Report by the UNFPA and the launching of its publication titled “Seeing the Unseen: The Case for Action in the Neglected Crisis of Unintended Pregnancy” held recently at Crowne Plaza, Ortigas Center, Quezon City.
Perez said Philippine society is not expected to “age” until 2035. “So, we have a window of opportunity between now and 2035 to take advantage of this demographic transition where we have low fertility. Meaning, a computation growth rate at around 1 percent. We are hoping the continuing reduction of unintended pregnancy will stay. But the population will still grow at a manageable 1% rather than the 1.5% that we saw in the last five years,” he added.
POPCOM said around 63% of the current Philippine population is potentially productive but the country still needs to improve youth employment, women’s labor force participation, education, and technical-vocational skills.
“A lot needs to be done in these areas to move this country forward. These policies should be addressed at the family level,” Perez emphasized.
The 2022 SWOP Report says the Philippines is currently in the same situation as countries like Bangladesh, Benin, Chad, and Indonesia where “more than a fifth of births to girls under the age of 18 were results of premarital conception that often precedes marriage.”
“This is a crisis that remains unaddressed, even as many institutions, even the government, have repeatedly sounded the alarm,” PLCPD Executive Director Romeo Dongeto said during the same event.
Dongeto cited Executive Order 141 earlier issued by outgoing President Duterte which called on government instrumentalities to address the root causes of adolescent pregnancies. Hopefully, he said the new government under President Marcos-elect Marcos, will adopt the same policy and communicate it to the legislators within his administration’s first 500 days in office.
For her part, UNFPA Country Representative Leila Saiji Joudane noted that women in countries with more equality, empowerment, and financial resources are able to address or avoid unintended pregnancy.
Joudane encouraged Filipinos to join their campaign to help empower women and girls in making affirmative decisions about sexual activity and motherhood.