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Unabated population becomes a major concern
By Manolo B. Jara July 17, 2017
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MANILA: Unabated population growth will result in a total of 105 million Filipinos by the end of 2017, with teenage pregnancies, mostly from poor families, emerging as a major concern.

This was the warning raised by the state-run Population Commission (Popcom) which pointed out that the runaway population growth would impact on  government efforts to reduce poverty as well as provide basic services to the people like food, clothing, shelter and education.

Lolito Tacardon, the Popcom deputy chief, said that while the annual population growth rate has gone down to 1.7 percent, this still meant the addition of two million Filipinos every year, or about 24 babies born every  hour.

“Whether this is alarming or not depends on the government’s capacity to provide services to the people,” Tacardon said as he pointed out that the Philippines annual population growth rate remained one of the the highest among its partners in the  10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

Popcom noted that the annual population growth rate in other Asean members were lower than that of the Philippines, particularly Thailand, 0.4 percent;  Vietnam and Indonesia, one percent; and Malaysia, 1.6 percent.

But more than that, Tacardon expressed alarm over the unabated increase in teenage pregnancies in the Philippines, the only country in  the Asia-Pacific region where the number of teenage mothers, mostly from poor families, rose over the last two decades.

Klaus Beck, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)  resident representative to the Philippines, agreed and urged the government to provide more access to family planning services to women to help reduce poverty.

“It (family planning) is not only a key to reducing poverty, it is central to gender equality and women empowerment,” Beck stressed, noting that the Philippines has already passed a family planning law known as the Responsible Parenthood and  Reproductive Health Act.

Beck added: “The right of women and girls to decide freely and for themselves when and how many children to have bring women and girls an opportunity to become great earners.”

But Beck lamented that legal challenges have prevented the government from fully implementing the programme, apparently referring to the strong opposition from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

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