Gov’t vows to implement RH law
In line with plans to reduce the country’s poverty rate to 16 percent by 2022, the Duterte administration plans to start this year the full implementation of sexuality education modules in schools under the Reproductive Health (RH) law, the country’s chief economist said.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia also said in a briefing Thursday that the government would set a higher budget, from just about P2 billion annually, for family planning and reproductive health as a whole.
This, as a policy brief released by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) and the United Nations Population Fund showed that because fertility rates in the country dropped at a slower pace than most of its Asian neighbors and resulted in a relatively high population growth rate, the country failed to achieve a “demographic transition” in the past decade that would have led to faster economic growth.
The policy brief authored by UP School of Economics dean and professor Dennis S. Mapa showed the country’s fertility rate in 2013 at 3 percent, the highest, alongside a similar rate in Laos, in Southeast Asia.
The lowest fertility rate in the region was Singapore’s 1.2 percent.
In the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, “mortality rates broadly declined at a similar pace,” Mapa said, but fertility rates dropped slowly in the Philippines, from 7 percent in 1960 to 3 percent in 2013.
“Due to this slow reduction in the fertility rate, the country may not be able to benefit fully from the demographic dividend, and the demographic window of opportunity is closing fast for the country,” Mapa said.
Pernia blamed the similar slow reduction in poverty from 33 percent in 1990 to about 26 percent as of last year to the previous administrations’ lack of a population policy.
While the Aquino administration put in place the RH law, its implementation has not been thorough, said Pernia, who is also Neda’s director general.
The sex education aspect of the RH law, for one, was not fully implemented amid reservations of conservative sectors, Pernia said.
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