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Asean Affairs  16 December 2010

Talking family planning in the Philippines

By  David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs     16 December 2010

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The estimated population of the Philippines as of mid – 2010 was close to 100 million with a fertility rate of 3.23 children per woman and a per capita income of US$3,300 ranking it 164 in the world.

Shortly after this year’s election of Benigno S. Aquino III, the new Philippine president who has an economics background, stated he felt that poor families should receive government help in family planning to help them become “responsible parents.” This help included the provision of condoms and perhaps other methods that are widely used throughout the world.

Aquino’s statement drew spirited rebukes from the Catholic hierarchy in the largely Catholic country coupled with threats to excommunicate the new president.

However, the anti-Aquino rhetoric gradually subsided and then in the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI made a statement supporting condom use in the case of protecting homosexuals and women from HIV infection.

Today’s news brings a welcome sign of reason triumphing over hostility as the government and the Church have agreed to provide “full information” on methods of family planning and an open discussion of President Aquino’s position on responsible parenthood.

The details of the information have not been made public but given the stormy history between the Catholic Church and government health forces, this development constitutes a major milestone in the birth control debate that has been held in the Philippines.

Whatever one’s position is on the issue, it is hard to ignore the effects of overpopulation on the Philippines and its citizens.

The issue remains if the use of birth control methods in the Philippines will be arriving too late to prevent exponential population growth in the poverty-stricken nation.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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