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ASEAN ANALYSIS  5 October 2010

The battle is on in the Philippines

By David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs     5 October 2010

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Population, Philippines
90,348,437 - 2008
Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators

For many years, in fact, forever, the Catholic Church has opposed birth control in the Philippines but the stage now seems to be set for an epic battle with new President Benigno Simeon "Ninoy" Aquino Jr.

Aquino, unmarried and a practicing Catholic, feels that he should offer the poor in the Philippines the opportunity to do a bit of family planning to control not only the growth of their family but the country’s population growth as well..

This presidential pronouncement unleashed an attack from the clergy and their supporters. One day, the president could be excommunicated; the next day, the Church might engage in civil disobedience to further their anti-birth control cause.

Today, Aquino called for the clergy to “sober up” and tone the down the rhetoric.

Various politicians have also spoken up indicating that they the feel the church leaders are out of step with current thinking on family planning within the Philippines.

Whatever one’s personal views are on the subject of family planning it can be said that the Philippines is struggling to accommodate its burgeoning population in terms of being able to provide enough food, potable water and sanitation facilities as well as provide an education for the large number of children.

It has been pointed out that as many countries face an over-60 graying population crisis, Philippines faces an under-25 population bulge that strains it s available resources.

This church-state battle is one that is going to provide a lot of news stories in coming weeks with outcome quite uncertain, although Aquino seems to have popular and political momentum to get family planning established as a government function.

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