Pop­u­la­tion – a prob­lem but also a bless­ing

Tempo - - News -

THE Philip­pine pop­u­la­tion is grow­ing by about 2 mil­lion a year and by the end of 2017, we will num­ber 105.75 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the Philip­pine Pop­u­la­tion Com­mis­sion. The United Na­tions es­ti­mate as of July, 2017, is 103.83 mil­lion.

Sixty-two years ago, in 1955, the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion was only 22.17 mil­lion, but it was grow­ing by 3.6 per­cent a year. By 1965, the pop­u­la­tion had reached 30.91 mil­lion; by 1975, 41.29 mil­lion; by 1985, 54.32 mil­lion; by 1995, 69.83 mil­lion; by 2005, 86.14 mil­lion; and by 2015, 100.69 mil­lion.

In 2012, dur­ing the Aquino ad­min­is­tra­tion, Congress en­acted the Re­spon­si­ble Par­ent­hood and Re­pro­duc­tive Health Act (RA 10354) but such was the op­po­si­tion to cer­tain pro­vi­sions on con­tra­cep­tives that were deemed anti-life, that a pe­ti­tion ques­tion­ing its con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity was filed with the Supreme Court. The court is­sued a tem­po­rary re­strain­ing or­der in 2015, and partly lifted it only re­cently. Mean­while, Pres­i­dent Duterte last Jan­uary is­sued Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der No. 12 call­ing for full im­ple­men­ta­tion of the law and pro­vid­ing funds for a mod­ern fam­ily plan­ning pro­gram avail­able to the poor by 2018.

The govern­ment stresses that RA 10354 is prin­ci­pally a re­pro­duc­tive health bill, aimed at help­ing poor moth­ers get ad­e­quate health care, but some of­fi­cials place greater stress on keep­ing the Philip­pine pop­u­la­tion from un­duly ex­pand­ing and thus af­fect­ing na­tional eco­nomic growth. Thus, when the coun­try crossed the 100-mil­lion line in 2015, they saw it as a cause for grave con­cern.

And yet, in much of the rest of the world to­day, the con­cern is quite the op­po­site; it’s over fall­ing pop­u­la­tions. Statis­ti­cians place the pop­u­la­tion re­place­ment rate as 2.1 births per women, but many coun­tries have fallen well be­low this rate. In Europe, Ger­many’s rate fell to 1.47 births per woman in 2014; it rose to 1.5 in 2015, due in part to an in­flux of refugees from the Mid­dle East, but it is ex­pected to de­cline in the next 40 years. France had the high­est birth rate in Europe in 2014 – 2.01 – com­pared to Europe’s av­er­age of 1.58, but suf­fered a sig­nif­i­cant de­crease in 2016. In Eng­land and Wales, the birth rate was 1.83 in 2014, but de­creased to 1.82 in 2015.

Closer to home, our neigh­bor to the north Tai­wan had the world’s low­est fer­til­ity rate at 0.9 baby per woman in 2011 and has since of­fered all sorts of in­cen­tives to its young moth­ers. As for main­land China, it adopted a one-child pol­icy in the 1970s but ended it in 2015 as the el­derly pop­u­la­tion bal­looned. Last year, births in­creased by 1.31 mil­lion but this is far short of China’s hopes for 3 mil­lion ba­bies an­nu­ally in the next five years.

Con­sid­er­ing all these de­vel­op­ments in other na­tions, we should wel­come the re­port of the Philip­pine Pop­u­la­tion Com­mis­sion that 2 mil­lion Filipinos are due to be added to the na­tional pop­u­la­tion this year. The govern­ment’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment plans for the next five years of the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion should be able to pro­vide jobs for these new ad­di­tions to our pop­u­la­tion, es­pe­cially in the ru­ral ar­eas where agri­cul­ture holds the great­est prospects for de­vel­op­ment in the coun­try to­day.

Our in­creas­ing pop­u­la­tion may pose an eco­nomic prob­lem to the govern­ment, but it is also a bless­ing for our coun­try as it takes an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant place in the world of na­tions.

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