MANILA -- The Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) is pushing to lower the fertility rate of Filipino women to prevent unplanned pregnancies and reduce poverty nationwide.
In a television interview on Wednesday, PopCom executive director and Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III said demographic dividend can only be achieved when the women's fertility rate is reduced.
Demographic dividend is the increase in economic productivity when the number of people in the workforce is relative to the number of their dependents, according to the United Nations Population Fund.
"That can only happen if we bring down the fertility rate of Filipino women to 2.1 because currently the fertility rate is 2.7. This means they're having almost three children in their lifetime, when women only want to have two children," Perez said.
He explained that the government can help Filipino women achieve the number of children they want to have and be a productive members of the work force at the same time, through the National Program on Family Planning.
"That could be done by giving them the opportunity to do spacing between their children. We have 11 percent of women of reproductive age who say they want no more children, and that (percentage translates to) 2 million women," he said, adding that the government, through its family planning drive, could provide tubal ligation for women and vasectomy for men.
Citing that the poor have the most number of children based on demographical survey, Perez urged all couples not to rely on the traditional methods of planning, such as withdrawal and rhythm technique, as their effectivity rate is below 50 percent.
"Teenage pregnancy is also on the rise. There are 200,000 teenage girls getting pregnant ever year and this is something we could also limit (through the program)," Perez added.
On March 4, President Rodrigo R. Duterte has approved the implementation plan of the National Program on Family Planning.
Under the program, some 11.3 million women would be given access to effective modern contraceptives over the next four years and increase the usage thereof from 40 percent to 65 percent.
Its aim is to reduce the country’s poverty rate and promote better health and socioeconomic development among Filipinos.