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PHL has one of Southeast Asia’s fastest-growing populations – UN report

THE Philippines has one of the fastest population growth rates in Southeast Asia, according to data released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). 

In its State of the World Population Report, the UNFPA said the Philippine population will reach 109.6 million this year, making it the second most populous country in Southeast Asia. 

Based on the data, the Philippines’ total fertility rate (TFR) is at 2.5 percent, the same as Cambodia. This is the second highest in the region where Lao PDR had the highest TFR at 2.6 percent. 

The UNFPA added that between 2015 and 2020, the average annual rate of population change in the Philippines was at 1.4 percent, the highest in the Asean-5 or the five original founders of the regional bloc. 

In the region, the Asean countries with the highest average annual rate of population change were Cambodia and Lao PDR with 1.5 percent. 

“These are the basic reasons why Sec Pernia (former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia) made sure that the full implementation of the RPRH (Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health) law is (included in) the top 10 socioeconomic priorities in the Philippine Development Plan; and why there is a Chapter 13 on demographic dividend in the plan,” Commission on Population and Development (Popcom) Executive Director Dr. Juan A. Perez III told BusinessMirror over the weekend.

Perez said the government is now preparing a report on the RPRH Law to determine how far the Philippines has come in terms of meeting the law’s provisions. 

He said preliminary data showed the country has improved the access to modern contraceptives to 58 percent as of 2019 from the initial 39 percent at the end of 2013 when the law was enacted. 

The Popcom head said this brings the country closer to its target of reaching a 65-percent contraceptive prevalence rate among married women by 2022. 

“We are preparing the RPRH law report for 2019 which will show contraception prevalence rate at an all-time high of 58 percent among married women for modern family planning methods,” Perez said.  

Based on the zero to 10 point agenda prepared by the Duterte administration, agenda 10 aims to strengthen the implementation of the RPRH Law to enable especially poor couples to make informed choices on financial and family planning.

Earlier, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said four years into the President’s term, the Duterte administration is already past the halfway mark in achieving its own zero to 10 point socioeconomic agenda.

In a recent online forum on the World Bank’s Philippine Economic Update (PEU), Chua said the government has already achieved 7 points in the agenda to date. 

Chua said the achievement of the socioeconomic agenda allowed the country to face the current pandemic. He said the Philippines would have been worse off without the reforms undertaken in the past four years.

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