Project Logo

Protection of Conscience Project

www.consciencelaws.org

Service, not Servitude

Legal Commentary
Subscribe to me on YouTube

Philippines RH Act: Rx for controversy
The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 201
2


Appendix "A"

Philippines population control and management policies


Establishment of POPCOM

If the Philippines population management policies and programmes have had no measureable impact on population growth, they have produced one notable outcome. The notion that the government should manage population growth and instruct the population in fertility control and "responsible parenthood" has become part of the normal social, political and health care landscape in the Philippines. Moreover, an infrastructure of familiar government ministries, offices and officials has been established throughout the country to give effect to government policies.

In 1967, President Ferdinand Marcos joined other world leaders in adding his signature to a Declaration on Population that had been made the previous year by representatives of 12 countries (often incorrectly cited in Philippines government documents as "the UN Declaration on Population").23 Two years later, Executive Order 171 established the Commission on Population (POPCOM), and in 1970 Executive Order 233 empowered POPCOM to direct a national population programme.24

The Population Act

The Population Act [RA 6365] passed in 1971 made family planning part of a strategy for national development.25 Subsequent Presidential Decrees required increased participation of public and private sectors, private organizations and individuals in the population programme.26

Under President Corazon Aquino (1986 to 1992) the family planning element of the programme was transferred to the Department of Health, where it became part of a five year health plan for improvements in health, nutrition and family planning. According to the Philippines National Statistics Office, the strong influence of the Catholic Church undermined political and financial support for family planning, so that the focus of the health policy was on maternal and child health, not on fertility reduction.27

The Population Management Program

The Ramos administration launched the Philippine Population Management Program (PPMP)in 1993. This was modified three years later to incorporate "responsible parenthood" policies.28 During the Philippines 12th Congress (2001-2004) policymakers and politicians began to focus on "reproductive health."29

Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning Program

In 2006 the President ordered the Department of Health, POPCOM and local governments to direct and implement the Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning Program.

The Responsible Parenthood and Natural Family Planning Program's primary policy objective is to promote natural family planning, birth spacing (three years birth spacing) and breastfeeding which are good for the health of the mother, child, family, and community. While LGUs can promote artificial family planning because of local autonomy, the national government advocates natural family planning.30

Population policy effectiveness and outcomes

The population of the Philippines grew steadily from about 27million in 1960 to over 90 million in 2008. Starting from similar populations in 1960, Thailand, Myanmar and South Korea now have lower populations, and the disparity among them is more marked (See Figure 1).

Figure 1

Population growth from 1960

However, during the same period, the rate of population growth in the Philippines and these countries decreased (See Figure 2). Moreover, the decrease in the Philippines growth rate remained comparatively steady, and was consistent with the decrease in population growth rate rate worldwide (See Figure 3).

Figure 2

Rate of population growth from 1960


Figure 3

Rate of population growth from 1960

We do not know what would have happened had there been no population programs and policies in the Philippines. However, it is impossible to show that they have had any notable effect on population, particularly when trends in the Philippines are compared to trends elsewhere. A paper published in 2003 asserted that the population program was "ineffectual," the result of "inadequate institutional and financial support."31

Collateral outcomes

If the Philippines population management policies and programmes have had no measureable impact on population growth, they have produced one notable outcome. The notion that the government should manage population growth and instruct the population in fertility control and "responsible parenthood" has become part of the normal social, political and health care landscape in the Philippines. Moreover, an infrastructure of familiar government ministries, offices and officials has been established throughout the country to give effect to government policies.

Influence of the Catholic Church

If the Catholic Church has enjoyed a privileged position with respect to Philippines government policies in family planning. . . it seems, nonetheless, to have been ineffective in advancing Catholic teaching on contraception and sterilization.

Over 80% of Filipinos are Catholic, so it is not surprising to encounter assertions that population management infrastructure and operations "largely reflect the Catholic Church's position on family planning which emphasizes responsible parenting, informed choice, respect for life and birth spacing."32 The Catholic bishops of the country have been accused of opposing and hampering population management and fertility reduction policies.33

Certainly, they have forbidden Catholic hospitals to "provide facilities and services for induced abortion, contraceptive sterilization, or the administration of artificial contraceptives," and insisted that admitting privileges are conditional on adherence to this policy. Members of Catholic religious orders may administer or work in non-Catholic hospitals where such services are provided only if their presence is not exploited to create a public impression that they approve of them, and they do not participate in them. The bishops have advised Catholics working in hospitals where contraceptive sterilization is offered to notify management in writing "of their conscientious refusal to directly participate in such procedures."34

However, this is not the whole story.

A 1993 survey of women aged 15 to 49 in 1993 found that over 96% were familiar with one or more methods of family planning, including modern contraceptive methods, and that over 90 percent knew where to obtain the pill, 80 percent the IUD, condom and female sterilization, and 70 percent male sterilization. Of the married women surveyed, 40% were practising some form of birth control, most often dispensed by government sources. Only 7% were using methods accepted by Catholic teaching,35 and of the non-users, less than 5% were "opposed to family planning or cited religion as a reason for not using contraception."36

From 1992 to 2003, 70% of contraceptives used were obtained from government sources.37 In 2002 over 57% of those using birth control were using modern contraceptives.38 By 2009, a prominent Filipino politician offered the following summary of the political relevance of Catholic teaching on contraception:

He cites recent surveys showing majority of Catholics favoring a reproductive health law, requiring government to teach family planning to the youth, and the government distributing legal contraceptives like condoms, pills and IUDs. Religion, says Lagman, ranks only 9th out of 10 reasons why women do not use contraception. That a Catholic can still be a good Catholic and use family planning methods outside the only church-approved natural family planning methods has been expressed by a number of faculty and staff members of the Catholic institution Ateneo de Manila University, a position also held by University of the Philippines academicians. Lagman is himself a Catholic, and goes to mass when he can.39

If the Catholic Church has enjoyed a privileged position with respect to Philippines government policies in family planning, and if the Church has hampered government efforts to control fertility and reduce the population, it seems, nonetheless, to have been ineffective in advancing Catholic teaching on contraception and sterilization.


Notes

23. The Population Council, "Declaration on Population: The World Leaders Statement." Studies in Family Planning, No. 26, January, 1968 [Accessed 2010-09-18]

24. Philippines National Statistics Office, National Demographic Survey, 1993 (May, 1994) p. 4. (Accessed 2010-09-18) Current references to Executive Orders frequently cite only the Order number without a date. Since there are different numbered series of Executive Orders, this can cause some confusion. For example: in addition to the Order cited above (Executive Order 233 [1970]), there is an Executive Order 233 (2000) and an Executive Order 233 (2003), which deal with completely different subjects.

25. Commission on Population, Republic of the Philippines, About Us. (Accessed 2010-09-18)

26. Presidential Decrees 72 (1970) and 166 (1975). Commission on Population, Republic of the Philippines, About Us. (Accessed 2010-09-18)

27. Philippines National Statistics Office, National Demographic Survey, 1993 (May, 1994) p. 5-6. (Accessed 2010-09-18)

28. Commission on Population, Republic of the Philippines, About Us. (Accessed 2010-09-18)

29. Senate Economic Planning Office Policy Brief, Promoting Reproductive Health: A Unified Strategy to Achieve the MDGs (July, 2009) Accessed 2010-09-17

30. Commission on Population, Republic of the Philippines, About Us. (Accessed 2010-09-18)

31. Herrin, Alejandro. Orbeta Jr., Aniceto. Acejo. Iris. Cuenca, Janet. del Prado, Fatima. An Evaluation of the Philippine Population Management Program (PPMP). Philippine Institute for Development Studies Discussion Papers Series No. 2003-18 (December, 2003). See also Lacsamana, Jay Commission on Population: Review of its Mandate and Policy Shifts, Institutional Performance and Resources. Paper drafted for the International Council on Management of Population Programmes (ICOMP) as input to Stream 2, Strengthening Strategic Competencies of POPCOM at the National and Regional Levels, 15 January 2007. (Accessed 2010-09-28)

32. Senate Economic Planning Office Policy Brief, Promoting Reproductive Health: A Unified Strategy to Achieve the MDGs (July, 2009), p. 3. Accessed 2010-09-17

33. Herrin, Alejandro N., "Lack of Consensus Characterizes Philippine Population Policy." Philippine Institute for Development Studies, Policy Notes, No. 2003-03. (Accessed 2010-09-29). On the other hand, Church officials have sometimes suggested or encouraged "Church-government collaborative partnerships" involving "principled collaboration" by the Church. See Ledesman, Bishop Antonio J., Natural Family Planning- A Pastoral Approach (7 April, 2002) (Accessed 2010-09-29). One such partnership was formalized. (Memorandum of Agreement among the Family Life Apostolate of the Lingayen-Dagupan Archdiocese, the Kapihan sa Kumbento, and the Province of Pangasinan, with the concurrence of Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz of the Lingayen-Dagupan Archdiocese. Citied in Herrin, Alejandro N., supra, note 6 a p. 4.

34. Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Moral Norms for Catholic Hospitals and Catholics in Health Services (8 December, 1973). Accessed 2010-09-30. A section of the posted document appears to be missing. Compare to Moral Norms posted at www.bukal.com. The full text concerning religious orders working in non-Catholic hospitals according to the latter is: "Religious may not continue to administer and/or work in a hospital which exploits their presence to create in the mind of the public the impression that they approve of immoral procedures being followed in the hospital. If this impression can be avoided, they may continue in the hospital, but they may not be directly involved in any of those procedures. "

35. Philippines National Statistics Office, National Demographic Survey, 1993 (May, 1994) p. 39-43. (Accessed 2010-09-18)

36. Philippines National Statistics Office, National Demographic Survey, 1993 (May, 1994) p. 54 (Accessed 2010-09-18)

37. Herrin, Alejandro. Orbeta Jr., Aniceto. Acejo. Iris. Cuenca, Janet. del Prado, Fatima. An Evaluation of the Philippine Population Management Program (PPMP). Philippine Institute for Development Studies Discussion Papers Series No. 2003-18 (December, 2003), p. 7

38. Herrin, Alejandro. Orbeta Jr., Aniceto. Acejo. Iris. Cuenca, Janet. del Prado, Fatima. An Evaluation of the Philippine Population Management Program (PPMP). Philippine Institute for Development Studies Discussion Papers Series No. 2003-18 (December, 2003), p. 8

39. Torrevilas, Domini M., "Lagman's commitment to reproductive health." Phil Star, 28 February, 2009. (Accessed 2010-09-18)