Popcom Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III delivers his inspirational message during the Regional Family Planning Summit in Tacloban City.

TACLOBAN CITY – The Commission on Population (Popcom) held a regional family planning summit to galvanize actions and commitment into a more innovative implementation of the family planning program in the region.
Different concerned agencies and stakeholders converged last Thursday (August 31) for a collaborative information in accelerating the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law (RPRH) underlining the political commitment of local government units in the region in ensuring that women and their families can have access to life-saving family planning information, services, and supplies.
RPPH Law explicitly provides for family planning which is central to reducing poverty, gender equality and women empowerment consistent with the national development goals.
Popcom Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio Perez said that despite having RPRH Law, it has been faced with legal challenges falling short of its envisioned outcomes.
Perez said that family planning is “dependent on supplies” and addressing these needs for supplies can help accelerate the implementation of the RPRH Law. The Supreme Court has issued a temporary restraining order on the certification of certain contraceptives.
While concerned government agencies have pitched its share in terms of administrative issuances and memorandum circular, Perez called on their commitment, particularly the LGU’s in assessing RPRH’s progress, review how family planning can contribute to new and critical global development goals and recommit to enabling every woman to realize her right to choose whether and when to have children.
Popcom maintains that family planning saves lives. It enables couples to choose whether and when to have children. It preserves women’s and girls’ health and empowers them to pursue education and work. It boosts their ability to save, contribute to the economy, and invest in the health and education of their children. In sum, family planning enriches communities and strengthens economies.
Meanwhile, Popcom Regional Director Elnora Pulma called for more access to family planning services for women and men to reduce poverty in the region saying poor families should be given family planning services as couples from the poor tend to have more children because of lack of knowledge on family planning.
In the Philippines, there are currently 101 million Filipinos, 60 percent of whom belong to the poor and middle classes.
With a growth rate of about 1.7 percent a year, the population is expected to reach 104 million by the yearend.
Pulma said poor couples have an average of five children, unlike rich couples who usually only have two. She added this is “alarming” that poor families register more births.
“We should address the needs of poor families,” she added.
The country’s population includes 23 million women of reproductive age, which will grow to 30 million by 2020. Seventy percent of these women need services on reproductive health, family planning and couples need to be made aware of the principles of responsible parenthood. Currently, RH services are reaching 46% of the population. Services need to keep pace with the increasing number of women reaching reproductive capacity every year.