As population grows, Aquino pushes anew for RH law

MANILA, Philippines – With the Philippine population predicted to hit 100 million this year, President Benigno Aquino III made another push for the stalled reproductive health law, saying responsible parenthood is all the more important.

The Aquino administration broke the 15-year impasse on the measure strongly opposed by the Catholic Church, and passed the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 in time for Christmas that year.

Before the law could be implemented in 2013, however, the Supreme Court suspended it in March, upon the petition of several Catholic-affiliated groups and individuals who questioned its constitutionailty.

"You are a parent, you bring children into this world, you have responsibilities," Aquino told female high school students on Tuesday, June 7.

Government measures

Malacañang earlier acknowledged the challenge of a growing population, but also said it would be a good opportunity for the Philippines.

“That (growing population) is both a challenge and an opportunity because people are the most important component of any society. That is our view of the situation,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said.

Aside from the RH law, Aquino said it is also essential to provide quality education to the growing population as one million people are added to the country's labor pool each year.

He said increasing opportunities for everybody is important in making the country's economic growth inclusive and felt by all classes. A good education, he said, leads to skills development that would get more people employed.

In line with this, he pointed to the value of training brought by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, which produced over 500,000 graduates – 62% of whom found jobs. In the past, only 20 to 26% of TESDA graduates got employed.

Coloma said the government is keeping an eye on the growth rate to ensure it has adequate resources for growing population. He said even without the RH Law, the government would continue other programs focused on a growing population, as allowed by law.

The government has since increased its social development budget.

“That is why our Philippine Development Plan is focused on inclusive growth. Everyone should be included. Most of the Filipinos should not be left behind or set aside,” he said. Rappler.com