MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte will implement a law mandating free contraceptives and population control education to the poor "speedily and fully" to lift more people from poverty, his economic planning secretary said Thursday.
Pernia said unwanted pregnancies affect the poor the most and as a result, mothers are left rearing for their children instead of working and contributing to the family income.
"We will not listen to any sermonizing about family planning bring abortifacient... That's all nonsense," Pernia told foreign correspondents, in an apparent reference to opposition from pro-life groups.
"We need to implement speedily and fully the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law so couples, especially poor families will have informed choice," he added.
Pernia said one-third of pregnancies in the country are "unintended, unwanted and unplanned," and affect mostly poor couples.
"That's why poverty has been persistent over the years. More poor mothers freed from excessive child-bearing and rearing can participate in skills programs so they can join the labor market and get into some entrepreneurship," he said.
Population control is one of 10 priorities of Duterte, who assumed office on June 30.