Duterte to boost family planning programs

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 22 2016 04:36 PM | Updated as of May 22 2016 08:07 PM

Scriptures irrelevant in solving overpopulation: Duterte

DAVAO CITY - With the country's 100-million population still ballooning, presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday that he will intensify family planning programs despite possible opposition from the Catholic Church.

Duterte told reporters in Davao City that he is a Christian, but he does not see anything wrong with educating the masses about reproductive health.

"It will do us good. Mas maraming magawa iyan, walang kasamaan iyan... I am a Christian but I am a realist. We have to do something about overpopulation," he said.

Duterte said he will not mimic other politicians whose reservations at flouting the Catholic Church have stumped reproductive health programs. "Ako, I take the opposite, I defy the belief of the Church," he said.

He said the scriptures being cited by detractors on family planning are already outdated and irrelevant in solving overpopulation.

"Those were written 2,000 years ago or longer maybe. Wala nang meaning 'yan," Duterte said.

"I don't give much importance to the spiritual; walang maitutulong iyan, sa totoo lang. What you should worry about is how you suffer here in this planet. You do not worry about suffering after you make the exit," he added.

READ: Duterte calls Catholic Church 'most hypocritical institution'

Duterte also stressed that he does not favor natural family planning methods because these "stymie the biological functions of a man."

"Ang biological function ng tao, it is an instinct. It is not something that you just remember and if you think of your religion, magpapahinga ka muna," he said.

He guaranteed his administration will provide contraceptives, sex education and everything else needed to control family growth.

Nearly 80 percent of Filipinos are Catholic. The Catholic church opposes birth control and abortion and its hold is strong in the Philippines where divorce and abortion are illegal.

While the Catholic Church was still arguing against the legislation of the reproductive health bill in 2012, Duterte said he had already tasked social workers in Davao City to promote family planning methods.

The two-decade mayor of Davao City said he gives financial aid to his female constituents who undergo ligation -- P2,000 for settling hospital fees, and P3,000 for their other needs while recuperating after the procedure.

It was only in 2014 that the Supreme Court finally upheld a "reproductive health" law, striking down more than a dozen petitions against it from church-backed groups.

The law requires government health centers to supply free condoms and birth control pills, as well as mandating sex education in schools.

It also requires that public health workers receive family planning training, while medical care after an abortion will also be legalized.

Under the 2016 national budget, however, the P3.2-billion allotment for purchasing contraceptives was slashed to P2.275 billion.

Budget Secretary Butch Abad has said the decrease "pertains to the provision for the procurement of the Implanon Implant (contraceptive) in view of the SC decision to temporarily stop the distribution and selling of the said contraceptive. The amount was deducted in the Senate." -- With reports from Dexter Ganibe, dzMM; Rodirey Salas, ABS-CBN News Northern Mindanao