MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said he "squarely blames" the Catholic Church for the rapid population growth in the Philippines.
The Church has been actively campaigning against the use of contraception, Duterte told his long-time friend, Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, in a televised interview.
"We are the fastest ang population and I squarely blame the Catholic Church. Sila lang nagpipigil ng family planning," the president said.
(They are the only ones against family planning.)
"Kaya pinigilan nila 'yan, they think that spewing out human beings by the millions is a gift from God."
Duterte warned that health officials would be removed from their posts should they refuse to implement the government's family planning policies due to their religious beliefs.
"You are not performing, you do not follow government policy?
It gets into your religious beliefs? Then step, leave the government," he said.
As of August 2015, there are 100.9 million Filipinos, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed.
With a 1.72-percent population growth between 2010 and 2015, the Philippines has the world's 13th biggest population, US-based World Population Review (WRP) said.
It is the second most populous country in Southeast Asia and has the highest population-growth rate in the region, data from the WRP website showed.