Pernia admits program for population, family planning ‘underfunded’
MANILA, Philippines — Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia has admitted that the national program on population and family planning (NPPFP) was “underfunded” under the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020.
Pernia made this confession during the start of the House of Representatives’ scrutiny of the budget, upon the questioning of Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman.
Pernia, chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), said that in general, the population and family planning program was “not very visible in the radar” even during the past administrations.
This was why, he said, they “have not actually sustained the implementation of the family planning program from when it was implemented in 1969.”
“When this budget (2020) was being crafted, this (NPPFP) was kind of under the screen or under the radar. I would say it is underfunded,” Pernia noted.
Had the previous governments sustained the program since the start, the country would be “much better off” now in terms of social services, infrastructure, school buildings, investment in human capital, education, and health, according to Pernia.
The country’s population in 2017 was 104.9 million and it is expected to reach 107 million this year. Meanwhile, poverty incidence as of 2015 was at 21.5 percent, according to Pernia
Lagman lamented this and cited the remark of the late Rafael Salas, former head of the United Nations Population Fund, who said that the rise in population and development of a country must be in tandem.
Under the proposed National Expenditure Program for 2020, the Commission on Population has proposed a budget of P178.299 million, with 60 percent of which, or P106.979 million, allotted for various family planning programs. Meanwhile, under the budget of the Department of Health, some P2.229 billion and P1.034 billion are appropriated for the family health, nutrition, and responsible parenting, and the national family planning program, respectively.
NPPFP, a part of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law of 2012, aims to reduce unplanned and unwanted pregnancies through responsible parenthood.
In an earlier statement, Pernia said President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order No. 12 in January 2017 directing government agencies to implement the law, particularly NPPFP. The government will also “carry out full and intensified implementation of the program,” he added.
Also present during the budget briefing were House members and representatives of agencies under the Development Budget Coordination Committee.
The House aims to pass the General Appropriations Bill on third and final reading by October 4, with its signing into law before the year ends. /kga
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