Duterte says social distancing ‘impossible’, pushes for better family planning
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday emphasized the need for better family planning, saying the rapid population growth made it “impossible” for some Filipinos to observe social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“There are so many Filipinos that are crammed in the urban areas. So at the very least mask, face shield, for the maximum protection,” he said in a speech during the inauguration of projects at the Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport in Negros Oriental.
“But other, especially social distancing, I do not think that we can force our people really to [observe it] because it’s impossible. There are too many Filipinos in the urban areas than in the rural areas,” the President added.
Duterte said the Philippines has the “fastest increase in population,” with 110 million at present.
He hoped for a better implementation of the government’s family planning program, including providing contraceptives which the Catholic Church has long opposed.
“We are now 110 million and I really hope that we can do something about this in the future. Sabagay wala na ako. I will be freed of that worry. But you know, we’d pass it on to the generation,” he said.
“Sana we can match the family planning programs of the government at least with our GDP (gross domestic product),” he added.
In 2017, Duterte signed an executive order intensifying modern family planning access, including ensuring free access to contraceptives for 6 million women.
The Philippines have so far been registering more than 3,000 new COVID-19 infections a day for five days in March.
The Department of Health (DOH) logged 3,749 new cases on Thursday, the highest number of additional COVID-19 cases so far this year.
The DOH earlier acknowledged that there is a significant surge in the number of coronavirus cases but claimed that this is “not solely” because of the presence of the new variants.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the “underlying cause” of a growing number of COVID-19 cases could also be related to the public’s inability to comply with the minimum standards of public health.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.