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Popcom: PH posts ‘jobless growth’

An official of the Commission on Population on Monday described the economy’s expansion as “jobless growth” and warned that the young population contributed to a high dependency ratio in which an average of 61 people depended on 100 working individuals. At a forum on reproductive health, population and climate change, PopCom Deputy Executive Director Rosalinda Marcelino said the real dependency ratio could be higher because not all among the 61 were employed. “The average Filipino family is poor and suffering from all kinds of illnesses because of nutrition problem and environmental hazards,” she said. While fewer than 2 million were added annually to the population, Marcelino said there was also a gap between the actual and wanted fertility rate, especially among the poor. She said there was an increasing trend in early or adolescent pregnancy. “At least 9.9 percent of 15-19 age bracket are already having children,” Marcelino said. Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, principal author of the reproductive health bill that was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III last December, said  RH was not considered a “green issue” because it was not seen as calamity reduction and adaptation measure. But people’s access to family planning and health services would surely help in adaptation to climate change effects, he said. “Addressing unmet need for family planning could slow down population growth and will reduce demographic pressure on the environment,” he said. He said studies have shown that an investment of $7 in family planning reduces carbon dioxide emission by one ton. Marcelino said on the average, families with more members spend less on education and health. “The rapid increase in labor force is a challenge to employment. Even if the economy is growing, it is still a jobless growth,” she said. She said the increase in school-age population remains a challenge as increasing population also increases demand for food. “Among PopCom’s priority issues are addressing gap in wanted and actual fertility and balancing population growth with resources,” Marcelino told the forum organized by the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development. Lagman said the RH law would enable couples and women to fulfill their fertility goals. He said studies have shown that the gap between wanted and actual fertility rates is alarmingly high in women in the poorest quintile. Citing the 2006 Family Planning Survey, Lagman said an average of 44 percent of pregnancies in the poorest 10 percent of Filipino women are unwanted. The survey also reveals that contraceptive use remains extremely low among poor women whose families are at greatest risk during disasters. “Among the poorest 20 percent of women, over 50 percent do not use any form of family planning because of lack of information and access to services and commodities,” Lagman said. He said the RH law would decrease teenage pregnancies as a result of age and development-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education. However, Lagman said despite the drop in teen marriages, teenage pregnancies in the country have increased by 65 percent over a 10-year period from 2000-2010 according to the United Nations Population Fund and Plan Philippines. “Teenage pregnancy in the Philippines is among the highest in the world,” Lagman said. Naderev Sano of the Climate Change Commission said every year, 11 million hectares of forest is lost globally, almost the size of Luzon. “In the last century, there was a dramatic increase in temperature in the world. Last decade is the warmest decade in history,” he said. Sano said human-induced climate change is also happening because of human activities have an impact on the planet. Climate change is not a problem but a symptom of a planetary system in crisis, he said. He said sea level rise as one of the results of climate change has potential to aggravate all the other effects. “By 2020 warming will be one degree higher; by 2050, it will be two degrees,” Sano said. Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat said in 2020, 72 percent of Filipinos will be living in urban areas. “This should get us thinking about land use and zoning seriously,” Baguilat said, as he urged Congress to pass his bill on national land use. Under the Climate Hazard Index, Sano showed the entire Philippine archipelago is red, meaning high risk. He said most refugees as a result of climate change will come from Asia and Africa. Emission of countries continue to rise even with the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change, he said. Citing the 2011 UN World Risk Report, Sano said the Philippines placed third in risk ranking, “always in top three.” At the same forum, Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said every year, 230 children will miss their fifth birthday, 170 children will miss their first birthday, and 107 newborns die daily. “There are nine new people living with HIV in the Philippines every day,” Tayag said. “Concretizing a concept of RH and universal RH care based on culture and values of Filipinos is a challenge.
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