No to 3-child policy; DOH to promote family planning instead

Rambo Talabong
No to 3-child policy; DOH to promote family planning instead
Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell Ubial says that, in most cases, 'women in this country have more children than they want'

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) said it has no plans of pushing for a 3-child policy in the country, an idea that President Rodrigo Duterte has brought up.

Instead, it will use the President’s suggestion to promote family planning in the country, Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said in her first press conference as department head on Monday, July 4.

The statement was made after Ubial’s induction to office as new DOH secretary.

Ubial clarified that, while there are no plans of banning having more than 3 children in a family, they will promote family planning to arrive at an ideal 3-children-per-family setup in the future.

“Three is the desired number of children, average number of children that women of reproductive age in this country want,” Ubial said.

According to the Philippine Commission on Women, on average, Filipino families have 3.3 children per family. The poorer families have an average of 5.2 children per family.

In most cases, Ubial said, “women in this country have more children than they want.”

What the DOH plans to implement is a promotion on “spacing,” where they recommend families to reproduce in intervals of time. Ubial prescribed that the health of mothers and children is optimized and ideal if the spacing of births is 3-5 years.

“It’s still the choice of the individual woman of reproductive age, or the couple if they are in a relationship, to discuss their desired number of children and we will support them in attaining that desired number of children,” she said.

Duterte earlier expressed interest in implementing a 3-child policy, which immediately circulated in media. He later made it clear that he “cannot force the people to follow,” thus downgrading it to just a suggestion. (READ: Duterte: 3-child policy just a ‘suggestion’)

“Aside from the TRO of the Supreme Court, there are other challenges in this country implementing the reproductive health law and the famly planning program. Rest assured, we will call all sectors. We believe that everyone should be involved in ensuring the health and well-being of our people, not just health workers. We will call on all sectors, including the church. Including faith-based groups to help us attain the desired number of children of each family,” Ubial said. –

Rambo Talabong is a Rappler intern.

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.