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PH population growth slows, 2020 estimate 1M less than expected

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) reported on Friday, December 27, that Philippine population growth declined to 1.52% from 2015 to 2019, from 1.73% between 2010 and 2015.

The estimated population by July 2020 is pegged at 108.7 million – more than 1 million less than the initial estimate of 109.9 million in 2020, and also less than the 109 million predicted by the end of 2019.

According to PopCom Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III, the expected increase in population between 2019 and 2020 is about 1,483,828, or an annual increase of 1.38%.

Age, location dynamics

Perez gave numbers that show that the population of younger age groups is lessening, with drops in the 0-4 years-old and the 0-14 years-old groups.

Meanwhile, Perez said that the working-age populace is growing, with 70.3 million. This is 64% of the population, compared to 62% in 2010.

Almost 2 out of every 5 Filipinos will be residing in Central Luzon, Metro Manila, and Calabarzon by the start of the new decade, with almost half of the population growth occuring in the same 3 areas. Meanwhile, Visayas and Mindanao are reported to have growth figures lower than the national average of 1.52%.

Family planning 'working'

PopCom welcomed the recent population figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), which earlier estimated the population would surpass 110 million by 2020.

“We welcome the new information from the PSA – proof that our nationwide efforts on reproductive health as well as family planning (FP) are yielding positive results, as they are steadily being embraced by Filipinos,” said Perez.

However, Perez said Filipinos should not "fall complacent" with the lowering population growth rate, as the Philippines still has one of the highest rates in the Southeast Asian region.

"There are still lingering issues that we all have to address as we usher in the new decade: management of limited resources in the face of climate change, unrestrained internal migration leading to congestion in urban areas, as well as the disturbing rise of adolescent and teenage pregnancy nationwide, among others," he said.

Government, NGO cooperation needed

Perez said addressing the population growth rate to slow down further would need a "comprehensive approach" with multi-sectoral cooperation.

“It would still take a comprehensive approach that links government efforts to nongovernment organizations and private sector—an approach that allows population programs like FP to reach every community in all 42,000 barangays nationwide. We also enjoin our countrymen to do their part, as their decisions on FP will affect our communities," he said.

In October, the PopCom called on the President to declare the alarming rates of teenage pregnancy a "national emergency."

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia also said it had economic implications, as neglected family planning strategies would hurdle efforts to lessen poverty incidence.

However, the Reproductive Health (RH) law has yet to be in full implementation. Even with the RH law active since 2012, the country has yet to see the rollout of comprehensive sexuality education in schools across the country. –

Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer at Rappler. Possessing the heart and soul of a feminist, she is working on specializing in women's issues in Newsbreak, Rappler's investigative arm.