DARAGA, ALBAY – The Department of Agriculture showed its support to the advocacy for responsible parenthood and family planning during the World Population Day celebration on July 11, 2018, this municipality. Bannering the theme “Family Planning is a Human Right,” the whole day celebration was hosted by the Commission on Population (PopCom) Regional Office V and attended by different line agencies, non-government organizations, teen parents and media.

According to PopCom-Bicol Regional Director Magdalena Abellera, the activity aims to increase people’s awareness on various population-related issues concerning family planning, adolescent health, gender equality, education, environment and poverty.

“Population is always a factor in development. Family planning is a basic human right and couples or parents have the right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children,” she said.

She added that family planning is not considered a population control measure but a means of achieving the desired family size, improving the health of the mother and the child, and regulating fertility to give them more time to recover and space pregnancies.

In her message, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Director Agnes Tolentino underscored that population could be both a boon and bane depending on the quality of a country’s population. She also cited the need to support human capital development, as emphasized in the Philippine Human Development Plan. Meanwhile, Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal accentuates that population control is part of governance.

Czarina Mae Cantorne, Information Officer I of the Commission on Human Rights in Bicol, Dave Isidore Plopinio, Nurse V of the Department of Health Regional Office V, and Commissioner Cristita C. Triunfante of the Philippine Commission on Women shared updates and insights on family planning as a human right.

The discussion centered on relevant laws and guidelines on reproductive rights particularly the Republic Act No. 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012. It also highlights persistent gender issues in women’s health and rights and the nine standards to uphold the human right to family planning namely non-discrimination, available, accessible, acceptable, good quality, informed decision-making, privacy and confidentiality, participation and accountability.

“Collective action is necessary to correct disparities and achieve an inclusive world where no one is left behind,” Triunfante said.

Plopinio, on the other hand, advocated family planning by choice not by chance. He also elaborated the four guiding principles of family planning: responsible parenthood, respect for life, birth spacing and informed choice.

“Until family planning is a universally available choice, this human right will not be fully realized,” he said.

The World Population Day Forum also featured a Teen Parents Trail, a communication campaign to avoid repeat pregnancies, encourage teen parents to reach educational and work goals and prevent gender-based violence.

According to the 1998-2017 National Demographic and Health Survey, Bicol has an increasing contraceptive prevalence rate of 49.95 percent.

World Population Day, an annual event established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme, is being observed annually on July 11 to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues. It is an outgrowth of the public interest generated by the Five Billion Day on July 11, 1987, the approximate date on which the global population reached five billion people.

The DA Regional Executive Director is a member of the Regional Population Executive Board. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-RAFIS V)