The country should address its rapid population growth, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said, noting overpopulation hampers the nation’s ability to develop and tackle current and future challenges.
In a speech during the inauguration of rehabilitation projects at the Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport on Thursday, President Duterte said overcrowding in the country’s urban areas makes it difficult for the government to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s because there are so many Filipinos that are crammed in the urban areas. Only few are living outside. Eh nandiyan lahat eh,” he said.
“So at the very least mask o face shield for the maximum protection. But other — especially social distancing, I do not think that we can force our people really to — because it’s impossible. There are too many Filipinos in the urban areas than in the rural areas.”
The government’s inability to implement an effective family planning program resulted in rapid population growth, according to the President.
Only President Fidel Ramos, a Protestant, insisted on carrying out family planning program. The President said that like Ramos, he was also passionate in implementing such program, although it resulted in a clash with the church.
“Eh ayaw ng simbahan eh. Kaya collision course talaga and one word led to another. Sabi ko if you cannot honor the separation of state and church, then we will not be able to really to understand each other,” he said, stressing, however, that it’s not his business fighting churches.
With the country’s current population of 110 million, President Duterte hopes that his successors will take a closer look at the population issue and do something about it.
“Sabagay wala na ako. I will be freed of that worry. But you know, we’d pass it on to the generation, sobra talaga. It’s high time that we review,” he said.
“Hindi naman sa kukulangin tayo ng tao. But sana we can match the family planning programs of government at least with our GDP (gross domestic product).”
The Philippines is not rich and the changing climate now takes its toll on the nation’s productivity, the President said, adding only Mindanao has the potential.
“Dito banda sa taas, wala. It’s only Mindanao. Mindanao promises really mo — matapos lang ‘yong giyera. But that’s another matter,” he said. PND