MANILA – The Commission of Population and Development (POPCOM) seeks to maintain the country’s population growth rate at 1 percent, vowing to pursue its initiated programs and advocacies under the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

POPCOM Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III said they are set to push more programs relating to Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning (RPFP), Adolescent Health and Youth Development (AHYD), and the Zero Hunger.

The RPFP, he said, must be continued especially now while the country's population growth is stable.

"Hindi na masyadong lumalaki ang rate of growth ng population (The population's rate of growth is not growing too much). We want to maintain it at around 1 percent," Perez said in the Laging Handa briefing on Wednesday.

To do that, Perez said, the national government's family planning program that covers 8 to 9 million Filipinos should be maintained with stronger collaboration between POPCOM and other agencies like the Department of Health (DOH) and the local government units (LGUs).

He also stressed the need to address, through AHYD, the high adolescent or teen pregnancy which reached an average of around 150,000 per year.

"So, gagawin naming pambansang programa ito, lalo na iyong (we will make this a national program especially the) social protection ng (of) adolescent mother and their children, starting next year, katulong ang (with the help of) DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development]," Perez said.

They are planning to implement a special program to reduce the population poverty below 10 percent with the help of several POPCOM Board members.

"We need to address iyong developmental issue na iyong trabaho para sa kabataan, trabaho para sa kababaihan, at isang malaking bagay iyong pag-shift sana natin (that the job for the youth, job for the women, and that is a big thing that we hopefully shift) from minimum wage to living wage. Ibig sabihin, binibigyang konsiderasyon iyong poverty level sa iba’t ibang rehiyon sa Pilipinas (It means, the poverty level in different regions of the Philippines is being considered),” Perez added.

As a part of the Zero Hunger Task Force of the government, Perez said POPCOM will make sure that food-producing families will be given enough services.

"Kasi nakikita natin [na] mismong mga producer ng food ay nagugutom din kung malaki ang pamilya nila, kung wala silang (Because we can see that even producers of food are getting hungry if they have a big family, if they have no) access sa (in) Reproductive Health and Family Planning, and health services in general," he said.

Calling it pillars of POPCOM’s Philippine Population Development Program, the three programs, he said, will be presented in the first meeting of Board of Commissioners on August 30 so it can be renewed and endorsed to President Marcos to become an Executive Order.

The country's population policy, Perez recalled, was created during the time of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. in 1969 and needs to be reviewed and improved after 50 years. (PNA)