January 5, 2016
The Commission on Population projects that the country’s population will balloon to 104 million this year. This means an increase in the demand for basic needs, such as food and nutrition, health services, housing, and protection against violence and emerging threats like climate change.
The country is lagging behind its goals to end hunger and undernutrition. According to the Social Weather Stations, 3.5 million Filipinos experienced hunger in the third quarter of 2015. The Food and Nutrition Research Institute reported in 2013 that one in ten Filipino adults suffer from chronic energy deficiency, while 19.9% of children aged 0-5 years are underweight. With more mouths to feed in 2016, the challenge to eradicate hunger and undernutrition becomes even bigger.
Ensuring babies’ health and nutrition does not only require providing proper and sufficient nourishment once they are born but also even before they come out to the world. Expecting mothers should thus be provided adequate information and healthcare.
Access to information and services on family planning also prepares couples to become responsible parents. The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law was enacted in 2012 and yet there remains a lot of challenges in its implementation.
Aside from food and health, people need adequate housing. As natural disasters grow more extreme due to climate change and threaten to displace growing communities, providing adequate housing to vulnerable families becomes more urgent. Adequate housing is not just about resilient structures to live in, but shelters with access to basic utilities, sustainable livelihood and essential services such as healthcare and education.
The 1.5 million babies to be born in 2016 also ought to live and grow in a peaceful surrounding. Children are among the most vulnerable sectors in armed conflict and often victims of domestic violence. If raised in an environment of conflict and violence, these children may become agents of violence themselves, continuing the vicious cycle that has shaped their parents.
The challenge to address these growing needs lies primarily in the government. As the country reaffirms its commitment to building a prosperous and peaceful world via the Sustainable Development Goals, the government must take all necessary measures to eliminate the root causes of poverty and hunger, conflict and violence.
The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development thus urges the government to step up efforts to meet the increasing demands and ensure that all people are provided their basic needs to lead productive lives.
It takes however the cooperation of all stakeholders, especially the people themselves, to achieve our goals. The 2016 elections open an opportunity for the people to elect leaders who will take on the challenge and hold them accountable in each step of the struggle to build a brighter future for all Filipinos.