Former Filipino President Joseph Estrada is now touring the country promoting contraceptives and family planning, despite longstanding opposition from the influential Catholic Church.
According to the Daily Women’s Health Policy Report, local advocates are openly promoting family planning on radio talk shows, and increasing efforts to distribute condoms. According to Wall Street Journal, family-planning advocates are increasing in number, and stepping up their efforts to oppose “the Vatican’s efforts to hold back the country’s economic potential.” Ernesto Pernia, an economics professor at the University of the Philippines, told the Wall Street Journal “It is time for the Philippines’ Catholic Church hierarchy to be more understanding and tolerant, as in other Catholic countries, so that the government is not impeded from providing strong family planning advice.”
The Catholic Bishops Conference on the Philippines has suggested that the chronic poverty is a result of corruption and poor economic policy. However, other groups, including the UN Population Fund, report that the high birth rate and overpopulation, perpetuated by the government’s anti-family planning policies, are partially responsible for the country’s poverty.