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Population Control

Popcom was the government agency with primary responsibility for controlling population growth. In 1985 Popcom set a target for reducing the growth rate to 1 percent by 2000. To reach that goal in the 1990s, Popcom recommended that families have a maximum of two children, that they space the birth of children at three-year intervals, and that women delay marriage to age twenty-three and men to age twenty-five.

During the Marcos regime (1965-86), there was a rather uneasy accommodation between the Catholic hierarchy and the government population control program. Bishops served on Popcom, and the rhythm method was included by clinics as a birth-control method about which they could give information. A few Catholic priests, notably Frank Lynch, even called for energetic support of population limitation.

The fall of Marcos coincided with a general rise of skepticism about the relation between population growth and economic development. It became common to state that exploitation, rather than population pressure, was the cause of poverty. The bishops withdrew from the Popcom board, opposed an effort to reduce the number of children counted as dependents for tax purposes, secured the removal of the population-planning clause from the draft of the Constitution, and attempted to end government population programs. Attacks on the government population program were defeated, and efforts to popularize family planning, along with the provision of contraceptive materials, continued. In the early 1990s, however, the program generally lacked the firm government support needed to make it effective.

Data as of June 1991