1968 – The government starts to participate in population and family planning efforts by creating the Project Office for Maternal and Child Health in the Department of Health to coordinate family planning activities.32 Population biologist Paul Ehrlich’s Population Bomb is published, wherein he predicts a widespread catastrophe of resource depletion, mass starvation and environmental collapse due to overpopulation.33 Reproductive rights, including the right to abortion, begins to develop as a subset of human rights at the United Nation’s 1968 International Conference on Human Rights.34
1969 – Philippine Population Program is officially launched through Executive Order No. 233, creating a study group known as the Population Commission (POPCOM). POPCOM is mandated to undertake population studies and to serve as central coordinating and policy-making body, make program recommendations on population as they relate to economic and social development. Its goal: to lower family size and fertility rates. The secretary of justice liberalizes the interpretation of an existing ruling to permit the importation of contraceptives. USAID starts funding 80% of contraceptives in the Philippines, amounting to US$ 3M/year (through 2003).35 President Marcos pushes for a systematic distribution of contraceptives all over the country that often took on a coercive nature.36 The Family Planning Association of the Philippines and the Planned Parenthood Movement in the Philippines are merged to form the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP).37 In November FPOP becomes a full-fledged member of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).38 Congress approves a resolution to establish basic policies aimed at achieving economic development and social justice. The Catholic bishops issue a statement disagreeing with the government’s intervention in couples’ fertility decisions and objecting to the promotion of family limitation as a measure to reduce population growth.39
1970 – First Earth Day. Peaceful demonstrations reflect environmental concerns, promotion of the idea that “population pollutes.”40
Early 1970’s – Planned Parenthood International comes to the Philippines, working with local partner organizations to increase the provision of comprehensive reproductive health care services, including the provision (through illegal smuggling) of menstrual regulation kits used for abortion.41, 42
1971 – Republic Act 6365 aka Population Act of the Philippines is enacted into law by Congress. It establishes the national population policy and creates the national agency in charge of population, the Commission on Population (POPCOM). President Marcos instructs the Department of Health to add family planning services to all of its 1400 rural health units. By 1973, 1070 rural health units are offering family planning services.43
1972 – President Ferdinand Marcos declares martial law. The Population Center Foundation is set up to forge a stronger partnership between the government and the private sector. Presidential Decree No. 79 revises Republic Act 6365, authorizing nurses and midwives, in addition to physicians, to provide, dispense, and administer all acceptable methods of contraception to those who desire to avail themselves of such services as long as these health workers have been trained and properly authorized by the POPCOM board.44 It directs the National Family Planning Program to respect the religious beliefs and values of individuals.45 The Population Education Program is established within the Department of Education Culture to provide instruction in population education for elementary and high school children by training teachers to develop curriculum materials. General Order No. 18 enjoins all sectors to promote the concept of family planning and responsible parenthood. Letter of Instruction No. 74 A directs the secretary of the Department of Public Information and the postmaster general to help implement the POPCOM board programs by disseminating information on family planning.46
1973 – Philippine Constitution expresses government commitment to deal with the “problem” of rapid population growth. It provides: “It should be the responsibility of the state to achieve and maintain population levels most conducive to the national welfare.”47 Presidential Decree No. 69 amends the National Internal Revenue Code to reduce the number of children for which additional tax exemptions can be claimed from an unlimited number of children to four. Decentralization of the Population Program starts with the establishment of 11 POPCOM regional offices. Presidential Decree No. 166 appoints two members from the private sector to the POPCOM board for three-year terms. A Department of Justice ruling permits sterilization. The Catholic hierarchy issues a pastoral letter on the population problem and family life. The letter objects to the use of artificial contraceptives to solve the population problem and notes that the government reneged on its earlier pledge not to encourage sterilization.48 Population Center Foundation (PCF, now PCPD) is established and starts operations to serve as a resource institution for the population program in the Philippines as its purpose, by “managing the growth of the country’s population through fertility reduction or family planning.”49 In the US, Supreme Court Decision Roe v. Wade strikes down many state laws restricting abortion.50
32 Robinson 279.
33 Shrivastava, Aseem. “Overpopulation: The Great Red Herring.” Economic and Political Weekly 27.38 (1992): 2032-038. Print.
34 Momtaz, Djamchid. Proclamation of Teheran. Summary of Proc. of International Conference on Human Rights, Teheran. 1968. United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law. Web. 31 May 2011.
35 Promoting Reproductive Health: A Unified Strategy to Achieve the MDGs. Senate of the Philippines Economic Planning Office. July 2009. PB-09-03.
36 Antonio de los Reyes (2002). “Coercive Population Ploys in the Philippines”. Population Research Institute.
37 Robinson 279.
39 Robinson 279.
40 “Sustainable Development » Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.” Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. Web. 01 June 2011. <http://www.c-fam.org/publications/id.174/default.asp>.
41 “Philippines Country Program – Planned Parenthood.” Sexual & Reproductive Health – Sex Education – Planned Parenthood. Web. 01 June 2011. <http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/international-program/philippines-country-program-19029.htm>.
42 Warwick, Donald P. “Foreign Aid for Abortion.” The Hastings Center 10.2 (1980): 30-37. Print.
46 Robinson 279-280.
48 Robinson 280.
50 “Roe v. Wade.” LII | Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School. 13 Dec. 1971. Web. 01 June 2011. <http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0410_0113_ZS.html>.