Eight out of 10 registered voters believe that candidates in the May 9 elections should include family planning in their political agenda, while nine out of 10 voters, or 86 percent, said family planning services should get public funding, the latest Pulse Asia survey indicated.
The survey results were released on Tuesday during a press briefing by the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), which sponsored the poll questions.
“The people have spoken. Candidates should prioritize family planning and ensure the full implementation of the reproductive health (RH) law,” PLCPD executive director Romeo Dongeto said of the survey conducted from Feb. 15 to 20, among 1,800 registered voters with biometrics across the country.
The survey had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2 percent. Majority of its respondents, or 83 percent, are Catholics, while the rest belong to other faiths.
Many of the voters who gave high importance to the candidates’ support for family planning were from the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) and Mindanao, and were working in the government.
Among the regions, CAR registered the highest percentage of voters who considered family planning “very important,” at 90 percent.
But voters in Ilocos province, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) believe otherwise, with 45 percent, 42 percent, 60 percent and 33 percent, respectively, giving “very high” importance to family planning, according to Pulse Asia research director Ana Maria Tabunda.
Tabunda described the results in Calabarzon as “surprising,” considering the region had the highest number of voters covered by the survey, at 14 percent.
She observed that “only one of three voters in the ARMM [considered] family planning very important, maybe because they have other important issues [in mind] like poverty, water and power supply.”
The survey also revealed that 64 percent of Filipinos considered family planning “very important,” a figure 11 percentage points higher than in 2010, Tabunda said.
Nine out of 10 Filipino voters said family planning services must get public funding as well, with CAR, Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), Northern Mindanao and Davao Region registering agreement among 60 percent of respondents.
The survey also revealed that at least 52 percent of Filipino voters agreed that youth ages 15 years and above should have access to family planning services in government facilities. The percentage of those who agreed was higher in Metro Manila and urban centers than in Mindanao and rural areas.
“This survey shows there is unanimity among Filipinos [who believe] that spacing between births, planning the family and limiting the number of children have an impact on fertility,” said Commission on Population Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez.
Perez said that fertility in the country remains high, with the average Filipino woman having one child more than she wanted.
The high public preference for family planning and government funding for such should send a strong message to national and local politicians running in the May elections, added the official.
“National officials should make sure that there is provision for family planning, while local officials should make sure that services are actually provided. It’s a working relationship between the national and the local governments to get the work done,” Perez said.
The Department of Health’s funding for birth control commodities this year was slashed by P1 billion during the bicameral conference for the General Appropriations Act. To fill the gaps created by the budget cut, the health agency was compelled to realign a portion of its budget allocation and to tap international aid.