Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) Health Department officials said that the government will not endorse using condoms to stop the galloping birthrate. The Philippines, with a population of 84 million people, has a population growth rate of 2.3 per cent, one of the highest in the world.
Filipino President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said last year that she intends to bring the rate down to 1.9 per cent but did not explain how this would be done.
Business groups and economists have warned that the growing population poses major risks to the country but Ms Arroyo, a devout Catholic, has basically refused to endorse artificial contraceptives. Her government has instead opted for a policy "of natural family development".
The Catholic Church has repeatedly stated that its position is to "defend life" and insisted that poverty is rooted in bad government, corruption and mismanagement of the national economy.
Although acknowledging that condoms prevent the spread of AIDS, Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit said that the government's population control programme was separate from its AIDS prevention programme. For this reason, condom distribution was left to non-governmental groups.
For the Catholic Church, the best way to prevent AIDS is chastity and conjugal fidelity.
Currently, more than two thousand people are confirmed to have contracted the AIDS virus but experts warn that the actual figure could go much higher.