USAID Pushes Social Marketing of Contraceptives in Philippines

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

MANILA, September 2, 2010 ( - The Philippine government is implementing a new marketing scheme developed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to push contraceptives on the largely Catholic population of the country.

The “May Plano Ako (I Have Plans)" program was put together by USAID's Health Promotion and Communication Project Health (PRO) and endorsed by the Department of Health (DoH) and Health Secretary Enrique Ona, according to Dr. Ivanhoe Escartin, head of the Philippine National Center for Health Promotion (NCHP).

HealthPRO and the National Center for Health Promotion plan to use “strategic communication to enhance family planning and maintain behavior change among targeted market segments in the Philippines.”

Methodology to market contraceptives to the population includes the training of 1,300 nurses and over 5,000 "village health workers" to sell the contraceptive mentality by means of “interpersonal communication and counseling on family planning, and maternal and child health.”

“The strategy builds on the understanding that encouraging individuals or couples to use family planning is a process, involving distinct audiences that need different messages and approaches,” the NCHP's strategy paper titled “Family Planning Behavior Change Communication Strategy” states.

“Information alone is not enough to bring about behavior change among any audience. Instead, the strategy is based on a multilevel, synchronized and holistic marketing approach to family planning,” the document says, with a focus on "increasing modern contraceptive use through demand generation," and "repackaging or selling the concept of family planning as a lifestyle that contributes to better quality of life."

However, pro-life and pro-family advocates, as well as the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), point to the
devastation caused by the promotion of artificial birth control, abortifacient contraceptives, abortion, sterilization, and sex

Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, has said, "The subtle attacks on
family and conjugal morality through legislations that promote artificial methods of birth control are couched in attractive but
deceptive terminologies like Reproductive Health Care, population management, anti-discrimination of women and children, reproductive rights and patients' rights." He also pointed out that poverty is not caused by overpopulation, but by misuse of public funds.

Dr. Rene Bullecer, Human Life International's Country Director for the Philippines, pointed out that "the US Government through USAID finds it now very easy to push their anti-life agenda to the Philippines with minimal pressure for the reason that the current Filipino administration under President Aquino is a known ally of President Obama, and a pro-choice advocate himself."

Dr. Bullecer noted that during a recent interview he posed the question: "after 36 years of US-initiated population control programs (from 1974 to present), are you now ecomomically well-off? Or can we say now that we are richer or more stable than 30 or 20 years ago? The answer is no. So why allow ourselves to be dictated to by a foreign nation whose main goal is to destroy or culture, our faith and families?"

"I could not imagine how many hundreds of thousands of women died in the last 3 decades before reaching the age of 65 as a result of the untold complications of IUDs, injectables and OCPs, which includes heart attack, hypertension, liver cancers, breast and cervical cancers among others," Dr. Bullecer said.

As a counterstroke to USAID's contraceptives marketing plan, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines is promoting natural family planning (NFP) methods as an alternative to the artificial contraceptive methods advocated by the government's reproductive health bill.

The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro has launched an NFP public awareness campaign with the introduction of two books.

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma said the first book, titled “Natural Family Planning: Values, Issues and Practices,” which contains a compilation of articles about the issue of NFP, "gives the values formation of the Church and also simplified methods like the standard days method.” The other publication, he added, is the trainer's manual aimed at “teaching NFP for potential trainers and counsel providers.”

Ana Leah Pealago, an NFP coordinator, said the books are products of the archdiocese’s three-year NFP program.

“We found that almost 3,000 couples (in our diocese) are now users of NFP. There’s a growing number of people that are really interested in promoting this,” Pealago said in a CBCP press release.

See related LSN articles:

Philippines in Struggle Against Abortionist Population Control Initiative

Philippine Bishops to Create Pro-Life, Pro-Family Coalition of Lay Groups to Support Politicians

Filipino Bishops: "Condoms and Irresponsible Sex Increases Spread of AIDS"

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