The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) will focus on tackling vulnerabilities among local communities around the country, especially at this time of the Covid-19 health crisis, as the nation observes the Population Development or POPDEV Week from November 23 to 29. 

Being the lead implementer of the Philippine Population Management Program (PPMP), one of POPCOM’s tasks is to integrate POPDEV initiatives, such as integrating local population issues in development planning at the local government unit (LGU)-level. This year’s theme, “Addressing Demographic Vulnerabilities During the Pandemic,” seeks to deal with the many concerns affecting POPDEV by the spread of Covid-19 in the archipelago. 

POPCOM explained that POPDEV integration, or POPDEV, is one of the three component strategies of the Philippine Population Management Program (PPMP), where pertinent information on education, health, employment, food security and other related elements are referenced on the implementation of nationwide programs. POPDEV aims to make population information as a basis in crafting appropriate development initiatives, policies and programs in all levels of government. 

The government agency believes that POPDEV initiatives are more relevant particularly during the Covid-19 health crisis and the occurrence of destructive natural disasters such as the recent supertyphoons, as they will help local governments plan and implement their programs, with focus on communities with demographic vulnerabilities. 

POPCOM’s Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III, MD, MPH said, “The important role of POPDEV integration in uplifting lives within communities, especially in this time of the pandemic and the series of natural calamities, simply cannot be underestimated, when appropriate allocation of resources of governments is crucial.” 

POPDEV and DVT: Perez, who is also the country’s undersecretary for population and development, called on local authorities to factor-in correct population variables in the implementation of their policies, programs and solutions—more so in the time of Covid-19 and the so-called “new normal:” “This is important, so that many can benefit from and appreciate the value of POPDEV, which will enable Filipinos to rise above adversities which we are currently facing, and still reach their full potential.” 

A concrete instance of an important POPDEV initiative in effect is the current use of the Demographic Vulnerabilities Tool (DVT) of POPCOM being used by LGUs throughout the country. Available in www.popcom.gov.ph since April 2020, the DVT has been indispensable to local chief executives and community leaders in generating information on physical distancing, contact tracing for targeted tracing, as well as seniors with Covid-19 comorbidities in their community. 

This year’s POPDEV week also seeks to raise awareness on the Philippines’ reproductive health situation and other demographic concerns adversely affected by the pandemic toward improving health and social interventions through better investments and support for the PPMP. Consequently, it aims to increase collaboration among advocates and other stakeholders for family planning, adolescent health and demographic interventions, while strengthening service delivery for their beneficiaries. 

Nationwide activities: To discuss the topic in detail, POPCOM’s Central Office will devote a special episode on POPDEV for its “UsapTayosa FP with Doc Jeepy” on November 30, Monday, through its Facebook accounts @OfficialPOPCOM and @UsapTayoSaFP. Social-media campaigns with the hashtags #KilosKontraPandemya and #DoonPoSaAmin will also encourage Filipinos to share their LGUs’ activities in combatting the pandemic while uplifting the lives of their respective communities, as well as their own contributions in addressing demographic vulnerabilities. 

Regional Activities: POPCOM Region XI in coordination with Philippine Information Agency shall be guesting in a virtual press conference on November 25, 2020 at 2 pm. Social-media campaign, including POPDEV related articles and Local Chief Executives video clips shall also be uploaded in the FB page @officialpopcomregion11 during the weeklong celebration. Moreover, POPCOM Region XI will engage more partner-agencies and LGUs to a DVT Orientation to intensify localization efforts for PPMP highlighting the need for strategic responses and sustainability through adaptation of the tool.  

An annual observation toward the last week of every November via Proclamation No. 76 signed on October 20, 1992 by then-president Fidel V. Ramos, POPDEV Week highlights the need for invigorated and intensified campaigns in addressing concerns on Philippine population growth and the country’s capacity to provide for a growing nation. It emphasizes interrelationships of population issues and various sectors involved in development to raise awareness and appreciation, while drawing policy and program responses from stakeholders on POPDEV issues.