THE Commission on Population and Development (Popcom) will recommend lower prices for modern contraceptives as the peso continues to depreciate against the dollar.

Popcom executive director and undersecretary Juan Antonio A. Perez III told BusinessMirror that all modern contraceptives in the country come from other countries.

Perez said the depreciation of the peso could make contraceptives more expensive for the Philippines. This, he feared, would lead to an “undersupply” of these products, which could undermine programs to prevent unwanted pregnancies, as well as teenage pregnancies.

“All modern artificial contraceptives are sourced from outside the country and the peso-dollar exchange rate, coupled with inflation, could result in undersupply relative to program needs and lead to more unwanted pregnancies and/or unplanned,” Perez told BusinessMirror.

He added that officials from PopComm, the National Economic Development Authority and the Tariff Commission would sit down and discuss “the possibility of expanding the current program to reduce tariffs on contraceptives in the interest of PF”. [family planning] users in the country.

Based on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) “Harmonized Tariff Schedule 2017”, chemical contraceptive preparations – which include birth control pills – and contraceptive sheaths – which include condoms – are subject to a tariff of 3%.

However, under the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement, these contraceptive products are exempt from customs duties. This means that no duty is levied when importing these products.

Duties, VAT

DATA from the Bureau of Customs last May showed that the dutiable value of these imports reached $1.494 million. Using an exchange rate of approximately P52 to the dollar, based on BOC calculations, these shipments were equivalent to P78.148 million.

The total duty and value added tax paid to import these contraceptives was 9.665 million pesos. All these shipments were duty free under ASEAN-India Free Trade Area, ASEAN-China Free Trade Area and ASEAN Free Trade Area.

However, two shipments involving Marvelon pills and Mirena IUDs (intrauterine devices) were charged with rates worth 234,003.75 pesos. The total VAT paid for all shipments, including pills and IUDs, reached 9.431 million pesos.

Based on the “Annual Report on the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act 2012” released last year, decreasing contraceptive use by about 1 and 3 percentage points could result in 47,000 to 359,000 additional unintended pregnancies in 2021 compared to the baseline 2.1 million. unwanted pregnancies in 2020.

It will also lead to 11,000 to 84,000 unsafe abortions for the baseline of 496,000 unsafe abortions as well as 30 to 200 additional maternal deaths for the baseline of 2,300 maternal deaths.

Baby boom

CITING a study conducted by the Population Institute of the University of the Philippines and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Popcom said that projections showed that approximately 600,000 Filipino women would not have access contraceptives available at public health clinics and hospitals due to closures. .

“This situation could lead to a baby boom where nearly 2 million newborns are expected to be born in 2021 due to the additional 250,000 babies caused by movement restrictions across the country,” the report said.

According to UNFPA’s “State of World Population Report 2022”, more than half (51%) of pregnancies in the Philippines are unintended.

The Philippines ranks 56th out of 150 countries in terms of the annual number of unintended pregnancies at 71 per 1,000 women.

However, Perez said that during the lockdown period, the country was able to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. This is mainly due to the reduction in the number of births.

Perez estimated that the country was able to prevent 200,000 unwanted pregnancies. He attributed this to the efforts of local government units, especially health workers who were willing to provide services during the lockdowns.