Greater Manila's population will explode to 30 million by 2025, making it the world's second-largest urban area after the Japanese capital Tokyo.
Population Commission deputy executive director Rosalinda Marcelino told The Straits Times in an interview yesterday that the population in Greater Manila - a 5,000 sq km urban sprawl that covers Metro Manila's 17 cities and towns and the surrounding suburbs - is growing at 2 per cent a year, at pace with the national average.
At that rate, Greater, or urban, Manila will see its population expand from 22.5 million in 2010, when the last official census was taken, to 30 million by 2025.
Unabated urban migration and inadequate family planning programmes are fuelling that growth.
Each day, 1,700 people move to the capital city.
With the inflow, Metro Manila, the capital region that forms the core of Greater Manila, will see its population balloon to 16.3 million in 2025 from 11.85 million in 2010.
The population of the Philippines as a whole, meanwhile, will breach 100 million and grow to 107 million in 2025 from 97 million in 2010, making it the world's 12th most populous nation.
But among the world's metropolitan areas, only Tokyo - with 36.4 million people - will be more populated than urban Manila by 2025. By then, its population will be larger than that of Mumbai (26.6 million), Dhaka (22 million), Sao Paulo (21.4 million), New York (20.6 million) and Shanghai (19.4 million).
Marcelino said the government is seeking to reduce the fertility rate to two children per family from the national average of three children now.
She said a "two-child policy" similar to China's "one-child policy" will be ideal, but it will be seen as "coercive" in the Philippines.
"The population should not necessarily be controlled, but it should be managed, according to the government's resources and capacities," she said.
"The idea of controlling the population may be interpreted as coercive, and that's not the policy of the government."
A new law that allows the government to subsidise contraceptives, fertility controls and maternal care is meant to slow down population growth.
But the Catholic Church, which wields considerable influence in a nation where nine in 10 are Catholics, has been lobbying officials to withhold implementation of the law, saying it promotes abortion and promiscuity.
Marcelino said the infrastructure and the government's ability to deliver basic services are already straining under the weight of Manila's huge population.
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies estimates that one in three inhabitants of Metro Manila still lives in shanty towns, a figure that has remained unchanged for years.
Also, with 2.3 million vehicles spread over an area the size of Singapore, the capital region's population has had to deal with horrendous traffic every day.
Estimates peg the cost of road congestion to productivity and lost business opportunities at 140 billion pesos (US$3.22 billion).
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