By MERCEDES B. SULEIK
MANILA, Philippines – The Reproductive Health Bill is not what it purports to be. It is not about reproductive health rights. It is not about women’s maternal health. It is not about preventing infant mortality. It is not about responsible parenthood. Nor is it about poverty alleviation.
The RH Bill is in fact a tyranny of half-truths. This Bill, which has gone through so many permutations and attempts to be passed, is a melange of obfuscations and inadequate information.
Efforts to ram it down our throats through apparently tainted media coverage, through surveys that ask leading questions, and through taking advantage of general ignorance of the substance of the bill, not to mention apathy of fence-sitters, is perhaps the reason why it is vaunted that the RH Bill is the best thing that could ever happen to the Filipino family and nation.
Let’s start by considering the premise on which this bill rests. An early title of the bill said “Reproductive Health and Population Development Act,” which in its present “consolidated form” now has been revised to include “Responsible Parenthood” in the title, hijacking this very proper term to dissimulate and thus appear to indeed be for everyone’s good! Its view of development is very narrow, averring that the Philippines is overpopulated, and only by lowering the birth and fertility rates will this country finally burst out of its mire, and alleluia! We become a first world country!
In the first place, the Malthusian (and its other manifestations) population argument has already been shot to pieces, with most of the developed world in fact facing a demographic winter, threatening the prospects of these economies over the long term. Picking up a quotation from an article by former Secretary of Finance Roberto de Ocampo, he said that according to some researches, “in order for a culture to maintain itself for more than 25 years, there must be a fertility rate of 2.11 children per family. With anything less, the culture will decline. Historically, no culture has ever reversed a 1.9 fertility rate.” Is this what we want for the Philippines?
Regarding its claim to provide the “right to complete information” particularly about contraceptive options: the advocates completely forget to inform women about the health risks of hormonal contraceptives. The World Health Organization itself has classified these as bringing about the risks of cancer, particularly breast cancer, in their WHO/IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) Report wherein it was found that hormonal contraceptives do cause cancer. At least, let the women know the risks!
It’s the same with other contraceptive devices, such as the condom. It has been found that these do not prevent pregnancy from occurring, nor has it been proven that it protects against AIDS. Moreover, failure of contraception eventually leads to abortion, which while it is claimed that the bill has taken note of the fact that abortion is illegal, the effect of failed contraceptions is an implicit support of abortion.
Another obfuscatory provision hidden in the bill are the punitive sanctions that are, if truth be told, attempts to curtail the Filipino’s civil liberties: obligatory requirements for medical health practitioners to actively promote artificial birth control without regard for their consciential rights, for example, if they in conscience cannot do it themselves, they are obliged to refer to someone else who don’t have the same misgivings. And hey, there are even sanctions for “criticizing” the bill (if passed).
The bill, while pretending to be for the benefit of the Filipino and the family, overreaches itself. Why is it taking over areas best left to the decision of the Filipino married couple, such as whether they want to have children or not, such as their right to educate their children on matters related to sex and morality. The State should govern, and not meddle in the Filipino individual’s decision.
A key principle in corporate governance is that the Board should govern, and let Management take care of the micro aspects of business.
Another hidden provision is to consider contraceptives as “essential medicines,” which effectively means that there is no need for bidding nor for COA restrictions. As far as I know, no other medicine has been declared “essential”…(and I do have a quarrel with calling contraceptives as “medicine” because pregnancy is not a disease!) This provision thus leads to the use of tax money on what many citizens consider offensive to their beliefs – is this not a devious way of allocating money which have been paid into the government’s coffers by a majority of Christian taxpayers?
Let me repeat. The RH bill is not about reproductive health. It is not about giving women a choice. It is not about poverty alleviation. It is not about the Filipino and his family. It is about state control.
2. Overpopulation making RP poorer – ECOP
Five million Filipinos now unemployed
By JENNY F. MANONGDO
July 16, 2005, 8:00am
The Philippines is poor because of its increasing population.
Atty. Vicente Leogardo Jr. director-general of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP), said that the country is lagging behind Asian neighbors due to the increasing population.
Leogardo said that the current unemployment rate is at 11.2 percent which translates to five million individuals who are unemployed.
“Whatever economic growth we make every year is eaten up with the entry of new labor force,” Leogardo said.
The Philippines is the 13th most populous country in the world and third among Southeast Asian counterparts, the Commission on Population (PopCom) said during the celebration of the World Population day last week.
With an annual growth rate of 2.36 percent, the total population size of Filipinos is now estimated at 85.2 million.
ECoP yesterday vowed to support population programs in the country by coming up with their own set of activities meant to assist every member in providing key reproductive health and family planning services to their workers.
In a press briefing yesterday in Intramuros, Manila, ECoP members recognized the burgeoning population problem as a culprit in the poor economic development of the country.
Leogardo explained that last year, there were about 1.2 million new job entrants for only 900,000 jobs created.
ECoP is extending technical and financial assistance to its members by training their clinician staff and human resource officers in providing counseling services to their workers particularly on the issue of reproductive health and family planning as well as in violence against women, sexual harassment and sexually transmitted infections among other topics.
“When the private sector will not address the population problem, the Philippines will not go on in terms of economic development,” Atty. Rene Soriano, ECoP president said.
ECoP is currently developing modules for reproductive health learning sessions on male involvement since 68 percent of the workforce is comprised of males, ECoP said.
ECOP came up with their support for family planning programs after a survey of collective bargaining agreements done in 2003. The survey found that 69 percent of organized labor unions demand family planning programs in the workplace.
By Fr. Emeterio E Barcelon
March 5, 2004, 8:00am
DO we have too many people for our own good? Are there too many babies born and not enough people dying off because of good medicine so that the land can no longer support them? In a post-agricultural era, population per square kilometer is no longer relevant. In many nations like the US and Europe, over 90 percent of the people now live in cities where they had at least 50 percent in farms 50 years ago. The surprise is that even the Philippines is now 60 percent urbanized. The next question is how well we take care of our people in livelihood opportunities, in education, in health and in preserving our culture and in giving them an opportunity to praise, thank and love God and to serve and love their neighbor.
Mr. Salvador Rigor, Jr. of San Carlos, Negros Occidendal writes clearly cogent arguments and quotes statistics from the United Nations Population division that the population explosion in this country has ended. (Exact source is not as yet been provided.)
Herewith a write-up of the true picture of the Philippine population:
1. The annual population growth rate is 1.61 percent not 2.36 percent carelessly mentioned by some authors.
2. The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) – the total number of births per woman is 2.93, down from 7.29 births per woman 50 years ago. This is expected to go below replacement level of 2.10 in 2012, only nine years from now. The TFR is projected to go down even further to 1.85 by 2015, much below population replacement level.
3. The total number of births per year has started to decline from 2.048 in 2000 to 1.849 million now or an annual drop of around 200,000 births.
4. Due to the worldwide phenomenon of urbanization around 48 million people now live in urban areas compared to 5 million in 1950 leading to the squatter problem and the perception of too many people. This movement to urban areas will continue and cause increases in city populations though not necessarily of the country.
5) The real danger is not population explosion but population implosion with the resulting ageing of population and even to population decline which is now happening in at least 87 countries in the world. An ageing population and population decline disrupt economic progress in a country.
6) The population density of the Philippines is 252 persons per square kilometer. Japan with 336 and Singapore with 6,499 are encouraging citizens to have more babies because of demographic winter and declining population which are destructive to their economy.
Singapore previously had a motto of “Stop at Two,” referring to the biggest number of babies which a couple should have. It is now replaced with the motto “At Least Three.”
What these two countries are finding out is that it is very difficult to change a contraceptive mentality and a culture of death which bring about a small family mindset. Thus, their efforts at increasing their population is not succeeding.’’
In our “damaged culture” we still have a lot to do. We need to promote peace and order, to rid ourselves of destructive rivalry, provide jobs for a decent living but in the end, we still produce a happy people. We may still not identify with the nation but with linguistic groups yet we sacrifice like heck for the family, an institution which is under serious attack. It does not depend on our leaders alone but on all to keep those family values that make us a happy people. (My niece Anita was murdered by burglars in Las Piñas this week while Paul her husband is trying to make a living in Saudi. Your prayers requested for them.)