Monday, December 6, 2010
OVERPOPULATION - A CONVENIENT LIE
by Leonardo Q. Montemayor
(Mr. Montemayor is the President of the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) and Party-List ABA (Alyansang Bayanihan ng mga Magsasaka, Manggagawang-Bukid at Mangingisda). Mr. Montemayor served as Agriculture Secretary in 2001-2002 and Party-List Representative in the Fourteenth Congress. The following is the FFF/ABA position paper, entitled " : A Convenient Lie". This is an improved version of his oral testimony at the House Committee on Population and Family Relations hearing last month. )
The so-called problem of overpopulation is a convenient falsehood being peddled by rich countries to cover up their injustices against, and to shirk from their obligations to, developing nations.
Last year, Ambassador Alistair MacDonald of the European Union expressed support for continued assistance to the Philippines, on the condition that our government undertakes comprehensive population control. At present, some 60% of existing EU aid for the Philippines is devoted to population management-related programs.
Mr. MacDonald could have mollified the anger felt by self-respecting Filipinos had he also underscored the urgent need for greater consumption control by citizens of EU states. The truth is that many advocates of population control, under the cloak of “reproductive health” and “family planning”, are concerned not so much to save lives, as to prevent them. This would mean less pressure from developing nations to clamor for a fairer distribution of global wealth and a stop to the profligate consumption of finite resources by the developed states.
If RH and population control advocates truly desire to safeguard the welfare of mothers and family members, they should accord the highest priority to fund generation and genuine anti-poverty programs through effective socio-economic reforms, balanced agro-industrial development and good governance.
But where are their calls on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries to comply with their international obligation to allocate 0.7 per cent of their gross national product for the economic development of the Third World?
Where is the leadership of the United States and others mainly responsible for global warming that has been disrupting climate, food security and health, especially in developing nations?
Poverty, unemployment and hunger are most severe in rural areas. Yet, developing countries cannot progress, because the unfair trade practices of the EU and other OECD member-countries are forcing increasing numbers of desperate farmers and fisher folk to degrade their local environments just to survive the day. Yearly, trade-distorting agricultural subsidies of the OECD drain their public treasuries
of about US $300 billion, which is three times the amount of OECD’s “foreign aid” to developing countries.
Moreover, why isn’t there a stronger push for the meaningful settlement of Third World debt, so that countries like the Philippines can free up hundreds of billions of pesos for badly needed schools, health services and food production-related infrastructure , among others, and thus register huge advances against poverty, hunger, ignorance and disease?
Instead, the Filipino people - particularly the poor - are being seduced with condoms, pills and intrauterine devices (at a cost of billions to their already cash-strapped government) as “essential medicine” that will improve their “quality of life”!
Our Constitution commands the State to protect the life of the unborn from the moment of conception. The 1986 Constitutional Commission records clearly show that ”conception” starts from the union of the male sperm and the female egg in the mother. Hence, pills, IUDs and contraceptives that kill the living, fertilized egg are abortifacients.
Pro-RH bill advocates insist that they oppose abortion. However, many of them claim that medical science is divided on when life begins. Assuming arguendo that this is so, every Filipino remains obligated to follow the Constitution. And, why can’t we give the fertilized ovum the benefit of the doubt by protecting it? We are told that a reproductive health law is crucial to ensuring maternal health, inasmuch as eleven mothers die daily from complications arising from pregnancy. The hidden message is: no pregnancy, no death. Ergo, distributing state-subsidized contraception is the easy way to maternal/reproductive health! (Incidentally, shouldn’t maternal health concerns include the prevention of cancer, high blood pressure and other known adverse effects of birth control pills and devices on their users?)
Surprisingly, defenders of women’s “empowerment” have not batted an eyelash against the Department of Health’s acknowledged goal of two million ligated or sterilized women by 2015.
According to the DOH, the procedure will cost P1,500 if performed in a government facility. (Under pending RH legislation, for poor patients, the full cost will covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and/or government public assistance.)
Large-scale ligation will supposedly promote reproductive health and respect for each woman’s “inherent right over her own body”. But, by crippling a woman’s God-given capacity to create life, aren’t we destroying the essence of her mother/person hood and her dignity?
Incidentally, the DOH’s plan is discriminatory. Only 30,000 men have been targeted for genital invasion through vasectomy by 2015, although the procedure costs much less - P500.
Mass sterilization of women and men – the most “cost-effective” final solution in the war on poverty?
Our friends in the RH camp say that they want principally to help “couples, parents and individuals” (married, we hope, as the Philippine Constitution recognizes marriage and the family as the bedrock of society) to achieve their desired family size. But they should realize that the State has no business to even suggest the desirable number of children. Otherwise, the State would infringe on the fundamental rights of spouses and parents, and go against deeply held Filipino values that children are our “wealth” and not our “liabilities”.
Respected demographers warn that a two-child policy will hasten the decline and dying-out of the Philippine population starting around 2020, and undermine the viability of our economy and social security systems. Ironically, several RH bills pending in Congress seek to establish two as the ideal number of offspring.
We must therefore guard against efforts by national, local and foreign governments to foist a radical depopulation policy. This will be attempted through provisions in the RH bills requiring, among others, sexuality education for youth aged 10-19, easier access to affordable or birth control services, sanctions against uncooperative health providers. Ongoing and proposed programs, such as the Conditional Cash Transfer undertaking of the Department of Social Welfare and Development should also be monitored closely.
A pell-mell rush into a “contraceptive society” will trigger a tectonic shift and create dangerous fissures in our family mores and relationships. There will be profound and damaging consequences on the stability and character of our economic, social, political, cultural and religious institutions.
Hopefully, we and our lawmakers will give adequate consideration to the far-reaching implications of the RH and Population and Development bills, and REJECT them.