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‘Pro-RH’ may have won the battle, but ‘Anti-RH’ won the war

Pro and Anti RH are misnomers in identifying the two sides of the conflict. Reproductive health is good and wanted by everyone. It is a point for unity. The point of difference is the word “bill.”

The damning aspect of the RH bill is about how and why it was pushed to become a law. Legislators who are known to enrich themselves through pork barrel became the champions of women and the poor. It was bizarre to match the words they spoke with their SUVs parked outside.

This bill went the way of other bills through chicanery and stealth under the baton of the President committed to the world agenda for depopulation among developing countries including the Philippines.

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The specificity of the Philippines is an important consideration that should have unified the country behind reproductive health. But it was ignored because it went against received opinions that this was a fight between church and state.

The majority of Filipinos may be Catholics but religion is not the only reason why they are against the bill. Many Catholic women take contraceptives. So accusations that those against the bill are medieval because it is time that we separate church from state are just not true. The issues against the bill by many liberal Catholics are secular.

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Moreover, we do not need the bill because there are laws that govern reproductive health except that these are so poorly implemented as to be non-existent. A new law will not alter the incompetence and mismanagement of our resources.

Something else is fueling this government’s drive to pass the bill. The agenda for depopulation may have funds to dole out but a law was needed so our own government can be seen to be spending for it (through the taxation of Catholics and non-Catholics).

My objections can be summed up in the freedom to choose by the individual on one level and the freedom and sovereignty of a nation to chart its course on another level. The bill does not need to state it will use coercion. It will simply change the social and moral environment.

The Philippines should not be forced to fall in line with what developed nations perceive as the answer to world population problems without regard to the context of the Philippines or any other developing nation for that matter.

“The church versus state in the debate was an exercise in the use of straw men fallacies. The issue boils down to jobs and taxation without consent — not the separation of church and state. Ala na Pinoys have lost moral ascendancy in the issue of corruption and plunder because Pinoys themselves are now parties to corruption and plunder,” posts the Anti-Pinoy blog.

As far as the Church in the Philippines is concerned I would be surprised if it did not defend its teachings. That is its prerogative. It is politically powerful because of our history. Incidentally that power made Edsa possible.

The pro RH bill may have won the battle through the vote of a tarnished Congress but more Filipinos, whether Catholic or non-Catholic won the war. It put the debate on good governance on the table. The greed of politicians and an oligarchic structure have to account for our underdevelopment. It also exposes the destruction being wrought on our institutions.

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I will repeat the figures that show a downward trend in our population growth from the article Population Growth, Birth Rate, Death Rate, Life Expectancy of Filipinos and the RH bill by Warlito Nobleza Vicente.

“The consistent reasoning that the bill is needed because the Philippines is “the 12th most populous nation in the world today,” that the Filipino women’s fertility rate is “at the upper bracket of 206 countries.” In the bill’s explanatory note it states that studies and surveys “show that the Filipinos are responsive to having smaller-sized families through free choice of family planning methods.” It also refers to studies that “show that rapid population growth exacerbates poverty while poverty spawns rapid population growth.” And so it aims for improved quality of life through a “consistent and coherent national population policy.”

But what are the facts?

According to data culled from reliable statistics, including the World Bank, says otherwise. Population growth rate in the Philippines has decreased from 3.0% to 1.8%, for the period from 1960 to 2009; the birth rate decreased from 26.3% to 25.68%, for the period from 2003 to 2010; Death rate went down from 5.6% to 5.06%, for the period from 2003 to 2010; fertility rate went down from 7% to 3.1%, for the period from 1960 to 2008; life expectancy at birth increased for the period from 2003 to 2010.

The data show it is consistently on the downtrend. “All these happened via fund realignment and without increased funding for health.”

Therefore “poverty in the Philippines cannot be attributed to upward population pressure given the downward trends shown by empirical population data.”

“The justification for increased funding of procurement and distribution by the DOH is not supported by empirical evidence.”

On the other hand the same Aquino administration that pushed for the RH bill discourages investments through inconsistent policies while paying lip service that it wants them.

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“Opinions vary among economists about the effects of population change on a nation’s economic health,” according to Wikipedia.

Other economists doubt a correlation between population reduction and economic growth exists. Some economists, such as Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams have argued that poverty and famine are caused by bad government and bad economic policies, not by overpopulation.

In his book, The Ultimate Resource, economist Julian Simon argued that higher population density leads to more specialization and technological innovation, which in turn leads to a higher standard of living.

He claimed that human beings are the ultimate resource since we possess “productive and inventive minds that help find creative solutions to man’s problems, thus leaving us better off over the long run”.

Simon said that in a list of countries ranked in order by population density, there is no correlation between population density and poverty and starvation. Instead, if a list of countries is considered according to corruption within their respective governments, there is a significant correlation between government corruption, poverty and famine.” True.


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