News Commentary

Pro-life group’s proposal: How about one-wife policy?

- Jose Aravilla -
A two-child policy can be effective only if there is a corresponding "one-wife" policy.

This was the argument raised by pro-life congressmen and Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, who banded together in anticipation of a protracted battle with legislators pushing the two-child policy.

Atienza and the eight congressmen, half of whom represent Manila, taunted their rivals with a counter-proposal that should make husbands stick to their wives.

"What use is the two-child policy if I have five wives? With the two-child policy I could still have 10 children," Manila first district Rep. Ernesto Nieva said.

Nieva was among the congressmen who appeared at yesterday’s forum in Manila hosted by Atienza in an effort to rally legislators to stop the bill proposed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.

The other pro-life congressmen present were Manila’s Miles Roces (third district), Rudy Bacani (fourth), and Benny Abante (sixth); Cebu Rep. Simeon Kintanar, Parañaque Rep. Ed Zialcita, and Buhay party-list Reps. Rene Velarde and Christian Señeres.

Lagman’s bill encourages couples to limit their children to two by offering them perks, like free education for their children, in a bid to control the fast-growing population.

The Philippines has 84 million people, making it the 12th most populous nation in the world.

Catholic Church officials and the anti-abortion group Pro-Life, which Atienza heads, have vehemently opposed the bill. Atienza said they are willing to take to the streets if they have to and challenged the two-child policy advocates to a debate.

"Why not (a debate)? If it is going to be a genuine debate," Atienza said.

Kintanar said they expect other congressmen to join them once debates on the floor of the House of Representatives start, enabling them to expose what they described as a "sugar-coated" abortion bill.

"The bill is an alibi for failure," Atienza said. "The government has not even done its homework."

Atienza particularly took issue with section 9 of the bill, which mandates the use of 50 percent of the internal revenue allotments of local government units to fund the purchase and distribution of artificial contraceptives.

"The proponents are not only encroaching on the powers of local government units, they also want to sacrifice local government objectives to buy and distribute condoms and birth control pills," he said, asking in the vernacular: "Can people eat condoms?"

He warned that the measure is promoting a "culture of death" and would open the floodgates to heinous acts such as abortion. "The issue is very basic — are you promoting life or death?"

Atienza said Lagman and his supporters got things in reverse when they expect the economy to be on the upswing after curbing population growth. On the contrary, the mayor said economies of developed countries boomed at a time of high population growth, which declined only when couples became too busy with their work brought about by economic progress.

Abante, for his part, described as "atheistic" the proposed policy of Lagman, who is identified with militant groups.

The other so-called "death bills" the congressmen vowed to fight in the House of Representatives are the measures on divorce, euthanasia, abortion, total population management and homosexual marriage.

Also present at the forum yesterday were Mel Robles of El Shaddai and lawyer Jo Imbong of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.











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