While American Catholics are screaming about offering contraceptive choices under the Affordable Care Act, a strongly Catholic nation, the Philippines, has finally bitten the bullet on reality.
The Philippine Star, the English language paper published in Manila reported that these islands will have 100 million people this year. In 1960, its population was slightly over 27 million. Imagine almost quadrupling its numbers in 53 years!!
We here at home shouldn’t feel too smug. While the US only added about 150 million to its present 320 million, not quite doubling its numbers, look at the mess we are in with massive deficits, shortage of health care and other social services, limping education systems, and every other common measure of stability and comity.
And even now the enemies of family planning—i.e. freedom and choice–are petitioning our highest court to keep women from enjoying the benefits of contraceptive health care.
In 1960, the government of the Philippines conducted a survey on both population, and housing. The population was pegged at 27,087,685. Successive surveys were again conducted on 1970, 1975, 1980, and 1990, which gave the population as 36,684,948, 42,070,660, 48,098,460, and 60,703,206 respectively. On 1995, the POPCEN was launched, undertaken at the month of September. The data provided the bases for the Internal Revenue Allocation to local government units, and for the creation of new legislative areas. The count was made official by then President Fidel Ramos by Proclamation No, 849 on August 14, 1995. The population was 68,616,536.
According to the executive director of the Commission on Population Tomas Osias, the population of the Philippines may reach 101.2 million by 2014. Attempts to introduce a reproductive health law to bring down the population growth rate has been consistently opposed by the Catholic Church, the dominant religion of the country.
Finally, I guess the RCC’s power has been partially thwarted by the simple matter of resources! Sheila Crisostomo, author of the Philippine Star’s January 5th article tells us,
The population of the Philippines is expected to reach that number this year, putting a strain on the country’s resources, the Commission on Population (PopCom) said.
“Definitely in the third or fourth quarter of this year, we will be more than 100 million,” PopCom executive director Juan Antonio Perez III told The STAR yesterday.
In 2013, the National Statistical Coordination Board estimated the country’s population to be around 97.35 million.
Perez noted that to support the rising population, more investments in social services such as health and education, and infrastructure would be required.
Health Undersecretary Janet Garin, for her part, said the ballooning population should be matched by economic growth.
Otherwise, she claimed, all the economic reforms that the government has been undertaking could be jeopardized.
This, Folks, is the message many reputable family planning institutions have been trying to get acted upon for decades. Instead of foreseeing the obvious in 1960, when adoption of family planning methods, even without offering abortion services, could have produced a gentle slowing and safer landing for that 27 plus million on these multiple islands, the RCC bluntly, brazenly, arrogantly said, “No” and led its followers down a path to where drastic means will be needed to effect what could have been done so easily and safely. Old time religion, please don’t gimmie that!
Again Ms Crisostomo makes the obvious points, well known so long ago, “The government will always be there to provide social services but it’s not unlimited. There is a limit to our funding,” she said in a telephone interview.
But of course, even in face of the obvious, the final decision on this new law is being held up even more, presumably by the same wonder kind people who brought you the present pain and suffering.
Garin has underscored the need for the Supreme Court to decide now on the Reproductive Health (RH) Law because it will fortify existing programs of the Department of Health.
“If you look at the situation, the desire to plan the family is there but the question is that the affordability is not there. This is where the law comes in, to make sure poverty will not get into generational (traits), that you won’t pass it on to the next generations,” she maintained.
Perez added that since the country’s population growth rate is now around two percent, “we have to maintain a gross domestic product of more than four percent to keep pace with employment.”
“But we have to maintain that for five years, not just one year, to get there, to get the benefits,” she said.
He said to get the “benefits of demographic dividends,” the current total fertility rate (TFR) or the “replacement rate” of 3.1 must be improved to 2.1. TFR pertains to the number of children per woman.
“Of course what we want to do is not really population growth rate reduction. It’s not that. We want to get a replacement rate of 2.1,” the official claimed.
But Perez said that it would take five to 10 years to bring the TFR down to 2.1
And to minimize the impact of the huge population, there is also a need to improve the contraceptive rate that is now pegged at 49 percent.
“We have to reach a contraceptive rate of around 65 to 70 percent. Now it’s 49 percent so that means in five to 10 years we have to get there and keep it up for five years,” he added.
The official agreed that the RH Law could also help the country cope with the rising population.
“The RH Law – this is my own opinion – talks about additional resources for the program and the local government units (LGUs) are getting on board in terms of policy,” he claimed.
With the law, LGUs will be mandated to provide funds for reproductive health programs, including the purchase of contraceptives. The measure, however, has not been implemented due to a restraining order issued by the Supreme Court.
Perez said that the health resources of most LGUs are still pegged at 1992 levels, or when health services were devolved from the DOH to the local levels.
“There are already existing mandates like the PopCom and DOH for a population program. What the RH Law will do is strengthen the policy level and the LGU level and increase resources,” he added.
So the Philippines and so many other nations with the same dilemma of meeting the needs of the rapid growth of human numbers will soldier on, causing greater human pain and suffering as they go. As I said above, don’t, PLEASE, gimmie that old time religion!
From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013
By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
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