Catholic Philippines Tries To Get Wiser On Population Growth’s Dangers

By Donald A. Collins | 6 January 2014
Church and State

A trash picker plies a Manila waterway. (Credit: Judgefloro / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

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.

As Wikipedia tells us,

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!

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

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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  1. Human population dynamics are essentially similar to, not different from, the population dynamics of other species. If you can see this phenomenon, then speak out about it. How are we to do anything with regard to the global predicament spawned by skyrocketing human population numbers if we cannot widely share and consensually validate an adequate understanding, based upon the best available science, of why human numbers have been growing so rapidly? Scientists have got to speak out because silence is vanquishing science. The science of human population dynamics has been a taboo topic for too long. I have come to believe that top rank scientists and other self-proclaimed experts are acting as gatekeepers of current, conventional, preternatural thought and deniers of new scientific research, especially when that science regards the human population. That you are willing to say something about what you see regarding human population dynamics takes intellectual honesty and uncommon courage.

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
    established 2001
    Chapel Hill, NC

  2. This is not a time to give up or give in. Likely your hopelessness is at least partially driven by the abject failure of so many self-proclaimed experts and other kno…wledgeable people to say out loud what they know to be true about the way the world we inhabit actually works as well as about the placement of human species within the natural order of living things. Not speaking out loudly, clearly and often regarding what is known to be true and real gives rise to the hopelessness so many feel and to the false idea that there is nothing we can do. Perhaps the silence of so many 'plays the lead role' when it comes to killing the world as we know it. Not speaking truth to the powerful is unethical, morally outrageous, intellectually dishonest and a preposterous failure of nerve. Never in the course of human events have human failings had such profound implications for the future of life on Earth.

  3. The Catholic Population just quadrupling because the growth of the population of the Philippines was quiet fast that could able to growth from 10,000,000 on c.c. 1940 until 100,000,000 on 2014. But in percentage, the Roman Catholicism is actually decreasing from about 85% on past several decades until now that got only roughly 78% of the population (the worst of it is only 29% of the population could able to call themselves as Catholics or attending regular masses; and about 10% of them want to leave Catholicism),compared to Islam, w/c is the fastest growing religion (about 5 – 10% rate annual) in the Philippines, from 4% (1960) on past decades until 11 – 15% on recent survey (2012) and Buddhism (about 2% rate annual) from 0.6% (c.c.1960) on past decades until 1 – 2% at the present time. I conclude that Christian population starts to decrease.


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