ON MY WAY BACK TO MANILA'S MIASMA, I listened to a great AM Radio interview (DZMM with Joel Reyes Zobel: "Gising na Bayan!") of Dr. Ernie Pernia, UP Economics Professor with the Philippine Center for Population Development (PCPD), an NGO that promotes modern and traditional birth control methods. He makes some points that really hurt:
1. In 1970 both Thailand and the Philippines each had about equal populations of 37 million people.
2. Today Thailand has 66 million population while the Filipinos are a teeming 90 millions with only two thirds of Thai land area.
3. Thailand is growing at an average 0.9% per annum while the Philippines is at 2.1% population gtrowth rate, even though in 1971 the Thais merely copied a 1969 family planning program started by Ferdinand Marcos. If the rate stays constant, there will be 180 million Filipinos in 2040!
He places the blame squarely on the Catholic Church and its inexplicable stranglehold on the brain cells of Philippine Presidents (save that of Fidel V. Ramos, a Protestant), resulting in completely ineffective programs. Both Marcos and Cory Aquino succumbed to the clerical ministrations of Jaime Cardinal Sin, who truly loved the poor as much as his current successor, Gaudencio Rosales. So much that they are principally responsible for the vast expansion of poverty in this country.
But Dr. Pernia reserves his severest criticism for the current promoter of Poverty Through Reproductive Fecundity, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who, thanks to the Catholic sisters of the Assumption Convent seems to have assured the Men in Skirts of the CBCP that under her watch, the Filipinos will continue to multiply like rats in a rice granary.
Not really a good analogy on my part because of course, as Dr. Pernia points out there is another painful irony in the comparison with Thailand, which exports fully one half of its annual 26 billion metric ton rice production. The Philippines, meanwhile is the WORLD'S LARGEST IMPORTER OF RICE, in spite of the fact that she hosts the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, the world's foremost rice R&D center which launched the Green Revolution in the fifties and sixties, thus preventing a likely global war and famine.
The population explosion has destroyed government's ability to cope with such problems as food production, housing, infrastructure, education, social services, energy--everything! Just think this coming school year the education system has to deal with 2 million more students. They'll run out of shifts in the day to double and triple up on classrooms. There won't even be enough mango trees to teach under before too long!
This circumstance he blames on the inconstancy of the government's agriculture, infrastructure, education and population management programs. Under GMA for example, he says that this year the Philippines is spending a BIG FAT ONE MILLION PESOS on "population management materials" (condoms, pills and other modern birth control implements) because of insane Catholic Church propaganda that anything other than Vatican roulette (natural rhythm method) amounts to being "abortifacient"--clearly a scare and smear tactic.
Dr. Pernia points out that in many Catholic countries like Italy, France and even South American outposts of the Catholic Taliban, birth control (or "population management" as Pernia prefers) has become a nonissue. Catholic Bishops abroad have taken a more liberal and enlightened stance, which may also be why as a group they don't father as many children as their Filipino confreres, who I suppose may be credited for a weird kind of consistency.
The final painful cut has to do with an inexplicable thing: SWS and Pulse Asia surveys all show overwhelming majorities of Filipinos (80% or more) who approve of family planning and wish they could have more access (afford) to modern birth control methods.
Susmaryosep! The one million pesos GMA budgeted this year will hardly pay for the Bishops next big feed at the trough of Pagcor. Well no wonder they like "Vatican Roulette"! Now they will even have a hand in the rice crisis. Pharisaic fascists!