The Philippines has one of the worlds highest birth rates. About 40% of Filipinos, or more than 30 million people, live in abject poverty. From 2001-2008 alone their population increased from 77 million to 90 million. As of 2005, the country is crippled by corruption and foreign debt repayments:
The powerful Speaker of the Philippines House of Representatives, Jose de Venecia, said there was no hope of his country reaching the UN goal of halving extreme poverty unless its foreign debt was reduced.
"The debt repayments and the government payroll take up 90% of the budget," he said, speaking in his 27th-floor home in Manila's elite Makati district. "That leaves just 10% for schools and hospitals, water and electrification projects." [link]
The country cannot afford to maintain high birth rates stretching their limited resources even further. Steps must be taken to reduce the size of families. Unfortunately the country is also infected with roman catholicism.
"[P]rominent forces" are publicly discussing the benefits of family planning in the Philippines, where for centuries the Roman Catholic Church has "exerted its influence" like it has in few other countries, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the Journal, family planning advocates have "existed for years on the fringes of society," but an increasing number of advocates are now urging the government to implement family planning policies to address the country's economic problems and slow its population growth.
Former Filipino President Joseph Estrada -- a 71-year-old former actor who was overthrown in a church-backed coup in 2001 -- is traveling the country encouraging people to use condoms to prevent unintended pregnancies. In addition, advocates have discussed family planning on television talk shows and in opinion pieces in local newspapers. "It is time for the Philippines' Catholic Church hierarchy to be more understanding and tolerant, as in other Catholic countries, so that the government is not impeded from providing strong family planning advice," Ernesto Pernia, an economics professor at the University of the Philippines, said .[link]
The above article was posted in 2008. The proposed bill is now very much a reality and their minister of health has entered into negotiations with....with the roman church.
The Aquino Government in the Philippines hopes to continue dialogue with Bishops on the controversial bill on family, parenting and population control currently before Parliament.
Church representatives, unhappy with the content of the bill, have threatened to walk away from negotiations.
The Government Minister for Health is drafting a new document entitled Document on Responsible Parenthood, replacing the previous Document on Reproductive Health. The new text includes information on natural and artificial methods of contraception, allowing freedom of choice. [link]
This struggle between religions dogma and realistic pragmatism should be familiar to Irish people. We've been in that position, fought the same battle against the roman church and, thankfully, won.
The familiar catholic slogans are present in the raging debate: population control is 'anti-life', 'unconstitutional', 'anti-family', 'rejecting the Philippines christian heritage', 'contraception does not reduce the spread of aids'. Sound familiar? Different country, same old roman church sprouting the same old tired propaganda.
The Philippines economy is clearly in need of further reform but population control is an essential part of that reform. Neither the Philippines nor the world has the resources to support an ever increasing population of humans. Current world wide projections put the world population in 2050 between 7.5 and 10.5 billlion. In 1950, the world human population was just over 2 billion.
Postscript: I originally posted the above in 2011. Thankfully the Philippines has successfully legalized contraception after a decade long struggle against the roman church. The church has not given up however and "consultations" continue with the church likely to challenge the bill in the supreme court while continuing to pressure local politicians. [link]
Housewife Nerissa Gallo, 44, who has given birth to 16 children, said she welcomed the law which would bring contraceptives into the reach of the poor.
Asked about the church's opposition, she said: "We don't pay attention to that. They are not the ones who are giving birth again and again. We are the ones who have to find a way to care for the children."