Monday, January 11, 2010

Scratching our heads

The next Congress session (January 18) approaches. And, today, a TV news announced a survey result showing a 92% disapproval rating for the Reproductive Health Bill, a bill that contains Rep. Edcel Lagman’s hopes to decrease the Philippines annual population growth through a drastic sex education program, a birth control program, and so on.

     Ordinarily, as a left-leaning liberal I would 
throw in my support for this bill, popularly known as the RH Bill, and be saddened/angered by that news.
     In the bills defense, I couldfor instancetake off from Al Gore’s desire to force the Third World (and even the US and China) to discipline its procreative proclivity and thus stop its bent to “increase and multiply,” all for the sake of the planet. . . . And I should be in favor of the bill, especially as we Filipinos recurrently have the privilege of being firsthand witnesses to how urbanization and squatting and metropolitan garbage wreak havoc on the waterways of our metropolises and how overpopulation hampers all efforts to balance unemployment with investments. I could say, look, my 50-ish uncle gets an on-the-spot job offer to be a warehouse foreman at a Toronto sidewalk while merely out for a cigarette, but the unemployment rate in our country and cities are decidedly too unhappy, thanks to the population growth rate.” . . . The population growth rate in our parts has also sadly provided a ready rationale for the mass production of drinking water for the metropolises by way of those uncomfortable dams, uncomfortable firstly to the families of slain tribal protesters who were against the building of certain of the dams, but just as uncomfortable to those provincial towns that keep watch on the spilling level of their dams every time it rains. Damn those dams. . . . We’re daily uncomfortable about our electricity supply for the burgeoning demand, too, with all its dependence on foreign loans and acceptance of the necessity of environmental degradation. . . . That, along with the national capital region’s high-budget highway- and railway-maintenance spending in aid of the daily rituals of transporting citizens from points of departure to points of arrival and vice-versa (the questionable concept of commuting workers to the business districts established by the countrys top moguls), causing in turn air and space pollution, all of which transport-facilities spending cull their rationale from overpopulation’s never-ending need for “modern” solutions to mobilizing the workforce, never mind the fact that such mobilization could be diminished by the availability of the populaces required employment in every municipality. . . . Biodiversity zones are invaded by human presence; food production lands are threatened by industrialization and real estate zones; sanitation becomes a headache; and beggary becomes the bric-a-brac on our boulevards. . . . There you go.
     However, despite my sympathy for these situations that call for quick checking on the burgeoning number of people in our archipelago, I also know of other public management policies in conflict with the ideological point of view around that checking. Current economics governing global economies of scale, for instance, would have a different utopia that’s almost in communion with the Christian churches’ embrace of the mushrooming Earth population. These economic beliefs, which are a way away from economics of climate change mitigation, jump for joy at the sight of any new or booming market populace, clearly implying that the more market there is the merrier it is for industries and world trade. Religion’s own approval of population booms has a similar-sounding reason: the more faithful (and mobilized converts) there are, the bigger the collection for servicing God’s words. But such favor for a continuing population increase is not necessarily limited to market economics or religion; statesmanship, such as those in countries like New Zealand and Canada and Germany, lament their states’ declining or aging populations and explicitly invite not just a labor force from without but immigration as well, in order to add laborers to their industries, yes, but also new taxpayers to the states national welfare fund; this can definitely be deemed pro-“increasing and multiplying” by itself. New Zealand, interestingly, borrows workers from China for its tree farms every harvest year, but Filipinos trendy desire to move to another country has been welcomed there.

I do not cater to global economics favoring the treadmill of consumption and production as the measure of progress and development. Yet I, too, may temporarily side with the Church’s as well as global trade’s and sparse populations’ stand on the advantage of expanding followers/markets/laborers/taxpayers. But it won’t be for the same reasons.
     My stand would more be from the vantage point merely asking the following questions:
  1. Taking the persons-per-square-meter measurement, is there really overpopulation in such ill-spread large populations as that in the Philippines? High population growth rate, yes. But is that reality also being used as a self-comforting alibi for the past and present administrations’ failure to distribute wealth (entrepreneurial capital and knowledge) as well as farm lands and industrial investment?
  2. Conversely, would population control play such a big part in the solutions currently being designed for these populous countries’ problems, or would it as a singular solution just add itself later to the national roster of problems? For instance, would programs at decreasing the population, assuming it is to achieve drastic results, produce likewise a future German-like problem in our archipelago, wherein the decline of a lower class results in the decline of a local labor force as well as armed force? Would a, say, drastic decline in population enable us to collect bigger VATs and other lower-consumer taxes, or would it hamper our debt servicing reliant on taxation culled from middle-income consumers instead of big business? Would the decline of the lower class and the rise of the middle class, ratio-wise, produce healthy industries or merely cottage industries? Or would it be wanting of an instant-noodle consuming lower class (with low-standard education constantly fooled by cartels) to exploit, producing in turn a barter-like neighborhood economy circling the middle class subdivision, in short a slowed-down consumer society? Would we, then, need to import labor? Isn’t China’s rising superiority as a global manufacturing hub precisely due to the presence of such a substantial amount of cheap labor?
  3. Even from the point of view of environmentalism and the war against climate change, is overpopulation really the culprit qua people numbers or is it more the state managers’ corrupted inability to radically create policies that would dispense of our unhindered use of fossil fuel? Are the daily traffic jams, for instance, to blame or is our managers’ refusal to throw out the window the old habit of daily transporting millions of workers to business centers, among many other similar policies, manifesting a deeper root of the problem?
  4. I reserve this number for many more questions that my readers, I know, would have the intelligence to ask in regards to the overpopulation claim. For while a city zone might display a good example of this overpopulation, Metro Manila being currently the sixth in the list of urban areas by population after Tokyo-Yokohama/Jakarta (Jabodetabek)/Seoul-Inchon (Sudogwon)/Delhi/Shanghai, hectares of an idle land owned by a national billionaire in a province could still sport an Eden for yet-to-occur nature exploitation. National Geographic reports that although the world’s population will soon reach 7 billion, that number can actually be fitted into the L.A. cosmopolis if the elements are arranged elbow-to-elbow, concert-audience-fashion. We often refuse to acknowledge that ample land and wealth in our islands exist—land and wealth often wrested away by some lawyer-manufactured title as well as political savvy, creating sudden properties illustrating an equally burgeoning landscape of inequity and exploitation combined with goon politics and elitist legalese. A plane window view of our islands will amply illustrate my point.
     Certainly, the above questions will remain unanswered by the people who have handles on those problems. That is, problems other than those to do with the population; I mean, problems directly having to do with these handlers’ disregard for the general population-cum-nation. For it is because of this disregard that the ship we call the state continues to resemble the sinking ferry whose captain is blaming the passengers overloading the low-priced rear of the boat for the sinking (after these passengers’ insistence at the pier to have the right to board was welcomed by the ticket seller at the pier booth). And now the captain would want a cap on more ticket selling. This captain will ignore the fact that selfish profit was really the culprit that allowed such overloading of the low-priced stern per trip that could have been managed via a distributed right to board across the expensive ferry’s many expensive cabins. Rep. Edcel Lagman (Lakas Kampi CMD) could have authored a bill against such profiteering at the helm whereby inflation at the boat’s stern of exploited workers would be absent. And, in this instance, it is erect profit who could find good use for a condom, so as to lessen the presence of its kind.

True, there are poor parents who scratch their heads at the sight of new pregnancies, even as they celebrate Church teachings regarding the beauty of new life. And true, it may be doubtful that there are many such parents who follow Church teachings regarding new life. Most Catholics ignore Catholic teachings on virtue, understandably since these virtues are usually taught via brief litanies in the echoing cathedrals where priestly words scatter inside the architecture like unrecognizable bird chirps (I always say the Church’s main problem is less scriptural or doctrinal than architectural). Church followers mainly go to church for selfish materialist prayers, or for subliminal social objectives. Many who have memorized all the Catholic feasts are not necessarily familiar with the details and contexts of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth; whenever they are, these teachings usually function in the faithful’s lives as no more than historical texts impossible to apply in the daily practice of clever free enterprise with an overpricing bent.
     And so, I admit, it’s not surprising to hear in this Catholic country of ours reports about rising abortion cases. Or even news about teens at Catholic high schools caught petting or—worse?—copulating inside a car in the school parking lot or the principal’s toilet room. If this is to be judged as a moral failure in society, whose first failure would that be, then, the parents’? Never the Church’s?
     So let me defend population control programs for a minute here. For perhaps population control programs are there merely to try to pick up from where this Church failure to check its flock left off. And though these programs would yet get the Church’s whipping in the media as the sinful programs of government, we should not forget that the teen fornications we were talking about above were occurring in a Catholic campus (or a religious Catholic town, for that matter) rather than a Commission on Population office. Sadly for the Church, while it recurrently and conveniently condemns any birth-control or sex education program of any government (keeping mum, though, on the advertising of sex in mass media), it also cannot control rampant sex among its followers and authorities, and thus, by this guilt perhaps, refuses to believe that high school freshmen already know more about sex—thanks to mass media, the Internet, and quasi-legal video piracy—than they’d care to learn in a scientific and social-scientific sex education class.
     But this Church failure is really understandable. For the Church itself—behind its media claims to filial virtue—is not really that serious about sins. When Catholic schools honor students whose generous parents receive special pointers for their kids’ exam reviews, are we not talking here about some kind of sin? When sex runs rampant in the sacristies, are we not talking about some kind of sin, too? When the Church picks on a political movie with breast exposures (Schindler’s List, etc.) while closing its eyes on porn tabloids and its ears on the sexist and racy jokes of bad comedy movies (without breast exposures, yeah, but starring “wholesome” stars from privileged families subliminally bragging about their exploits), are we not talking there about hypocritical selectivity or even perhaps bribed corruption? As the Church continues to campaign against the immorality of the RH Bill, some of its students and authorities somewhere shall continue to copulate, exploit, molest, or rape, and some of its orphanages even perhaps continue to reek of intermittent abuse. And though these illicit activities inside religious institutions may be exceptional cases, the fact remains that—despite its efforts—the Church has largely failed society as a whole and, evidence suggests, sporadically in its own backyard as well. And as for the claim that its Christian morality has always been frustrated by secular governments, history reminds us that the Church’s past (and somewhere present) role as both religion and government does not exactly give it a better record. We are not even saying anything yet about the Church’s own stand on secular governments corruption going on under its very supportive nose or, at the other end, on the mafiosi hands it daily embraces as its donors.
     In this sense of failure we could regard the Catholic Church and business corporate boardrooms and their jet-setting habits as both social liberal and right-wing institutionssocial liberal in their preaching, right-wing in their behavior. Both being knowledge institutions seeing nothing wrong with the virtue of the exploitable markets “increasing and multiplying,” they would cater to the seminary philosophy regarding the semen and the egg as apple fruits of that tree where no fruit should be allowed to be thrown away and where no apple should be allowed to remain uneaten. The semen must only be allowed to come out for procreation, thus banning even simple masturbation of the genitalia, and the woman’salongside a fruit treesmonthly production, and the woman’s disposal by menstruation of a reproductive egg in the womb, must both be considered as original sins of womanhood. This philosophy rumbles on with wrath, even as priests themselves may not just be scratching their penis heads in their bedrooms but be conspicuously masturbating their palates with excessive gustatory delights (the fruits of seminarian parents’ contributions to the seminary pantry) in the dining room, be feasting with their eyes on paintings and antiques and gold-plated altars and ivory statuettes of excess now in the seminary or cathedral storage room, be caressing their ears in the meditation room overly ridden with imported Italian music none of their parishioners could afford to either download or appreciate, not to mention be pumping their Sunday asses with cushion seats in their bishops air-conditioned four-wheel-drives on their way to vacation spots of note.

Still and all, however, after all this fact-baiting about the sins of the Church—and the business corporate boardroom—that we here set on the table, we can still say that it—the Churchis still right in admonishing us this: that it is not so much the fault of the teeming population that this population is unable to feed itself either equitably among themselves or amply. It is still right in saying that this is really someone else’s fault, with some Church authorities playing a merely supportive role as recipients of the blessings of corruption.
     For, often indeed, it is the fault of the overpopulated tribes’ chiefs, whose families and friends have for so long been allowed the better regions of the forest to hunt in, while the rest of the copulating tribe were only allowed nothing more than crumbs as prizes for their wage slavery and consequent obedience in the jungle. Such has been the case, in fact, nowadays in this age of unhindered corruption and graft (inclusive of continued fraudulent loan-getting for fraudulent projects), that the RH Bill should neither become the point of headline contention nor the hype-object of a headline solution. Not because no amount of family planning programming will change the Filipino belief in pag-aasawa and a necessary pag-aanak, but because—without meaning to agree with the Church’s argument—I in this serious light can only regard the RH Bill as stooge-like Edcel Lagman’s mere token for a singular solution, the head of the government he has supported having proved itself not really up to scratch with better and more effective answers for satiating the elites greed and capping the semen of poverty growth.
     Therefore, why give him another law from which he can demand another funding (not necessarily for), knowing the party he belongs to to be the family of the tribal chiefs we were talking about above? And this being an election year. [END]


  1. Jojo, I do hope you're being ironic. I'm all for being a maverick and will always doff my cap to original thought, but I hope you're not being irresponsible here. Of course what u say about the government and the elite is absolutely valid (and should absolutely be addressed), but we still face the very stark reality of resource scarcity at home, as u must realize. Regardless of who is to blame -- the president, Lagman, the Church, managers, etc, ad infinitum --the bottom line is that the lower-middle classes suffer the most, and the government (and the economy itself) lack/s the wherewithal to sustain them.

    Please note the following figures on reproductive health in the Philippines from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA):

    "In the Philippines, 3.4 million pregnancies occur every year, half are unintended, one-third of which end in abortions (2009, Guttmacher). An estimated eleven mothers die of pregnancy-related causes every day; most of them could have been avoided in a well-functioning health care delivery system. Among the leading direct causes of maternal deaths are post-partum hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, abortion-related complications and obstructed labor. Beyond the stark data of mortality lies a huge toll of ill health and disability due to pregnancy-related complications and infant and child deaths and deepening poverty in families where a mother has died. It is estimated that for every maternal death there is at least 20 to 30 other women who suffer from serious complications, some of which are life-long. Maternal health conditions are the leading causes of burden of disease among women.

    Only 21.6 percent of all Filipino women of them are using the modern method of contraception, 68.4 percent of these women are not currently using any method, with 9.9 percent using the traditional method. Approximately 85 percent of those not using any method become pregnant within a year. Those using traditional methods have extremely high rates of unintended pregnancy per year."

    The figures r troubling and deserve to be given credence, don't u think...?

  2. No, Lila, I'm not merely being ironic; I'm being pessimistic towards the Bill's dreaming itself. For what I said about the government and the elite will not be addressed, as it hasn't been since our year of independence from the United States. There is resource scarcity, yes, but scarce to whom? And those who I put the blame on will have all been party to the roster of those afraid of changing the status quo devoid of revolutionary ideas for equitable distribution of wealth.

    Equitable distribution of wealth and resources as well as services is possible without turning to communism (communism, in fact, is fake socialism that creates another elite and another lower class). The ideas of the welfare economist Amartya Sen, for instance, remain a dream in the Third World precisely because of this refusal by governments to apply those dreams to its populace. Under the status quo of trickle-down economics and a corrupt government culture in Third World countries sponsored by UN policies, the lower classes and the lower middle classes will continue to suffer, regardless of the presence of an RH Bill. Budgets for servicing the dreams of the new law will continue to be plundered; loans for such services continue to be politicized. The economy will continue to lack the wherewithal to sustain these services because of World Bank stooges and semi-stooges (Joker Arroyo as chairman of the ADB and finance secretary Jaime Ongpin stood pat for blanket loans-servicing in the Cory Aquino years, going against the Freedom from Debt Coalitions' pleas for a stay on certain questionable Marcos loans, and now we have former World Bank sellers like Manny Villar promising wealth to all).

    And, by the way, the World Bank and the IMF are of the UN and the UN has stood by the policies of international banks, despite criticisms of these policies by such former consultants as the economist and former Clinton adviser Joe Stiglitz. While the UN (with its IMF and World Bank) provides us with reality bites concerning the state of things in the Third World, its approach at the end of the day merely kowtows to the policies of corrupting local officials for the benefit of the international banking industry. Walden Bello has written numerous articles on the IMF and the WB's roles in relation to the UN's approach to the Third World, and the world is right in believing that it takes Bonos before fraudulent loans for token programs are written off.

    One other thing to be pessimistic about: bills that contradict the Church often look like dangled threats. When the Church is seen as suddenly supportive of the laws' proponents, the bills are withdrawn and everybody is rendered happy again in the continuing political detente. Unless the WB budget for such programs becomes tastier than the Church parishioners' votes.

    The figures have always been troubling. Funny that only citizens like you and me would find them so. Institutions, including those that provide the figures, seemed all these decades not to care less.

  3. But UNDP is based on the theories of Amartya Sen and Mahbub ul-Haq. They r very much against the philosophies of the World Bank, the Washington Consensus and the Chicago School. The US may strong-arm its way around the UN, which is one reason why countries r forced to tow the line (given their enormous contribution to the budget), but the vast majority r very much against the WB.

    What do u propose as a way out of this impasse? If, as u say, no one is going to do anything about any of this at all anyway, isn't it still better for the country as a whole to have less people? Or had u planned to suggest alternatives in a part 2 to this?



  4. Thanks, Lila. As I said in the article, ordinarily I would---like Al Gore---be rallying behind such what-could-otherwise-be timely legislation as the RH Bill. And as for suggestions, they are all over the place, explicit and implicit. The main point of the blog, though, is this: decades before, the country's population was not as dense as today's, and yet the same problems regarding poverty and feudal and worker oppressions and plutocracies and greed lured many to join the Huks and, later, the NPA. Even then, the rising population or urbanization was already being used as an alibi for the continuance of old oligarchic habits.

    All right. So we legislate to stabilize population growth with the RH Bill. How effective is it really going to be? How much more harm will it inflict on the country's tax funds in the form of corruption working over the program's implementation budget? A sincere RH Bill would actually work for more radical means of stabilizing the growth, using Japan's or even China's model. That would be the more serious bill, wouldn't you think? As it is, Lagman's RH Bill is weak and has only the potential of becoming another milking cow for corrupt officials, if it's no mere threat to a rebelling Church.

    But, as we wait for a truly revolutionary legislation on this problem, one that would actually work, we must likewise pray for other truly revolutionary legislation addressing problems affecting the populace. As per the current state of affairs, we tend to rashly allow that mendicancy, for instance, is a product of overpopulation instead of being firstly a product of government policy inequities. It's the same argument being used in food security, for instance. I say we should not be easily misled by the cop-out that food security is threatened firstly by overpopulation and only secondly by land conversions and land no-reform. That is a half-truth, and being so makes it a lie.

    A good metaphor would be a city avenue, where the rush-hour heavy traffic is being blamed mainly on the common man's public transportation, this even as 85% of what could be on the road are cars with one to two persons in them. How I wish Metro Manila had the population of Stockholm. But given our governance culture, in such a sparse city we'd still have beggars on the avenues. We've been there before.

    We inhabit a time and age ripe for revolutions or revolutionary ideas. The RH Bill is just one of those same old same old tokens of change. How can I be excited?

  5. Jojo,

    The way your blog is written the word “Church” obviously means the Catholic Church. Now, I’m not a Catholic (and never have been). That’s a problem. My personal beliefs and the official beliefs of my church (not always the same thing, but that’s ok with both of us) are very different from the Catholic mind set. What that means is that to comment in any reasonable way on your blog, I’d have to draw a number of distinctions between what I feel is proper doctrine—amounting to a blanket criticism of the Catholics. It’s not that I’m afraid to stand up to the Church—I believe they are totally wrong in many areas—so much as it’s contrary to my beliefs to publicly put down another religious group. It’s just bad form—I can no more bring myself to lump “Catholics” into a single mold than I can lump “Filipinos” into a single mold.

    As for the hierarchy and doctrine, something similar applies—a lot of good people have come to God through the Catholic Church. As we say, “there are going to be a lot of Catholics in heaven.” The mindset I subscribe to prevents me from publicly speaking out against an agency that brings people to God. (Just as I would never publicly speak out against Islam or Buddhism.)

    Privately, things are different. Not only Catholics, but a lot of conservative evangelicals and almost all fundamentalists take the same stances you’ve outlined. I see Ms. Lila Shahani’s already peppered you with health statistics. I have some more (anecdotal, unlike Ms. Shahani’s footnoted ones). The unwed mother population, worldwide, is greatest for members of religious groups that preach abstinence only. I’ve actually edited Christian magazine articles about this—the fundamentalist/Catholic mindset is much better at discouraging the use of birth control than it is at discouraging extra-marital sex. (The STD statistics reflect the same phenomenon.)

    In my church, the real teaching is, “Yes, extra-marital sex is wrong and you should not do it—but if you do it anyway, don’t be an idiot!” Not so hard to understand, is it? There are many other areas where we differ from more conservative teachings—all of them pretty much following the same format. We recognize that humans are, well, humans—that people make their own choices, for better or for worse, and that that’s pretty much what God had in mind when He gave us free will. Make choices, avail of forgiveness, but still, live with consequences. Our lot in life.

    What we don’t accept (or at least what I don’t accept) is that either the church or the government has a place in anybody’s bedroom (or motel room, for that matter) (or the kitchen either, if that’s what turns you on).

    So, anyway, I just want you to know that your blog did its job. I would have had a lot to say if you hadn’t made your whole case the big-C Church. I’m just not willing to take a sectarian stance (or a stance against a sect—though the CC is a pretty big sect and capable of taking care of itself—but this is not about them, it’s about me and what I believe). In other words, I’m perfectly willing to stand up and speak out for what I believe on this issue—but I will do so (and have done so) only in contexts that do not imply a condemnation of another person’s faith. Too bad. But not tragic—you covered things very well—well enough to set Ms. Shahani off, and really it’s the (life and death) issues that she addressed that really matter.

    Keep it up,

  6. Jojo,

    On a political rather than theological note, in reply to Ms Shahani’s comment you said:

    “We inhabit a time and age ripe for revolutions or revolutionary ideas. The RH Bill is just one of those same old same old tokens of change. How can I be excited?”

    I find it difficult to let that pass. While you have done an accurate job of enumerating perennial problems faced by the county (and I well remember, circa 1970, various creeds against the Church’s stand on population control---including artist Benjamin Mendoza’s attack on Pope Paul VI here in Manila, as a symbolic action against that policy).

    But although the nation’s constitution pays lip-service to the separation of church and state, we all know that opposition to church policies has been considered political suicide throughout our history here.

    Now, you desire a revolutionary idea? How about the legislature of the Philippines actually passing a law that flies in the face of Church doctrine for the first time in memory? I’m sorry, but that sounds pretty revolutionary to me. It is, as you point out, not the best of all possible laws, but, as I’ve read elsewhere, the perfect need not be the enemy of the good.

    It’s true that larger populations, when matched by higher productivity, lead to a higher GDP (look at China), but in the meantime, people suffer and die, unwanted and un-cared-for children are born, and the notion of a law being passed that might offend the Church remains a fantasy. I’d say that passing the RH bill would indeed be revolutionary.


  7. Thanks, Big. I was actually thinking along the lines of being revolutionary not just for rebellion's sake but going beyond. Hitting the Church in the crotch with this bill might be a timely act, but it doesn't exactly hit at a success rate projection, does it?

    Sex education, yes, as if kids nowadays still need it---along with distribution of free contraceptives---is hoped will achieve something in aid of population stabilization. After several million pesos in funding, sure.

    Unfortunately, as far as my exposure to barangay kids is concerned, it's not so much knowledge of the female body that is at issue with them as the culture of pag-aasawa and pag-aanak largely considered by the unwritten Filipino family code as the rite of passage that qualifies one (capacity be damned) to enter the adult world (and thus to harvest adulthood's advantages, whatever these are). The movie Babae Sa Breakwater is not entirely fantasy, I assure you; it demonstrates full well, in its expressionist mode of realism, the poor's ideals of a better life which do not limit themselves to an improved economic status.

    Contraceptives may also abound---the cheap condom brand may be in every boy's wallet nowadays---, but would even the strictest sex education keep them from experimenting with the barenaked version of doing it?

    Something more revolutionary than the RH Bill is demanded for a check on the population growth. I mentioned the Japanese model. THAT one will not just kick the Church out of the house, it will lock the door.

    Another thing. It might interest statisticians to consider why it is that the more privileged the family in its access to better education and wages is, the smaller its household population. Conversely, it's the poor families (who are not exactly the more devout Catholics, I assure you) who are churning out babies, despite their ready access to pirated porn that shows them how to avoid pregnancies. Anthropologists might have a say on why our farm tenants and fishermen want more kids to help out in their families' welfare and security. This culture does not need condoms, it needs a good sense of math and economics that would enable them to balance their investing in coconut baby milk and later teenage rice and fish with their dreams of potential future help.

    Now. Having said that, I would like to clarify that I am not against an RH Bill. I am against THIS RH Bill as 1) a 2010 excuse for a million-peso budget release, 2) as a dangled threat for the Church until it supports, say, Manny Villar (anti-RH) instead of Noynoy Aquino (ironically pro-RH but still backed by some Church leaders for his consistently vocal anti-Arroyo stance), and 3) as a cop-out that the RH Bill will be the answer. As I said, given our present culture of plutocratic and oligarchic governance, even if we are to see Metro Manila's population suddenly reduced to that for a mere barangay's, we will still see homeless hobos in the streets.

  8. Yes, but it would be a start. And ultimately that's all we can hope for in any historical moment: incremental changes. There is no totalizing utopia we can all aspire for, regrettably. If civil rights activists in the US and elsewhere had had that attitude, the movement itself (which took time to develop momentum, after all) might never have happened at all.

  9. Fortunately for the movers of civil rights in the US Congress, Lila, there was/is no specter surrounding requisite implementation funding for the new laws being proposed. I use the word "specter", for the RH Bill is being propounded by an ally of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo whose government moves have always been suspect, reeking of either "financial" or "political" motivations (to use euphemisms). Unlike the civil rights issue, which rightfully hovered over itself and answered the problem by zeroing in on itself, the implication peddled by the RH Bill was an answer to the issue of poverty or environment. It's an answer zeroing in on a corollary issue, the issue of population.

    This to me is obfuscation of the poverty problem, apart from the obfuscation of what I suspect to be the hidden motives of this bill (see my replies to commenter Big above). And even assuming that this bill is zeroing in on Population The Problem itself, that is, qua its own problem treated beside poverty, environment, etc., the more it should be suspect. For the RH Bill's utopia is not only weak in addressing the population problem, it is in fact nothing less than a distraction at best and a contributor to the perpetuation of a denial---the denial that population needs be addressed beyond the lame proposal of allocating/loaning funds for condom distribution and sex education. The civil rights movement's demands and consequent laws were not as shallow. They were radical, they were bent on really solving the problem.

    But, I agree, the RH Bill could be a start. But that would be so only if there is the promise that this is not going to be just another milking cow and that other laws are to follow. If US civil rights had activists, activists for real checks on the worrisome Philippine population growth rate have yet to be heard in Philippine politics. Clamoring for sex education or condom distribution is not activism, it only sounds revolutionary because of the Church factor. It is lamism, in truth and in fact. It's not going to check the population growth; instead, it will waste money, if not on the coming elections then on implementations going nowhere. I stand by my favor for the Japanese model.

  10. Hi Jojo,

    You said: "Something more revolutionary than the RH Bill is demanded for a check on the population growth. I mentioned the Japanese model. THAT one will not just kick the Church out of the house, it will lock the door."

    I have always been pro-family planning, pro-population control - BY ALL means possible. The items you and Lila cited are on the macro level of reasons and are all true. But I'm just an ordinary person who don't know much about statistics in the UN or wherever agency in the world that "supports" or does not support the RH Bill.

    But I am for responsible parenting and my stand on this bill is that the Church should shut up about it until these priests give birth themselves and then they can preach to mothers like me about the RH Bill.

    It is not a perfect Population Control measure tainted with corruption or the possibility of it happening. But until it is GIVEN TO THE PEOPLE as an option - an option they are entitled to know about 100% - the masses will forever be guided by what this Church has to say about it. It is OUR RIGHT as a people to have something like this - perfect or not - as a start. We need to start somewhere.

    If you want it "perfected" then maybe get WOMEN to rewrite the Bill in itself. Women are in a better position to dictate to other women how to be responsible parents, regulate their pregnancy, or be responsible for their bodies. Husbands nor the Church, and definitely not this government = do NOT have the right to dictate upon women how many children we want or when we want to have ligations or whatever.

    Its OUR body, not our husbands, not the government's and definitely not the Church's and WOMEN are the only ones who should decide on matters that affect us directly.

    But the options should be made available to the women, the procedures and the education should be made available to women and frankly, the decisions should be made entirely by women.

    Now until men start giving birth, I personally don't believe men or men of the cloth have any right to decide on this one nor should they even deny women the right to have it.


  11. I totally agree with you, Jenaquinox. A realistic start is in "making available" those options needed for family planning.

    The operative phrase is "making available". The operative thought is making sure those items and knowledges to be "made available" ARE MADE AVAILABLE and not exploited for the squandering of its funds by a 50% shortchange.

    That's the reason why this bill should not be written and implemented by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's men in the election months of 2010, even if Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a woman (who may or may not be a slave to the men around her: Mike Arroyo, Enrique Razon, Eduardo Ermita, Norberto Gonzales, Ronaldo Puno, etc.). I agree. Let women rewrite the bill, inserting fine details on how to make sure funds for it are not diverted and---if possible---inserting teeth into the law.