By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
The population issue is hot in the country, particularly with the pending bill on reproductive health in Congress. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) released its position against the said bill branding the measure as anti-life.
Recently in the news, the Philippines was identified among the top 15 most populous nations of the world registering 88.7 million people. The population could have been more if not due to the high infant mortality rate and abortions, illegal or otherwise.
The population will surely boom as official statistics show that four babies are born every minute. If there will be no concrete and realistic measures that would be adopted by the government, the Philippines would move to a higher rank from where it is now. A problem as a consequence is how to support such a big population.
From the 15 most populous nations, eight are found in Asia. The list include: 1. China (1.32 billion), 2. India (1.13 billion), 3. United States (304 million), 4. Indonisia (232 million), 5. Brazil (187 million), 6. Pakistan (163 million), 7. Bangladesh (159 million), 8. Nigeria (148 million), 9. Russia (142 million), 10. Japan (128 million), 11. Mexico (107 million), 12. Philippines (88.7 million), 13. Vietnam (84 million), 14. Germany (82 million), and 15. Egypt (81 million).
In Congress, the pending bill on reproductive health aims to address the fast growing population through various family planning methods. The bill also encourages spouses to limit their children to two. If enacted into law, a new office to be called the Council on Family Planning will be established to monitor the family planning program.
While I view it as a concrete policy move to address the population growth, I hope politicians would push for the measure despite the “threat” by the Catholic bishops to campaign against the proponents.
I remember from our history when the Catholic Church threatened to campaign against Senator Claro M. Recto when he filed a bill in congress to include Dr. Jose Rizal’s life and works, particularly the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, in the education curriculum. Of course, we knew that these controversial novels contained exposés of church atrocities during the Spanish colonial period, and the church was bent in blocking the bill as it would tarnish its image. Recto’s purpose, however was to rekindle the nationalist consciousness of the youth through studying the life and works of Rizal.
Nationalist Recto, though a politician, knew the consequences of his acts if the Catholic Church would campaign against him in the elections. However, he pushed for the measure due to its nationalistic aims. That past situation can be likened on today’s threat by the Catholic Church to campaign against the proponents of the reproductive health bill. If the politicians choose to do a Recto, they should enrich their bill more by consulting the broadest sectors of our society. We need a scientific program to address the country’s population issue. And I must be done now if we are to address the population, which is fast increasing. #