MANILA, Nov. 14, 2011?Singapore ex-Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew’s regrets about the population control policy he implemented during his term should be a wake-up call to those who insist that making birth control a matter of national policy is the solution to the Philippines’ problems.
“It’s unfortunate for any society that there are still those who cannot or refuse to see that ‘reproductive health’ is actually being used to mask the population control advocacy. A First World country like Singapore did implement mechanisms since the 1970s to limit childbirth and the government was very aggressive about it, only for Lee Kuan Yew to later on admit that it was one of his serious blunders,” said Elmer Baguioro, a Filipino chemical engineer living in Singapore.
“Perhaps the most troubling problem facing the nation is a result of its overly successful population control program, which ran with the slogan ‘Two Is Enough.’ Today Singaporeans are simply not reproducing, so the country must depend on immigrants to keep the population growing. The government offers baby bonuses and long maternity leaves…” he related, adding that the fertility rate of 1.29 could lead to the fatal error in the Singapore Model — “the eventual extinction of Singaporeans.”
The reproductive health (RH) bills pending in the Philippines legislature — Senate Bill 2865 and House Bill 4244 — include provisions on a two-child family as the ideal family size. While RH proponents insist that this is not the same as a “two-child policy” and will merely be recommended when advising couples on family planning, including such a provision in the bill already gives the State the power to enforce what RH proponents refer to as “optional”.
An ‘optional law’?
“Even if they say it will be optional, the idea of two children as being the ideal to aim for will be promoted. Budget will be allotted for promotion; funds will be poured into implementing this part of the measure as part of the annual budget for RH,” explained Jose Descallar, pro-life advocacy staff of Buhay Party List Rep. Mariano Michael Velarde.
“Then if, as they say, [the 2-child ideal family size] is not mandatory, why put it in the bill? What kind of a law would that be? Pwedeng sundin, pwede ring hindi sundin. Meron bang law na ganoon?” Descallar asked.
“Enacting an ideal family size is enacting a standard or norm. If two is the ideal size or norm, then we can assume that this is population control,” he added.
Destroying the fabric of society
Apple Suemith, a Filipino graduate student in Surabaya, Indonesia, points to the experiences of other countries as a reliable reference for Filipinos to see just what population control does to any society and, thereby, what the RH bill would lead to.
“I really think the country would be committing a kind of national suicide if they pursue the RH bill. They just have to look at the example of other countries where the number of children was limited and are now facing the consequences of birth rate decline — China, Singapore, European countries,” Suemith said.
The other repercussions of a measure that mandates birth control as well as comprehensive sex education have also led her to oppose the measure.
“The morals are more and more confused. People no longer have respect for each other — they may divorce left and right, teenage promiscuity abounds, and you later have a generation of people with immature character, accustomed to pleasure and comfort and not having a sense of responsibility,” Suemith explained, adding that she noticed similar things in Indonesia.
Children hardlly learn the value of giving, she said, because they only have to share the family goods with their lone sibling.
“Couples become accomplices of their own selfishness instead of being able to decide the way they will handle their marital life in a spirit of affectionate dialogue, foregoing the marital act if at that moment, the woman is fertile, and they cannot afford to have another baby because of some serious reasons,” she pointed out.
Since moving to Indonesia in 2009, Suemith has noticed the extent to which the government promotes its family planning program. Trips are made to the remotest villages to carry out the promotion among the rural folks, and advertisements sell the family planning program on TV and via billboards, she related.
“People want to have only two children — the contraceptive mentality is rampant here.”
Suemith believes the Philippine government can respond better to the people’s needs by pouring its resources into other areas crucial to nation-building.
“The government can invest more in other things like education in order to build the nation, and distribution of resources instead of putting its limited funds on things that only invade family life and privacy of married couples. This is not their area of competence. The government cannot run families.”
Resumption of sessions at the Senate and the House of Representatives after a month-long recess takes place today. (CBCP for Life)