Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A Sissy Population Policy and An Infallible Church

Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit seems to be baring his true skin all the more these days (pun intended) as he is criticized by his Thai contemporary for his inaction in procuring necessary contraceptives to help combat chronic overpopulation as Thai Sen. Mechai Viravaidya encouraged a shift in government policy by intensively promoting artificial means of contraception as the most potent form of birth control, thereby reducing population growth at a low steady rate, as was successfully done in Thailand. It is an inutile health policy for Dayrit to wait for marching orders from GMA as it is his mandate to provide healthcare for the people regardless of whatever personal opinion the President has over the issue of population management. Government policy is different from the President’s whims.

On the other hand, the subtle political pressure of the Church comes to the fore again as CBCP Chair Oscar Cruz was quick to defend Dayrit’s decision to defer procuring contraceptives by lambasting at the Thai “Condom King” for promoting irresponsible sexuality especially among the youth. But the statistics cannot lie. Thailand’s birth rate has steadily declined over the years due to massive campaigns popularizing artificial contraceptives while we have one of the highest birth rates in Asia, triggering radical moves for two-child policies by some sectors in Congress. For the longest time the Church has been proven wrong and their advice invalid for continuing to insist that Filipinos undertake natural methods of birth control supplemented by an inept government policy such as the one we have now but the Church remains steadfast in its pressure. The birth rate steadily rises but the food supply immensely declines and a very large percentage of this population outburst is contributed by the D and E sectors of society who live with less than two dollars a day, scarcely enough for adequate food consumption. What then does the Church intend to do with this, make them fall in line in their soup kitchens? But the more important focus should be on what the government can effectively do to manage the population boom.

The first big step it should to is to stop kowtowing to the demands and pressures of the Church as it is the biggest obstacle in truly advancing a scientific form of population management sans their threats of immorality and moral bankruptcy. The government and the Church cannot play blind to the objective reality that their population policy does not work and henceforth demands a more effective solution as that of artificial contraception. The SWS survey gave positive claims of chronic hunger among the country’s poor and adding more Filipinos in this statistics without food nor the basic necessities to survive is far more immoral than the Church sponsoring artificial contraception and letting the people choose what to do with their lives. The state must first purge itself of the influence peddled by the Church as the self-proclaimed beacon of the country’s morals because one of the most fundamental hindrances to development is a culture of distorted norms with double standards of morality and ethics and the Church in the Philippines is certainly one of the best models for that.
Manuel Dayrit should heed the call of the Thai Senator rather than insisting that the poor buy the contraceptives themselves instead of the government providing them. He cannot sit pretty and wait in the face of worsening hunger and poverty. (Pun intended) Government population policy should be realistically crafted to respond in the most effective manner to issues concerning overpopulation and only a health secretary with balls can do it. (pun intended again)

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