Population Programs in the Philippines: Money for Nothing
February 23, 1998
The Philippine government's artificial birth control program, funded largely by the World Bank, USAID, and the UNFPA, is a failure and a redundancy on five fronts:
1. Financial Drain. It is an enormous and scandalous financial drain on the Philippine government's budget, much of which is drawn from taxes paid by Catholics and Muslims (both of whose faiths are directly violated by the program). Funding for contraception is by nature recurrent; perceived gains made over a year can be sustained only by ploughing in more money next year. Over 20 years from 1970 to 1990, it has cost our people over three billion pesos (P3,000,000,000), but has not significantly achieved its self-assigned goals of reducing poverty or improving quality of life. This is because artificial contraception is incapable of accomplishing those goals. It is powerless in removing the yoke of poverty from our people. It is impotent in improving the lot of victims of economic inequity, which is the real cause of poverty.
2. Managerial Waste. The contraceptive program's management machinery is a nightmare. It fields 2,500 full-time workers, supports 50,000 subsidized "volunteers," and retains a coordinating staff of over 300 with vague managerial responsibilities. These do not include the numerous clinic personnel in the Department of Health's bureaucratic network, and hundreds of private agencies which opportunistically mushroomed from the outpouring of foreign funds. While POPCOM's field force is among the best-trained and qualified government workers, the disarray at central management level renders it impotent. If this whole network were channeled instead into the government's livelihood program, these well-trained government workers would most likely be more productive and more professionally trained.
3. Political Deception. The authoritarian regime from 1969 to 1986 forced the contraceptive program upon our people not only to court external funding, but also to set up a "whipping boy," a convenient excuse for the regime's failure to engineer real development. Even as early as 1982, local governments who were coerced into co-financing the government's contraceptive campaign (which included IUD-safaris and massive sterilization drives) had already withdrawn their support. The marketeers of artificial contraception employ coercive means, even if the program itself deceitfully waves the banner of "non-coercion." Witnesses attest to outright insertion of IUDs and prescription of sterilization methods without proper diagnosis or even consent. The "high scenario" strategy adopted by the government in 1983 and continued by the succeeding administrations, imposes performance quotas on field personnel to "recruit" acceptors of all kinds of contraceptive methods, including sterilization. In the name of health, our government has sterilized more Filipinos than Hitler sterilized Jews! And the present health machinery has gone as far as violating national laws, in its determination to promote unlicensed abortifacients: injectables such as Depo-Provera and implants such as Norplant.
4. Cultural Incongruence. Contraception goes against the grain of Filipinos, who traditionally and authentically respect life, and who see in children not only resources for production, nor only means of security for the future, but also a blessing from God and an expression of gratitude to Him. American propaganda and aid policy have portrayed this pro-life orientation as "anti-development", and the contraceptive establishment has gradually inculcated in Filipino minds the absurd proposition that fewer children mean more happiness. Yet the impotence of past national governments in mobilizing our people's labor resources, and its squandering of the nation's capital assets, were the real problems. Why should we change our positive values to make amends for incompetence and corruption? Children are God's gifts to us. Should we sacrifice them to make up for the failures of our political and economic leaders? The strong Philippine rejection of the Cairo Conference proposals conveyed the pulse of the nation against the contraceptive ethic.
5. Moral Erosion. The message of the contraceptive mentality undergirding any artificial birth control campaign, is that the exercise of sexual desire should be "liberated" from the discipline of marriage and from its responsibility for ensuing life - as if marriage and parenthood were burdens, and life, a curse! It rests on the perverse proposition that our sexual faculties are designed to give us free rein for physical pleasure. Some of those who stand for contraception even go as far as training adolescents and pre-school children on how to prevent pregnancy, rather than why and how to avoid pre-marital sex. It is incontrovertibly proven that a strong contraceptive program leads eventually to legalization of abortion, as it desensitizes contraceptive users to the value of conception, and therefore of life.
Antonio B. de los Reyes is an economist by training, and is currently managing associate of the Grid Philippines Management Corporation. He serves as CEO of Habitat for Humanity (Philippines), and Vice Chair of the International Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity International. From 1978-1982 he served in various capacities within population control organizations, among them Executive Director of the Commission on Population, the government agency that coordinate s and executes the population policy of the nation.