Illustration by Sam Immanuel R. Macaisa

POOR REP. Edcel Lagman (Albay), principal author of the Reproductive Health Bill No. 5043 (RH Bill). While he tries to avoid having his masterpiece pigeonholed as a “population control measure,” protesting that the label is misleading since it obscures its “health-care” dimensions, he can’t control its supporters from exposing its real nature.

We are referring to the statement of the economists of the University of the Philippines that basically supports the bill.

The fact that social scientists and demographers of the state university have come out strongly in favor of the bill should reveal that the RH Bill is a population-control, not a health-care, bill. Its real design is to stop mainly poor women from giving birth – by contraceptive hook or by abortifacient crook – allegedly because their offspring would add to the overpopulation of poor people in the country, an overpopulation not because the poor are fond of sex and generation, but because our leaders, lawmakers and policy planners — such as Lagman and the UP economists whose inane legislation and demographic assumptions are made out of researches and conferences paid for by taxpayers and the poor masses they want to neuter — have an overpopulation of harebrained ideas like population control and hocus-pocus economics.

The first thing that should be said about the UP position is that it’s dishonest; it does not acknowledge possible conflicts of interest. To be sure, some of the economists who signed the statement have benefitted from the population-control industry; their demographic studies and researches and their travel junkets have been financed by international agencies pushing for birth control and abortion. UP itself plays host to the Reproductive Center and the Population Institute, agencies pushing for population control. Although the agencies may be foreign- and privately funded, UP – and the Philippine government – provide counterpart funds, which come from taxpayers.

That taxpayer’s money is being used to finance programs that push for population control is one instance of mismanagement in the state university. Why people’s money is being used to curtail the pro-life provision of the Constitution—which declares it a state policy to protect life from the moment of conception—should unmask the nationalist pretensions and even treason of the so-called Iskolar ng Bayan.

UST tops boards anew

The second thing that should be said about the UP position is that it’s Neanderthal. To be sure, the best that the UP economists could provide to justify birth control is to find a correlation between family size and poverty incidence; and if they’re able to establish it, it is at best a dubious one. Their attempt merely confirms again that there’s no direct correlation between high birth rate and low economic growth.

At best, economic findings could only establish that the impact of population growth on economic development is neutral. Still, there are a lot of studies to show that a high population is a boost to economic development (Singapore, Japan and the industrialized nations) and a contraceptive mentality that discourages births and looks at children as a bane may result in demographic winter and social security problems (again, Singapore, Japan and the industrialized nations).

The UP position is archaic because even the Western media—the New York Times, Asiaweek, and Far Eastern Economic Review—have proclaimed population-control as one of the chief myths of the 20th century. Moreover, Nobel Prize-winning economists can prove their position wrong. Simon Kuznets denies any relation between population and economic growth. Amartya Sen disagrees with the Malthusian doomsday scenario that population growth would result in food scarcity; he notes that food production has generally increased in poor countries. (The so-called food crisis lately is caused by speculation and hoarding; in the Philippines, it’s caused by panic buying, poor policy planning and the historic bias against agriculture by a graft-prone and shortsighted leadership, of whom Lagman and his ilk are sordid examples). Gary Becker said world population has been on a slowdown, and that there’s simply no basis for state birth control in that context. Becker and Sen said the money for birth control is better used in programs directly addressing poverty.

‘Captain America’ and friends strike again

Deceptive healthcare bill

But, of course, Lagman et al insist on the bill as a healthcare measure, citing pregnancy-related complications and deaths. Apparently in their minds, while medical science is hard at work in looking for cures to cancer and outbreaks, they seem to view gynecology as languishing in a “prescientific” state so that it has not advanced at all in lessening the risks of pregnancy.

So since maternal science has stagnated, they want mothers not to become pregnant or if they become one accidentally—a condition they call as “unwanted pregnancy”—they want women to get rid of it altogether. Therefore, they would want a budget of P1.2 billion to spend on condoms, contraceptives, abortifacients, ligation and vasectomy. Never mind if most of these methods and operations basically violate the spirit and letter of the Constitution that mandates the state to protect life from conception.

The Lagman bill is touted to be a “pro-choice” bill but by its questionable provisions and the multimillion budget it demands to enforce the provisions, it is hard to believe it would be able to provide any room for choice among the mothers and couples it seeks to dictate upon. In fact, the Lagman bill is called the “two-child” bill because it seeks to impose an ideal family size through incentives and sweeteners, which presumably would be beyond the P1.2 billion initial price tag.

Lagman has been avoiding talking about the “two-child” rule, perhaps because it invites comparison with China’s disastrous “one-child” policy that forced couples to abort children. But the fact that his bill is very similar to the Chinese policy should indicate that both are animated by the same totalitarian spirit. The Chinese way was to enforce the limit by communist bullying; Lagman’s bill seeks to have its way by capitalist sugarcoating at first, and if worse comes to worse, by outright denial of social assistance to poor couples and families altogether. Nazi thuggery, Stalin’s Gulag, the Cultural Revolution and the Killing Fields are alive and well. All of these blend and mesh in Lagman’s horrendous pockmarked visage—“the horror, the horror.”

USTPH, pirangalang 'publisher of the year'

Martial Law restoration

But we need not go too far off history to appreciate the potential for excess and violation against humanity that the Lagman bill poses. We only have to look at our not too distant history. During Ferdinand Marcos’s Martial Law, population control was enshrined in the constitution; health care meant almost always birth control; many poor women were ligated, often without their consent; poor men were given free vasectomy or hoodwinked into getting one; poor big families were cast as social pariahs for adding themselves into the overpopulation of the poor masses.

Meanwhile, the conjugal dictatorship that had only three children but with a merciless appetite for corruption thrived, along with that of their oligarchs, provincial warlords, and military lackeys. Dissent was suppressed. There was widespread violation of human rights. Only the Catholic Church stood up to the totalitarian rule of Marcos. And the Church remains on the side of human and family rights up to now, so that she is opposed to the Lagman bill.

Lagman and his Marcosian ilk should realize that the Philippines has been there before—embracing birth control and social engineering based on the bull-headed Malthusian sham that population growth is a bane to economic development. They should realize that despite enshrining population control in the Martial Law constitution and implementing it ruthlessly, the Philippines did not prosper and develop one inch; instead, it became a basket case. Ergo, poverty and underdevelopment are not caused by population growth, but by corruption, mismanagement, and anti-poor policies.

Therefore, all Thomasians and true Filipinos should heed the call of the Catholic Church, its bishops and lay leaders, to reject the Lagman bill. Let us all reject the Lagman Conspiracy. Let us all reject its grand deception and its attempt to return the country to the dark days of Martial Law.


  1. Nothing but conspiracy theories and intellectual dishonesty. If those are the best arguments which the country’s “premiere” Catholic campus newspaper could give, then truly, your newspaper is only good for cleaning dog poop.

  2. reductio ad absurdum, reductio ad hitlerum, non sequitur, slippery slope, straw man. ALL IN ONE ARTICLE. incredible. is this is what i expect from a varsitarian issue, i want a refund of the money i paid to keep this organization running.

    • go ahead! magpa-refund ka!

      pero wag ka lang pupunta sa opisina ng varsi…kasi wala dun yung pera mo…baka magmukang tanga ka lang…sa treasurer’s office mo singilin…

  3. Then I suggest you come up with a “better” version of the editorial and write it here.

    Nothing can be 100% logically sound.


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