Valenzuela solon urges SC to decide on the fate of RH Law

January 16, 2014 11:24 pm 

MANILA, Jan. 16 — In light of the ballooning population of the country, Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday appealed to members of the Supreme Court (SC) to decide on the fate of Reproductive Health (RH) Law.

While waiting for the SC decision, Gatchalian urged the government to redesign a “population management” program relevant to the Philippines’ current socio-economic setting.

“There’s a need to manage our population growth in relation to our economic growth and available resources. We cannot rely on programs designed 20 years ago since population management is very dynamic and it has to adopt to the current state of our economy,” Gatchalian said citing a report from the National Statistics Office (NSO) that the country's population will reach 100 million mark by the middle of this year.

The Valenzuela solon said that population should be seen from the perspective of economics with efforts directed toward human resource development.

“Population is a double-edged sword. With the population reaching 100 million, it can be both a curse and a benefit. It is true that population is considered as an asset for a developing country, but given the Philippines’ roller-coaster economic growth, it may turn out to be a burden when population increases uncontrollably,” Gatchalian explained.

According to come-backing solon, the small pie that every citizen shares becomes smaller if the population growth becomes beyond control.

“It is a liability if we don’t have the necessary resources to support its basic needs such as education and health. It can be an asset if it reaches the demographic sweet spot. But it can only reach the demographic sweet spot if the populace is educated and productive,” he stressed.

He noted that the Philippines had to grow between 4.0 to 5.0 percent conservatively for the next 10 years to realize this as a demographic sweet spot for the country.

“With our economy moving at a snail’s pace, with joblessness and poverty directly impacting our people’s miseries, and urban exodus is yet to be adequately addressed, a swelling population means more hungry souls to feed,” Gatchalian said saying that poor population management and planning threaten whatever economic gains that the country has.

“That’s why there’s a need to have a solid population management program given the paradigm shifts, the economic imbalances, food security issues, resource distribution, employment growth and many other things. Some people would just not accept the fact that our present economic state is not ready to cushion the problems umbilically connected to population growth,” Gatchalian stressed.

He pointed out that if the government does not review or update its current policies in managing the country’s population, the ballooning index will only exacerbate the already vulnerable socio-economic situation.

“Our large population may lead to mass exodus of talents to other countries. This may result in brain drain and broken families. The bottomline here, the country just doesn’t have the adequate and decent employment opportunities for everyone,” the solon said.

For the last decade, the Philippines’ poverty levels never went down despite the billions of pesos spent in poverty reduction programs.

“The reality is that the lower income bracket of society is growing much faster than the higher income earners. This means that we need to subsidize more social support for the lower income bracket. If we continue this kind of scenario in the next 10 years — and we don’t address the high population growth rate — the social subsidies the government is currently providing will reduce long-term investments in much needed infrastructure consequently curtailing further growth,” Gatchalian said.

He further explained that appropriate population management policies should be put in place so that there can be a balance between the economic foundation for growth and long-term sustainability of resources.

He added that having a 100 million population by 2015 is likely to undermine the social support systems being provided by the government.

“Population growth is a paradox. There is a correlation between population, economics, health and security. No matter how we justify the opportunities that may come with it, the underlying problem will still be reduced to the availability of resources such as land, food, water, fuel, housing and jobs,” Gatchalian concluded. (PNA)



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