Population’s a lot of bull. Education’s a lot of bull sheets

mblc united nations MANILA - “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on,” Carl Sandburg says. Statistics is Man’s opinion that the mathematics of it should be reconsidered. “Be fruitful,” God said. “But not multiply,” Man said. Man has taken God out of the equation.

Yes to reproductive health? It so happened that on my birthday last year, Noynoy Aquino was pronounced “definitely pro-RH” (I’m definitely not) - but on 01 February 2010 at the ABS-CBN News Channel’s Youth Forum (debate) at the De La Salle University in Manila, presidentiable Noynoy was talking about “responsible parenthood” debating with himself, saying he wanted “Filipinos to be educated on the various methods of family planning and be free to choose which method they prefer” (ANN, pinoyexchange.com). That’s like saying we need a new law to educate the masses; what’s the matter - the mass media can’t be trusted?

In the same Manila youth forum early this year, presidentiable Manuel Villar was delightfully more logical:

A well-managed economy would be able to provide (for) a big population, the kind of life that they want. Huwag natin gawing batas. Dapat ang pamahalaan ang mag-ayos ng ekonomiya. Let’s not legislate it. It’s the government who should work out the economy.

Manny Villar’ politics is the politics of addition; Noynoy Aquino’s politics is the politics of subtraction. I like addition. Addition is constructive; subtraction is destructive.

In fact, Noynoy Aquino was co-author of the Senate version of the RH bill (ANN, 16 September 2009, ucanews.com). ANN says:

The bill, last discussed in the Senate on May 5, provides for the creation of a National Policy on Reproductive Health funded by the state. This would include maternal health-care services, family planning supplies and services, and mandatory reproductive health and sexuality education beginning in fifth grade.

“He (Noynoy Aquino) recognizes that we have a population explosion” (Cocoy, 17 March 2010, thepoc.net). I recognize that perception, but where’s the scientific proof of that explosion?

On her part, beauty queen Ms Gemma Araneta (mb.com.ph) writes that the government cannot achieve the GNP “that can cope with unplanned, wanton population increase.” Ms Gemma, when the population of the Philippines was only 25 million, were we all rich and none was poor? When the population became 50 million, did we become half-rich and half-poor? Now that we are 100 million, are we now 10% rich and 90% poor? Please don’t reduce life to mere mathematics.

Gel Santos Relos says (typepad.com): “What the Catholic Church can’t do is to use force or intimidation to hold hostage the very same right of Filipinos of different faith - the right to choose according to their own conscience.” Frank H: And isn’t force or intimidation that which the RH bill wants to do to people? Choose contraception or else!

Ms Relos says, “The right to choose according to their own conscience” which birth control method to use - she is assuming that the people have been properly educated on “reproductive health.” And she is assuming that over-population is the problem, so population control is the solution. If you cannot describe the disease, you cannot prescribe the cure or treatment.

Ms Relos interviews Noynoy Aquino in his recent US visit: “Mr President, Most experts agree, particularly in developing countries, the key obstacle to economic prosperity is unbridled population growth.” My favorite lawyer Perry Mason would have immediately blurted out, “Leading the witness!” and the judge would have said, “Sustained!” That’s called a leading question; you are actually feeding him the answer you want from him. They must teach some law in journalism schools from now on.

Population growth: In 2000, the growth rate was 2.36%; this year, it is estimated at 1.9% (Carla Gomez, 05 March 2010, inquirer.net), which is not “unbridled population growth” by any stretch of the imagination. Ms Relos, you based your question on an assumption that “most experts agree” - Name me 2 experts! The Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia?

Here’s my expert; here’s a population bombshell from the eminent economist Bernardo M Villegas, who says some people are making it appear that there is population explosion when in fact, “population statistics are being doctored” - for instance, they added 146,582 babies to the actual births in 2000 (19 September 2010, mb.com.ph):

The inflated figures that some gullible journalists unwittingly accept can mislead economic and social planners, including legislators who are pushing the RH bill and other population control measures on wrong and even deliberately doctored data.

More to the point, Villegas says undoctored statistics “clearly show that the Philippine population is no longer exploding but is following the trend observed in other countries, both rich and poor, where family attitudes have tended towards smaller family sizes resulting (in) graying/aging populations.” Those who are scared of the population bomb, he says, are victims of the “doctors of statistics.” “Figures don’t lie, but liars will figure,” Charles Grosvenor says (lucastxonline.com). Go figure!

Not satisfied? I will now present to you the highest expert in the land: President Benigno Aquino III. When he was running for President, what was his battlecry? “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” No corrupt, no poor. Get rid of corruption and you get rid of poverty.

Now then, for your votes, Noynoy Aquino was telling you that corruption was the #1 cause of the poverty of this country. And 40% of you voters elected him President, which means 4 out of 10 voters agreed with his claim, Noynoy Equation #1: Corruption equals Poverty. Here was a knight in shining armor to battle the corrupt. I’m glad it was the minority who was wrong.

Now Noynoy Aquino wants us to believe in Noynoy Equation #2: Population equals Poverty. It’s the people who are the problem, not the corrupt. So, the majority was right in rejecting Noynoy Equation #1, as he himself has rejected it by coming up with Noynoy Equation #2. So, has the knight turned red out of embarrassment, or turned yellow out of discouragement?

Note that 60% of the total votes cast is a majority, not a minority. In other words, the majority of voters did not think that Noynoy was correct when he presented Noynoy Equation #1. And of course, the majority of voters are Roman Catholic. The majority is always right!

So now, Noynoy Aquino is getting rid of his big election issue of corruption by downsizing it?

But in fact, it seems to me that the advocates of reproductive health are emboldened by a sufficiency of funds (and fans) but suffer from insufficiency of facts and deficiency in logic.

On his part, Fr Ranhillo Callangan Aquino has “demanded that the Roman Catholic Church… be ready to convince the people - Catholics and non-Catholics alike - that the use of artificial means of contraception is not acceptable” (quoted by Val Abelgas, 06 October 2010, globalbalita.com). Fr Aquino, that is putting the cart before the horse. The issue is not whether contraception is not acceptable but whether contraception is the answer - and what, Fr Aquino, is the question? You did not ask, so I will: “Is over-population the main cause of poverty in the Philippines?” But before you answer that question, a prior question must be asked: “Can you prove that there is over-population in the Philippines today?”

I have 12 children - all from natural childbirth, the results of 1 marriage, 1 wife, zero extra-marital relationships, zero adoptions, zero multiple births, zero test-tube babies. I do not call it over-population; I call it family.

If those ladies and gentlemen of the Philippine Congress really believe in the wisdom of Noynoy Aquino as their President, they should instead file an anti-corruption bill. Since they have not done so, am I to believe that majority of the members of the current Philippine Congress do not buy the bull shit that corruption is the primary cause of poverty in this country?

Ms Relos: “The leaders of the Catholic Church … can and should use the pulpit, or whatever platform they want, to guide and enlighten their faithful followers in making the right and moral choice on this issue.” Frank H: I agree! And they have chosen the mass media as their multiple platform, so what’s your problem?

Fr Aquino: “The legitimacy of enactment is determined by its rational acceptability to all whom the law shall govern … If all that the Catholic Church can offer in opposition to the reproductive health bill is supposed argument drawn from its own reading of Scripture and the tradition of its teaching, that is argument that cannot be rationally accepted by other members of the Philippine political community who do not share our creedal premises.” In short, Fr Aquino is saying reason must prevail, not faith. Well, Fr Aquino, I have no faith in reason if it reasons out faith!

Not to be outdone, Representative Edcel Lagman says (quoted by Jess Diaz, 03 July 2010, philstar.com):

There is undeniable linkage between population and development because the issue on population directly affects human development indicators on health, education, food security, employment, mass housing, and the environment.

Mr Lagman, all what you’re saying is merely assertion; where is your scientific proof? In the United States where there is no “over-population,” are there no filthy poor, no hobos, no vagabonds, no beggars, no squatters, no unemployed; are they all healthy, educated, none is starving, all are housed, and is their environment invigorating?

Suppose the Reproductive Health bill is passed into law; suppose the budget for it is 5 billion pesos. But since Noynoy Aquino has not minded the corruption in government that he said existed and that he promised to get rid of once elected President, where does he expect the money to go?

Nancy Carvajal & Michael Lim Ubac say (inquirer.net) that a group of Catholics has “expressed support for the passage of the reproductive health (RH) law and disagreement with the bishops’ rabid opposition to it.”

That’s bad argumentation, or bad reporting. If they disagree with the bishops’ “rabid opposition” to the bill, what about the arguments of the bishops? They are only opposing the opposition, not arguing against the arguments.

Representative Arlene Bag-ao said in her letter to her President Noynoy Aquino that “the biggest stumbling block to a sober discussion of the RH bill is the refusal of some quarters to take the bill for what it truly is - a pro-life measure.” Is Ms Arlene telling me that the promotion of the use of a contraceptive pill is pro-life? That the promotion of the use of condom is pro-life? That distributing contraceptives in schools is pro-life?

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda says that when it comes to the number of children of a family, 2 is enough, 6 is too much (Evelyn Macairan & Delon Porcalla, 02 October 2010, philstar.com). Does that mean that the RH bill does not promote choice at all, only what its advocates choose to promote as the choice?

I said I have 12 children, all legitimate, biological. If you ask me if 12 is difficult, I will tell you yes. But not because I have the mentality of a beggar, or that I’m a lazy bone, or that I’m incompetent. To tell you frankly, when I took the competitive exam for Teachers in Pangasinan, I got a grade of 90.5%; the highest was a 90.6%, UP Los Baños vs UP Diliman, the 0.1% difference statistically insignificant. By the way, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t womanize, I don’t gamble. I never did. With my talent, don’t you wonder why I have had to struggle to feed and educate my family?

The problem is not the population - it’s the education, dummy! I still am able to read the blanket statement of former Education Secretary Jesli Lapus that must have been painted on school walls all over the country (I saw it on my way to Roxas, Isabela; I saw it on my way to Legazpi City, Albay): “Edukasyon ang solusyon.” How can education be the solution when in 2009 alone, more than 900,000 college graduates were facing joblessness? (Rainier Allan Ronda, philstar.com).

Your Filipino education mentality explains your Filipino diaspora. It’s neither Joseph Estrada’s nor Fidel Ramos’ nor Cory Aquino’s nor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s nor Benigno Aquino III’s failure to see that; it’s the failure of education officials since the first national educational curriculum was developed and promulgated - that of the University of the Philippines, in 1909 or thereabouts. Established by the Americans, of course. But we, especially UP, have not been better than the Americans when it comes to education. We have not seen beyond the white chalk and green blackboard and, in today’s high tech world, beyond PowerPoint. This is patent colonial mentality.

The problem with education is that it teaches only the value of education, looking for a job after school. It does not teach the value of entrepreneurship, creating a job and thereby creating jobs for others after training.

We have too many college graduates already! Too many diplomas, not enough business acumen. What we lack is access to resources to make a life for ourselves and others, to earn out of the sweat of one’s brow, or out of the ache of one’s fingers, or out of the brilliance of one’s ideas. The problem is that we are not entrepreneurs, and hardly anyone supports anyone else who wants to become an entrepreneur.

I’ll give you an example: the farmers. Why do the poor farmers remain poor? Because the market gobbles up the value they add to society; the middlemen stand between the farmers and better lives. And so I applaud the concept of the World Bank that it calls inclusive market-oriented enterprise - you must connect the farmers to the market so that they themselves benefit directly from that market. You must make the farmers entrepreneurs. But I applaud more the concept of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics with its Team Captain & Director General William Dar, derived from the World Bank concept that it calls inclusive market-oriented development - IMOD covers all, the village, not just a few farmer families. You must make the whole village entrepreneurial.

Now therefore, instead of a reproductive health law, I call for a productive, entrepreneurial health law. We need to produce more people who are enterprising; we need a population explosion of entrepreneurs!

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