Experts in demography, economics, law, and health — as well a married couple — addressed more than 300 UA&P students in a symposium on the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill on November 24 at the Li Seng Giap Auditorium.
Prominent economist and UA&P founder Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas cited international and award-winning economists in debunking claims of population growth as a cause of poverty.
Dubbed as the “Prophet of Boom” for his optimistic economic forecasts, he sees the Philippines’ large population as the factor that will keep Philippine economy afloat even amid global financial downturns, such as what happened during the recent global recession. The Philippines has enough internal market to sustain itself, he said.
Dr. Villegas, a PhD holder from Harvard University, formed part of the Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Philippine Constitution and one of those who articulated the right of the unborn and the duty of the State to protect the sanctity of the family.
Mr. Raymond Ganar, a nurse and national trainer for the World Organization of the Ovulation Method by Billings (WOOMB) International Philippines, also spoke, addressing questions about the plight of poor communities regarding maternal health issues.
Ganar revealed that some of the people he had helped through WOOMB were denied maternal health care by some social workers, after they were identified as non-users of artificial contraceptives.
A demography lecturer, Dr. George von Winternitz then described the so-called “demographic winter” now happening in some European countries. He stressed that, after they implemented birth control policies for decades, some of those states are now legalizing euthanasia. He said that those countries already have more old people than younger ones who could support them.
Von Winternitz also cited China’s population control policies as a cause of the country’s future “crash” due to its aging population.
“You will see China crash in your lifetime,” he said.
Atty. Eugenio Villareal, meanwhile, called for a serene and humane discussion on the RH bill. After taking his young audience to a brief review of the Philippine legislative system, he discussed some of the more salient and contentious provisions of the RH bill, including the proposed mandatory sex education in elementary and high schools.
Atty. Villareal also stressed the need to “maintain a healthy respect” between the two sides. He encouraged his audience to “provide alternatives,” should they disagree with the bill. Lastly, he urged them to “befriend the pro-RH people” instead of maligning them. That is how pro-life advocates can win over the pro-RH supporters, he said.
The last tandem to join the forum were pro-life couple Ms. Lora Tan-Garcia and Mr. Greg Garcia. Both are active in youth character education advocacy groups.
The “Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2010” — commonly known as the RH bill, among several versions of its kind — is being challenged by pro-life groups, including the Catholic Church, primarily for provisions promoting artificial contraception and legislating mandatory sex education. The bill’s first plenary deliberation last November 24 will be followed by another on December 8. #
Text by Mr. Daryl Zamora, Corporate Communications Office
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