The Duterte administration’s experts should stop sticking to the wrong policy of past administrations that blamed the country’s economic woes on population growth, according to Rep. Lito Atienza of Buhay party-list.
“I am very disappointed that the President’s economic planners are still in the habit of using the country’s growing population as an alibi for failure, as previous administrations have done before them,” Atienza, also House senior deputy leader, said on Friday at the start of budget hearings in Congress.
Atienza questioned a recent statement of National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Ernesto Pernia that full implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law could have helped speed up poverty reduction in the country.
“The economic projections for our country are all upbeat and positive. So why is it that our economic planners are giving this administration an alibi for failure by blaming the country’s growing population for the slow alleviation of poverty in the country? Except for the Arroyo administration, why are they committing the same mistakes that other previous administrations have made?” he said.
Instead of implementing genuine poverty alleviation programs like employment generation and providing livelihood opportunities for the poor, the government, according to Atienza, is still blaming the population for the country’s poverty.
“It is very ironic that the country’s growing population, a big majority of which is composed of overseas Filipino workers whose billions of dollars in remittances are keeping the economy afloat , is again being conveniently used as an alibi for government’s failure to effectively address poverty. We have always maintained that the RH Law is anti-life, anti-family and anti-poor. It is a population control measure disguised as a responsible parenthood and Reproductive Health Law,” the lawmaker, also a former mayor of Manila, said.
Atienza pointed out that the country is “fortunate” to have a leader like President Rodrigo Duterte who is giving priority to the needs of the poor and is “the only President to have confronted the drug menace frontally.”
The President, he said, is determined to stamp out the drug menace.
“Ninety percent of crimes are drug-related, something that no other President seemed to have addressed squarely. We know that after dealing with the drug problem, President Duterte will focus his attention on corruption. Drugs and corruption are twin diseases that cause poverty. A stable peace and order condition and good governance are essential if our country is to achieve progress–not population control,” Atienza added.
“Good and effective governance is what we need to attain progress,” he said.