PRESIDENT-elect Rody Duterte has counseled us, the media, not to believe him when he utters outrageous things. He says when he utters incredible things he means those statements to be treated as jokes. “Huwag ninyong patulan ‘yun,” he seems to have actually said or we imagined to have heard him say.
We knew his words about jet skiing to the Spratlys and planting our flag on an island there belongs to this genre of DU30 jocular statements. Which is why we wrote a tongue-in-cheek editorial about it.
But sentences have also flowed from his mouth that were not made in mock-seriousness to signal that they were being spoken in jest. So his audiences, including us, are hard put to discern whether in these utterances some joke is intended or not.
An example of this was what he told reporters on Sunday, May 22. He said he would run a family-planning program and would promote a three-child policy.
That’s funny. Why three? Why not two? Or even one if the aim is reducing the Philippine population?
China’s one-child policy
The one-child policy within the People’s Republic’s comprehensive family planning and birth control policy is lauded by birth-control enthusiasts as the most successful such undertaking in the world. The Chinese government introduced it in 1978. It was not a policy of the Maoists, as some Chairman Mao Zedong haters outside China want people to believe. The Maoists were, like serious Christians, promoters of life—specially Chinese life. As a result of the one-child policy, China’s population was massively reduced—and the government was relieved of the pressure of producing enough food, shelter and clothing for a population of about 1.3 billion (or one-fourth of mankind at the time) and still had the means to build and strengthen industries and develop entire provinces and regions into productive economies.
China’s one-child policy was gradually relaxed in around 2000 and was officially declared to be no longer in force in 2015.
How effective was the PRC’s one-child policy? No one really knows, since data from inside China are not completely reliable. The Chinese government claims that 400 million births were prevented by the one-child policy.
The government recently changed the one-child policy to the two-child policy. The new policy is covered by a law, which came into effect last January after the standing committee of China’s National People’s Congress enacted it on Dec. 27, 2015.
Mr. Duterte and family planning
President-elect Duterte spoke about the merits of family planning for an economy like ours. In what we thought was something meant to be another jocose turn, he attacked the Catholic Church’s opposition to family planning with the use of artificial means of birth control.
He berated the Church for approving only natural family planning, which he laughed at as something that “runs counter to biology.” He challenged the Catholic bishops to a debate on this subject. Very funny. That was on Sunday, May 22, Feast of the Holy Trinity.
Then on Wednesday, May 25, out came the news “Rody won’t impose 3-child policy.”
At first we thought Mr. Duterte was saying that the whole thing he had announced on Sunday was a joke. But no.
The Philippine Star’s Alexis Romero’s story with the headline “Duterte won’t impose 3-child policy” on May 25 was about a clarification Mr. Duterte had made on Monday, May 23.
“DAVAO CITY, Philippines – He won’t impose but merely encourage.
“Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte clarified Monday that he would not impose a three-child policy but would only encourage couples to limit the number of their children.
“ ‘I cannot force people to follow. We are just suggesting you are in good hands if you limit the number of your children,’ Duterte said in a press conference here.”
Not very funny.
But very enlightening—about the President-elect’s frame of mind.
He doesn’t want to impose his programs on people. He realistically knows that he can only encourage. He knows he cannot compel people to follow him.
So what are they talking about, those who worry that President-elect Rody Duterte is a potential dictator?