RH (and condoms) should crush the policy troglodytes


Marlen V. Ronquillo

SENATOR Tito Sotto should look at the career of Al Franken, to learn, though belatedly, how comedy can be solid training for smart politics. Minnesota’s Al Franken transitioned from comedy (writing for Saturday Night Live) and poking fun at right-wing bigots in American politics to progressive politics and a Senate seat.

There is no prescription period for policy transitioning, from backward to forward, from suffocating orthodoxy to political enlightenment.

Franken recently demolished the education cred of Trump’s education pick Betsy DeVos during a confirmation hearing for DeVos via a simple question on the difference between “ proficiency” and “ growth”—the two current benchmarks for evaluating the performance of the young in schools. DeVos flunked the question, and showed to the world that being a billionaire cannot be equated with being informed about the sector you were appointed to head.

To be more frank, Mr. Franken clearly demonstrated that a fat bank account and political connections and years of crusading for favored conservative issues (the DeVos persona) do not vest one with brain power.

From Franken, Mr. Sotto would learn, first and foremost, how not to be a policy troglodyte. He should learn fast before his policy backwardness inflicts more harm on society, the poor in particular.

Why am I saying this? Where can Mr. Sotto inflict harm on society through his policy preferences?

Mr. Sotto, in a recent outburst, said he would oppose the confirmation of Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, after she expressed a determination to distribute condoms to those adult enough to use the condoms in public schools across the country. Condoms are part of our tame RH law and they are the least harmful of the varied RH tools. They are easily accessible, easy to use and really effective. What MsUbial said was routine enough and sensible enough.

Mr. Sotto, they are just condoms and they have multiple uses, particularly on the very urgent agenda of controlling our exploding population growth. MsUbial’s condom distribution plan is not even the hard-core strategy that Mr. Duterte favors. There is no moral or ethical question involved.

Again, they are just condoms. If the young do not want to use them they can be popped into balloons. To oppose MsUbial’s confirmation on those grounds is both silly and dangerous.

Why is controlling the exploding population growth more compelling and pressing than Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs? For Mr. Sotto’s enlightenment, this is the basic data.

Population growth is 2.2 percent a year or more. We are already past the 108 million population mark, a small, crowded-out country teeming with squatters in both the urban areas and the countryside. Mr. Sotto can’t go far from his gated compound without the sight of grim urban slums and desperate people on small wooden carts and on the sidewalks they call home. The 12th largest in terms of population and only the 73rdin terms of actual area. Is Mr. Sotto aware of the figures 12thand 73rd? Worse, we are fast losing territory to China. We have a country about the same size as New Mexico and Arizona. This is a country that can’t feed the hungry and give shelter to the homeless. And at the root of all these is our exploding population rate.

Poverty is officially measured at plus 21 percent but it is more. Millions of Filipinos do not even realize we are a country because of the limitations of the state’s reach. Eight to 10 million children are bound to live wasted lives due to extreme malnourishment.

Population growth is 2.2 percent or more a year. Over the past several decades, food production has not even averaged 1.7 percent growth. Malthus has been universally discredited but what he wrote seems to perfectly apply here.

The criminals that Mr. Duterte wants to extinguish are mostly not born criminals. They just had the misfortune of being born and raised under miserable conditions. That is not even Marxism, it is reality.

Mass poverty. Crime. Desperation. Lives permanently incarcerated behind the invisible walls of hopelessness. Reining in the population growth through condoms is not even a radical proposition given these conditions.

What compelling arguments should get into the 19thcentury mind-set of Mr. Sotto to appreciate the compelling need for population control? Under that policy scheme, the condom is an easy, practical and cost-efficient tool.

The “demographic sweet spot” argument is often invoked by the policy troglodytes to harangue against population control. For every youth that gets into the job market, anywhere from six to 10 are living wasted young lives, lives without hope and without redemption. Those with promise are dwarfed in real numbers by those bound to be EJK victims, or just plain drags on the limited safety net programs of the state. The last glorious up-from-the-bootstrap story was that of the late former President Diosdado Macapagal, who was born in 1910.

There is really no clear way forward except a determined RH policy that allows everything on the books, all the tools that fall short of abortion.

Better if we have a two-child policy. The best choice, and it should have a longlife span, is a one-child policy.


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    Yonkers, New York
    25 January 2017

    I sincerely congratulate Marlen V. Ronquillo for this highly enlightening column, “RH [and condoms] should crush the policy troglodytes,” in The Manila Times of January 25, 2017, on the critical subject of the Reproductive Health Law and devoting a lot of space on Senator Vic Sotto who happens to be the FIFTH COLUMN of the Roman Catholic Church in the Senate, and who is the same instrument who succeeded surreptitiously in Machiavellian fashion to take out P1 BILLION from the 2016 budget of the Department of Health, which was specifically intended for Family Planning.

    Without an effective National Population Control Program which tames the country’s rate of population growth from one which which doubles it every 35 years or so, to Replacement Rate within the next 20-25 years, there is no way it could ever get out of the quagmire of widespread and chronic poverty which now afflicts some 30 million Filipinos. It will continue to be “The sick man of Asia!”


  2. J Alphonse DeMaio on

    Great article Marlen V. Ronquillo. . . . Comparing Senator Tito Sotto to US Senator Al Franken is too generous to the former and an insult to the latter. Senator Sotto is more like a birthday clown who failed to show up for the birthday he was hired for, and blundered into a drunken meeting in the street corner, and he thought he was the smartest of the lot.

  3. “Better if we have a two-child policy. The best choice, and it should have a longlife span, is a one-child policy.”

    Our neighbors, China & Singapore, have walked this route and are trying hard to backpedal. This experiment did not work well for them, and despite Singapore being a very young nation, it is already quite concerned with preventing a demographic crisis.

    I would also add that the plan of the Health Secretary infringes on parental rights, and no government should be able to do to children what parents would not want done to their kids. Let parents raise their kids as they see best, rather than impose something that may run counter to the fondest plans of a mother and father for their sons and daughters.