A member of “get real Philippines” has asked me to publicize their site and I am happy to oblige. I am not sure whether this website is linked in any way with Nic Perlas—whom I wrote about a while ago—but the concept is similar; addressing the factors that hold the Philippines back in a holistic way.
I turned straight to an essay on population control by Manuel Gallego III, since without family planning and population control it is hard to see how the Philippines can "get real". [See these two sites for opinions that family planning in the Philippines is “genocide” or “fascism”.] Gallego provides data projecting that in the period to 2050 the populations of the UK and Japan will decrease by 2% and 25% respectively, while that of the Philippines will increase by a staggering 86% to almost 154 million. I have read estimates that are even more pessimistic and put the Philippines' population doubling time at 29 years. The implications of that are just too much to take in.
Gallego also proposes a number of practical measures to help the Philippines achieve zero population growth. This is where it gets tricky.
Some of his suggestions are non-controversial, such as tax deductions for institutions practicing zero population growth and free college education for families with one child. Others are extremely contentious, such as eliminating welfare benefits for families with more than one child. Since that means “free” public education, which is available today up to the high school level to all Filipino families at a nominal cost, the social implications would be huge and, to be honest, I am not sure that ending free schooling would really drive down the population growth rate.
Nor do I agree with the proposal to provide free powdered milk for each family having only one child — this just encourages enormously wasteful expenditure on infant formula when study after study has shown that breast milk is best for babies.
Most controversial of all is this proposal:
Compulsory sterilization and elimination of voting rights of parents of street children. While this example hardly qualifies as an incentive and may indeed be branded an outright violation of human rights, consider the following statistics on street children in the Philippines:
• There are 50,000 to 70,000 street children in Manila. Action International Ministries
• There are an estimated 1,200,000 street children in the Philippines. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), 1991 Jubilee Action, 1992
• It is estimated that there are 1.5 million street children working as pickpockets, beggars, drug traffickers and prostitutes. End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT)
I doubt whether this would ever fly—the problems that arose from the compulsory sterilization campaign in India during the “Emergency” in the 1970s would surely put any other Government off repeating the mistake. I’m against it, but in passing I should mention that over the weekend I was talking to someone who works with a charity for streetchildren who said basically the same thing. The views of people like her, who are left to deal with the consequences of irresponsible parenting, have to be taken into account, though, as I said, I don't think coercion is the way to go.
Gallego’s suggestions are intriguing but I don’t think anything will beat easy access to contraceptives and public awareness campaigns.
Anyway, although I have mentioned a few areas in which I disagree with “get real Philippines”, I think it is a great site with lots of thought-provoking stuff on it. Check it out—you’ll like it.