MANILA, Feb. 10, 2015—Reacting to a recent Bloomberg report tagging the Philippines as Southeast Asia’s new “strongman,” with a young workforce that fuels economic growth, a Catholic priest has expressed sadness that despite the blessings human resource brings, the government solution to poverty is population control.
“The news hardly comes as a surprise. It validates the assertion that a strong and robust population is a great source of wealth for our country. Unfortunately, our government leaders and policy makers believed that a Malthusian approach, which considers a growing population as a threat to our nation’s economy, is a more effective way to spur economic growth,” said Fr. Jerome R. Secillano, parish priest of Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro Parish in Sampaloc .
Calling it a “population boon,” Bloomberg recognizes demographic dividend as one of five factors that have contributed to the Philippines’ impressive economic performance vis-a-vis Thailand’s.
The other four are: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, manufacturing boom, exports surge, and consumption swell.
The article reads: “About 31 percent of the Philippine population was 10-24 years old last year, compared with 20 percent in Thailand, according to the United Nations Population Fund. The average fertility rate in the Philippines from 2010-2015 is estimated at 3.1 percent compared with Thailand’s 1.4 percent. Little wonder then that Thailand is seeing the most rapid reduction in the ranks of its working-age population in Southeast Asia.”
Despite the government’s insistence that checking the country’s birthrate is a “pro-poor” measure, Secillano, who serves as executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Permanent Committee on Public Affairs (PCPA), pointed out that the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law “rejects and destroys what human resources can possibly contribute to our economy”.
“It’s a pity that the poor are actually seen as mere ‘mouths’ to be fed and not as partners for stirring economic growth,” he lamented.
While he admits that limiting the country’s population has its own positive economic impact, he stressed that its gains will not be for long.
The priest explained the Philippines needs a strong work force, especially as an aging population becomes unproductive.
Secillano used China and Singapore as examples of economically developed countries that have belatedly realized the negative effects of a “one-child” policy.
“The Philippines must learn from this experience and must be aware of what Pope Francis [called] a form of ‘ideological colonization’.
To read the full article, visit: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-01-30/move-over-thailand-the-philippines-is-southeast-asia-s-strong-man. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)