Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

P-Noy should get complete check-up. Who footed bill at PICC gathering of local business organizations purportedly supporting RH bill? Did manifesto signatories represent their members' sentiments? IMFs’ Christine Lagarde lauds Ph’s ‘young population and fast-growing work force’---contrary to business groups’ stand on population control. But Lagarde stresses need to 'create sufficient productive jobs to absorb new labor force entrants.'

President Benigno Aquino III
Palace spokesperson Abigail Valte says heavy duties of state are taking their toll on President Aquino’s health. Indeed it does seem so. He was taken ill with a bum stomach in Sydney while on a state visit, skipping his after-dinner speech. Valte was again quoted the other day as saying that P-Noy’s stomach was again the culprit when he was forced to cancel a meeting with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde---delegating her briefing to VP Jejomar Binay. Other accounts said P-Noy had colds and the flu.

Whatever it is, P-Noy’s health seems to be suffering and my unsolicited advice, doubtless shared by many citizens, is for him to get a thorough physical check-up.  Health is of primary importance to the Chief Executive. And yes, he should cut down on smoking, if not totally resort to cold turkey---abrupt stopping. Eliminating smoking would certainly improve his health.


Representatives of various business and professional organizations gathered at the PICC last Thursday in what was billed as the “Summit on Family Planning in the Business Sector.”  It was not clear in media accounts who actually spent for it, but the impression some media got was that the bill was footed by a number of foreign pharmaceutical companies in the manufacture of contraceptives, among other products. The Embassy of the United Kingdom, the United Nations Population Fund, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the International Planned Parenthood Foundation were also mentioned.

It should be made clear to citizens of this country, however, who footed the huge bill for that PICC gathering, for there are charges of foreign meddling--- or more directly, “RH Imperialism”--- being foisted by a conglomerate of giant pharmaceuticals, certain UN agencies that aim to subject  120 million women from poor countries under their population programs by 2015, and Western countries led by the US and the UK. 

It has been pointed out by various commentators that as early as 1974, the US had already been looking at the direct relation between population control and US security and economic interests overseas---through the highly controversial "National security Study Memorandum 200," more popularly known as the Kissinger Report. 

At the PICC gathering last Thursday British Ambassador Stephen Lilli played a prominent role, as did the UK-originated pharmaceutical firm Zuellig through the Zuellig Foundation chaired by former Foreign Secretary Roberto Romulo.


Another query that ought to be raised is, when these various business groups signed that manifesto of support for a “national modern family planning program,” did they first put this stand to a vote among their respective memberships, or at least before their respective boards? It’s a fact that the RH issue has divided the country as few others have, and the various groups at PICC doubtless reflect deep division in their ranks. Did the organization reps truly represent consensus?


At the close of last Thursday’s session, representatives of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, the Makati Business Club, the Management Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Business for Social Progress were also reported to have committed to mobilize investments for family planning and other reproductive health services, and implement family planning programs for the poor as part of their corporate social responsibility.

Obviously the PICC gathering's support for the Aquino administration’s family planning program was meant as added impetus to the Senate push for the RH bill. In the House the counterpart bill has been in the doldrums, owing to failure of its supporters to show up, reportedly because they're already busy campaigning for 2013. 

But there’s also the fact that the bishops and clergy, as well as various Catholic organizations have been quite united in their stiff opposition to the bill. As I said in an earlier blog, I have never seen the Church as united as it is on this issue and its advocates could really make a dent in the coming elections.  

Given this fact in the House, pro-RH groups have been concentrating on the fight in the Senate, where the tactic is to support Sen. Pia Cayetano, the bill’s co-author, and demonize its staunch opponent, Sen. Tito Sotto.


To my mind, however, the more interesting point is the contradiction between all-out support reportedly of the various business groups for the RH bill, and some pronouncements made by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who was in Manila at the same time as the PICC gathering.  What do I mean?

Doubtless, it was not lost on the signatory groups that the term “family planning,” as used in the context of the ongoing national debate on the RH Bill in Congress, really refers, as the Bishops stressed in their Nov. 15, 2012 whole-page statement titled “Statements Against the RH Bill Amendments,”  to POPULATION CONTROL. Said the bishops: “Stripped of its bare essentials, THE BILL IS REALLY A POPULATION-CONTROL MEASURE.” 


It therefore seems to me that the business executives at  PICC had the wrong emphasis. Instead of curbing population drastically through massive use of contraceptives, as the RH bill they're espousing proposes to do, I would think  the business execs would want to conserve this gigantic consumer base and market for their products that the 93 million Filipinos command. The success of the Sy family's SM empire across the nation is glaring testimony to this fact.

I would also think that the business execs would appreciate the fact that the Ph labor force is the envy of virtually the whole world BECAUSE WE HAVE A VIBRANT AND HIGHLY TRAINABLE YOUNG LABOR FORCE (current media age: 23 years old) that our local companies and factories are assured of---instead of their suffering the predicament that Singapore, Japan and various European countries, notably Russia and France,  now have:  an aging population that threatens their economic well-being and social security pension fund. 

No less than the architect of Singapore, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, has stressed the predicament of the tiny but most prosperous island state in SEA: that if its population does not produce more babies, Singapore is in grave danger of EXTINCTION.  Lee has been playing doomsayer for the past few years, but Singaporeans have been so conditioned to population control that they have refused to heed his plea.


IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde

Various economic commentators here, such as former NEDA Chief and columnist Cielito Habito (rather wryly), have pointed out this enviable phenomenon of Ph's young labor force. 

In his Standard column, former Sen. Kit Tatad noted how the acting president of the African Union boasted that by year 2050, Africa will have the biggest young population, even as ageing afflicts the rest of the world.

 Ironically, here we want to kill that advantage through population control, kung hindi tayo sira ulo. 


No less than IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde stressed this point here last week, and I quote, as published in a broadsheet last Friday, Nov. 16: “…the Philippines is in the enviable position of having a young population and a fast-growing work force, whereas most advanced countries and even some emerging markets in Asia have populations that are aging rapidly. This provides the potential to maintain or even accelerate growth in the future.”

Lagarde, however, was quick to stress that “realizing the potential from this ‘demographic divided’ requires creating sufficient productive jobs to absorb new labor force entrants.”


Aye, Lagarde offers the solution that our manifesto-signing business executives should adopt to solve the country’s poverty and supposedly burgeoning population. This is, NOT TO CARPET-BOMB Ph with contraceptives, many of which are abortifacient and dangerous to women’s health, in order to control population growth--- but to provide much-needed training and education for our yearly emergent labor force, SO THEY COULD FIND JOBS.  

Once gainfully employed, they would manage the size of their families ON THEIR OWN, without dictation from an authoritarian government through highly-divisive legislation, but according to the dictates of their conscience.  

For comments/reactions, please email:

1 comment: