The population control fallacy was debunked 35 years ago
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-09-06
On March 22, 1972, Ernesto Macatuno of the pre-Martial Law Sunday Times Magazine featured the arguments of the eminent Professor Emmanuel Q. Yap (then secretary-general of the Asian Development Center and head senior member of the Congressional Economic Planning Office) against population control as a means of curbing poverty.

In 1972, Population Control was already a burning issue even when there were only 37 million Filipino mouths to feed and the Philippines was still a leading economy in Asia.

Following are excerpts from that article as these views relate to specific aspects of the Population Control issue.

Roots of the population control fallacy

"This is a favorite line of the World Bank. Its president, Robert McNamara, has been telling us Asian nations that we are poor and will always be poor and will become even poorer because our population continues to grow at too fast a rate."

"I find it obnoxious, this interference of the state on an individual's sacred right. While those who advocate family planning say that they work on persuasion, and that nobody is forced to submit to the methods of birth control they teach, I say that there is a very thin line dividing persuasion and compulsion."

Enough resources to meet the needs

"The Philippines has enough natural resources and the technological know-how and the intelligent people to support a population twice and even thrice the present one. At 37 million I consider the Philippines still under populated."

"It is true that the great masses of the Filipino people are poor, very poor. But this is not because there are too many of them and that there are too few resources, but that the resources and the technological know-how are used for and are controlled by only a few Filipinos and foreigners."

Immorality of population control

"In other words, the majority of Filipinos are being robbed of their right to use and enjoy and live by the country's resources and technological know-how. And here come these proponents of family planning now telling them that it is because they produce too many babies. These poor families can support more children if only they are not deprived of the use and enjoyment of the country's resources."

The economy, not population, should adjust

"I say that the economy must be adjusted to the people, not the people to the economy. What we need to do is not to curb our population growth, but to rationalize our economy, meaning that we must develop an economy that is for, of and by the people. What we have at present is a maldistribution of wealth and an irrational use of our resources and industries. What we have is an economy controlled and owned by only a few Filipinos and vested foreign interests."

"If the administration has developed the ability to effectively exercise the imperatives of Filipino political economics we would not have to succumb to ridiculous impositions and economic policies such as the admonition of Western powers that we must gear our population to our rate of economic growth."

"We have what it takes."

Not the solution

"A small population for the Philippines is no guarantee that it will move ahead at a faster rate, that there will be an equitable distribution of wealth or means to acquire wealth with more resources to be divided among a less number of people. We cannot honestly say, for example, that the Philippines was economically and socially better off at the turn of the century, when our population was not even one-third of the present one. The comforts and conveniences around us that we now take for granted were non-existent then. In short, science and technology have improved the quality of life of the Filipinos, and will improve it further with the rationalization of our economy."

"But now that we are an independent country, we'll have to stand on our own feet. We cannot continue to rely on US help in the same manner that we should stop allowing these impositions of the United States on our economy."

* * *

Like your Chair Wrecker, Prof. Yap did not see the logic or wisdom in seeking to eradicate the victims of an inequitable socio-economic-political system rather than to change the system that promotes large scale poverty.

Seven years before this Sunday Times Magazine article was published, the Philippines was recognized as the second best economy in Asia — next only to Japan. We became a laggard not because we made more Filipinos babies but because the wealth of the country was monopolized by the few who control the Philippine economy.

Who is to dictate which Filipino is to be allowed to be born or not? Are we to listen to Robert McNamara the disgraced architect of the Vietnam War?

Who is to say that the Filipino who will not be allowed to be born is going to be the next Apolinario Mabini, the great National Hero who was born to a poor family? Following the logic of population control advocates, Jesus Christ would not have been born.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo