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MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said on Sunday he would rather that amendments to the 1987 Constitution are passed instead of the Reproductive Health bill, saying that pro-economic growth policies in the Charter are the better route to human progress than simply controlling population growth.
In a radio interview on Sunday, Enrile said he preferred amending the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution instead of passing the RH bill, now re-named Responsible Parenthood bill, in order to attract investments that will create jobs and provide people better economic means.
“We should pitch jobs creation, that is why we and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte are pushing the opening of the economic provisions, and providing the means to create more jobs especially for the poor, and so that they can provide for their children regardless of number,” he said.
Enrile said the main objective of the reproductive health bill is to control population growth in order to shrink the so-called dependent generations in society due to lack of jobs.
“The UN says we must limit population growth to only 2 percent. But NEDA chief (Arsenio Balisacan) said currently that growth is less than 2 percent, except that there are more of our people who are not yet of working age, from one year old to 16 years old. They are deemed burdens to society. But in the future, they will be our consumers, our taxpayers, our workers. They will be our farmers, doctors, teachers, among others,” he said.
Dependency, we cannot avoid that in any society. They are like a small tree that, when still small and not yet fruit-bearing, we take care of, knowing that in time they will do bear fruit. Like fingerlings, we don’t eat these small fish, we support them so you can benefit from them someday,” Enrile explained.
Exclude contraceptives as essential medicine clause
Enrile also asked proponents to exclude contraceptives such as condoms, pills and IUD (intrauterine device) from the essential medicine clause of the RH bill, which is only used to control population growth, but with no curative values on health.
“You’re going to tag them essential medicines? What disease does IUD treat? What is the purpose of the intrauterine device, except to reduce the number of people, to prevent pregnancies. Why, is pregnancy a disease?” Enrile asked.
“If they want to say the government will distribute IUD, don’t put it as a medicine,” Enrile added.
Enrile also asked proponents not to distort the “truth” about the bill which is essentially controlling population growth in order to attain their objective of maintaining their ideal family size.
“They don’t want people to know they’re simply just out to control the population . . . Let’s educate the people; if we say they’re poor, then let’s give them jobs. There are many ways [of easing poverty],” he added.
Amendments to RH bill
Enrile said he will propose amendments to the bill during the period of amendments, and there will be no interpellation after Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III finishes his turno en contra, which is expected to resume on Wednesday.
“I want to amend the bill; if the sponsors will accept these, thanks. If not, then let’s just vote on it. People will hold all of us accountable,” he said.
Enrile predicted that if the bill is not amended according to the present and future needs of our generation, the nation will be like other countries now suffering the consequence of statutory-controlled population growth, [where] generations of workers and youth are not growing, and they are all old now.
“Other countries now suffer the consequence of their laws, they acknowledge that now. Why do we wish to repeat their error? They may not feel it today in their lifetime, how about the next generation of our people who are innocent and will suffer from our mistakes today?” Enrile said.
He likened a nation’s population profile to a pyramid. There are more people at the base. But because of this law, he said, that normal structure might be reversed.
That, he said, will impact pension funds and shrink the economy. There won’t be enough pension funds to support old people retiring from the work force, because there will not be enough young people working and paying taxes.