PH warned it may end up like Somalia

PH warned it may end up like Somalia
By Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Like Somalia, the Philippines may become a failed state in 40 years if the reproductive health (RH) bill is not passed by Congress and the country’s rapid population growth is unchecked, an American population expert said Thursday.

Malcolm Potts said the Philippines would suffer far worse economic, environmental and even national security problems if the population would reach a projected 160 million by 2050.

“I think this is probably the most important single issue facing this country … the consequences of having perhaps 160 million people in 40 years time are very, very somber,” he told a population conference at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Makati City.

Potts works for the Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability of the University of California, one of the organizers of the conference titled “Demographic Governance: The Philippines’ Way Forward.” The agency’s partners were the AIM, Venture Strategies for Health and Development and the Asia Society.

“Unless the RH bill goes through and unless you are able to offer the poorest economic quintile the choices that they deserve, then people will be poorer. You will be importing food, you will be more like Somalia than Thailand,” Potts said.

“I think these (data) charts should give us all nightmares—those who love this country and have been here many times and those of you who belong here and love your country,” he added.

The RH bill seeks to promote both natural and artificial birth control methods through government programs and advocates the education of students on reproductive health at the appropriate age, among other aims.

It is being strongly opposed by the Catholic Church, which prohibits the use of artificial means of family planning such as birth control pills and condoms, and only favors natural means such as abstinence and the use of fertility beads among women.

Advocates in the House of Representatives expect the controversial measure to be passed by June next year, or the end of the first year of the 15th Congress.

According to a conference briefing paper, population pressures can also “increase environmental degradation and may push more people into areas more prone to natural disasters.”

The Philippines already faces severe environmental problems, the paper noted.

The country has less than 10 percent of its forest cover and coral reefs, less than 50 percent of its ground fresh water resources is potable while untreated domestic wastewater threatens water bodies further, and diseases from polluted water—which account for 31 percent of the total illnesses in the country—cost P6.7 billion annually.