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HILARIOUS: GMA News’ Pro-RH Law Semantic Propaganda

January 13, 2013

Someone asked me on Facebook to send him a blog article I wrote that disproves the fallacy that economic growth follows demographic transition. The reason why that Facebooker would like to reread that article is “because of the documentary made by GMA News TV.”

Here’s what he said: “I was not able to watch it but based on this graphic and the caption, it appears that they are trying to imply that due to Thailand’s population control policy their GDP increased.”

His Facebook message also contains this link.

The thing is, I replied to the Facebooker without looking at his link. So, I was shocked– and went a little bit ballistic– when I saw this:

What a piece of sick joke! What an ugly piece of cheap propaganda! To think that it was posted by a Facebook group that calls itself GMA News TV Investigative Documentaries.

In effect, this GMA News TV Investigative Documentaries is telling its over 11,000 Facebook likers that since the Philippines failed to pass what it calls “Reproductive Health bill”, its population ballooned from 36.6 million in 1970 to 100 million in 2012. Thailand, which passed what GMA-something called National Population Policy in 1970, saw its population increased from 34.3 million in 1970 to only 67 million in 2012. In terms of economic growth, the Philippines performed poorly by simply registering over $200 GDP in 2011, while Thailand did better with over $345 GDP.

There are a lot of things that that Facebook page failed or intended not to include, such as the real reason why Thailand became more economically prosperous than the Philippines. Thailand is way more economically free than the Philippines, and economic growth has something to do with economic freedom and openness to business and trade. Although Thailand imposes restrictions on foreign investors, its protectionist laws and policies are not that restrictive compared to Philippine’s foreign investment policies. Foreign doctors and professionals are allowed to work and contribute to the Thai economy; they’re barred under our laws. So, this means that there are a lot of factors that explain Thailand’s lower population and higher GDP.

Another issue is the use of the term “Reproductive Health bill”. True, our government did not adopt a law specifically called “Reproductive Health Act”, but so did Thailand. The Thai government did not also pass a law with the same title. Why should both governments need to adopt that particular title or name when what matters is what a legislative proposal (or law, if it’s enacted) actually contains?

What GMA-something did is a very good form or example of semantic propaganda.

But here’s what GMA-something intentionally omitted: the historical fact that former president Ferdinand Marcos adopted the Philippine Population Program in 1970 through the Executive Order No. 233. Remember that during during the Marcosian era, the late dictator’s executive order had the same force and effect as any law promulgated by the rubber stamp congress then called Batang Pambansa. This law, which remains in force until today, states: “the population problem must be recognized as a principal element in long-range national planning if governments are to achieve their economic goals and fulfill the aspirations of their people.”

Ironically, Thailand adopted a measure called National Population Policy, which states:

“It is the policy of the Thai Government to support voluntary family planning in order to help resolve various problems related to the very high rate of population growth, which constitutes an important obstacle to the economic and social development of Thailand.”

GMA-something should have clarified that YES, both countries did not adopt what it calls “RH Law”, but both implemented national population policies in 1970.

Why did both countries implement population management/control measures during the same year?

The reason is because Marcos was among the thirty world leaders who urged other government leaders to join in recognizing “that family planning is in the vital interest of both the nation and the family.” By year 1970, at least 27 nations, the Philippines and Thailand included, had committed to reducing birth rates through government-backed population control programs.

Since that year the Marcos regime implemented the following measures:

  • 1971: Republic Act 6365, known as the Population Act of the Philippines was enacted into law by Congress. It declaration of policy states: “The Congress of the Philippines hereby declares that for the purpose of furthering the national development, increasing the share of each Filipino in the fruits of economic progress and meeting the grave social and economic challenge of a high rate of population growth, a national program of family planning which respects the religious beliefs of the individuals involved shall be undertaken.”
  • 1972: Presidential Decree 79 was signed directing public and private sectors to undertake a National Family Planning Program which respects the religious beliefs and values of individuals. Sounds like the RH law, right?
  • 1975: Presidential Decree 166 further strengthened the Program. It required the participation of private organizations and individuals in the formulation and implementation of population programs and policies.\

Post-Marcosian governments under Presidents Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo also adopted the following population policies:

  • 1987: Executive Order No. 123 attached POPCOM to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as the planning and coordinating agency.
  • 1987: Policy statement under the Aquino Administration was issued by the POPCOM Board which states: “the ultimate goal of the Population Program is the improvement of the quality of human life in a just and humane society? The achievement of this goal requires a recognition of the close interrelationships among population, resources and environmental factors.”
  • 1990: Executive Order No. 408, was issued placing POPCOM under the Office of the President in order to “facilitate coordination of policies and programs relative to population.”
  • 1991: Executive Order No. 476 was issued making POPCOM an attached agency of the National Economic and Development Authority.
  • 1993: Adoption of the Philippine Population Management Program and the Population, Resources and Environment Framework by the Ramos Administration.
  • 1999: Republic Act 6365, known as the Population Act of the Philippines was enacted into law by Congress.
  • 2003: On March 24, 2003, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 188 attaching POPCOM to the Department of Health.
  • 2005: In a Statement of Support, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo joined “the community of nations in expressing support for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).”? The statement also reiterated the principles that guide the Philippine government in the implementation of population program. These principles are based on the four (4) pillars of Responsible Parenthood, Respect for Life, Birth Spacing, and Informed Choice. Health services, including Reproductive Health services, are devolved by the Local Government Code to the local government units. Local Government Units have the responsibility of providing couples and individuals with information and services to enable them to exercise Responsible Parenthood.
  • 2006: On October 10, 2006, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued guidelines and directive for the DOH, POPCOM, and local government units to take full charge of the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning Program. The Responsible Parenthood and Natural Family Planning Program’s primary policy objective is to promote natural family planning, birth spacing (three years birth spacing) and breastfeeding which are good for the health of the mother, child, family, and community. While LGUs can promote artificial family planning because of local autonomy, the national government advocates natural family planning.

Arroyo’s Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning Program also states:

“The Responsible Parenthood and Natural Family Planning Program’s primary policy objective is to promote natural family planning, birth spacing (three years birth spacing) and breastfeeding which are good for the health of the mother, child, family, and community. While LGUs can promote artificial family planning because of local autonomy, the national government advocates natural family planning.”

As for Thailand’s ‘radical’ economic reforms that turned the country around, things changed in the 1990 after a bloodless military coup. That was the Thailand’s version of the Philippines’ first Edsa revolt. The Thailand’s military regime handpicked Anand Panyarachun, a businessman and former diplomat, as the Head of State. The Panyarachun government did exactly the opposite what the Corazon Aquino administration did. Instead of adopting protectionism and keeping state-owned companies, Panyarachun aggresively pursued trade liberalization, tax reform and privatization that boosted the country’s economy and helped win the trust and confidence of both domestic and foreign investors.

To promote competition and initiate economic reforms, the Thailand government carried out the following:

  • Lowering tariff peaks in the automobile industry;
  • Abolishing price controls on gasoline;
  • Removing licensing regulations on the cement industry;
  • Promoting active participation in electricity and telecom sectors.

Meanwhile, the Philippine’s electricity and power sector is being monopolized by independent power producers. The media and GMA investigative team should try to understand these very basic differences.

The Panyarachun government also  revamped its tariff and tax scheme and abolished some trade-related investment measures to comply with its GATT obligations. So, the country’s new tax scheme replaced business tax with a value added tax that significantly uplifted business confidence. The government’s tariff reductions also helped consumers and the poor and was considered one of the most significant incentives.

Now, how can a news-gathering agency spread a blatant, shameless lie and propaganda that our past governments didn’t have national population policies?

It’s either they’re lying or they just don’t know the facts. Period!

Here’s my response to the Facebooker:

The argument that Thailand’s population control program is the main driving force of its economic growth is a big, big fallacy. Yes, a lot of demographers and neo-malthusian writers mention the case of Thailand whenever they glorify and promote government-backed pop control policies, but there’s absolutely no evidence to the claim that the country’s economic growth was fueled by its declining population and lower fertility rate.

There is a BIG difference between government-forced population control measure and VOLUNTARY family planning.

Remember that like Thailand, the Philippines also started its own pop control program during the rule of Marcos. And since the Marcosian era, our government has been allocating budget for contraceptives and population management/control programs. Do not forget the Population Commission that gets its yearly budget is still part of our government. Also, remember that Aquino had allocated over 30 billion pesos on RH services prior to the passage of the RH law. This means this country has an active population control policies long before the passage of the RH law.

What I am trying to say is, the Thailand’s declining population and TFR is mainly due to the willingness of its own people to adopt family planning even without government funding or support. The real reason is birth control is CHEAPER in Thailand. Just look at this Thai online forum wherein members discussed the cheap price of birth controls.

Thailand’s cheap medical services is also not due to government laws, but because of market competition. I’ve heard there are also Filipino doctors working in Thailand. In the Philippines, Thai doctors and all foreign professionals are BANNED by our laws from working here.

This VOLUNTARY family planning practice is actually what’s giving other governments like Japan, South Korea, Russia, France and Singapore a headache. These countries want to increase their TFR and population through PRO-NATALIST POLICIES (the exact opposite of pop control policies).

For example, many Euro nations have a low TFR because of the following reasons:

  • education – the Europeans have become more aware of the importance and availability of contraception and consequences an unplanned pregnancy;
  • women in careers
  • late marriages
  • state benefits that encourage people or married people to think they no longer need children to help care for them when older.

So, it’s not government’s population control efforts that made Thailand more economically prosperous than the Philippines.  It’s actually the other way around. It’s Thailand’s economic growth that caused population decline and lower fertility rate.

This is actually what this CLUELESS Inquirer columnist unwittingly proved with his opinion article.

In his Inquirer op-ed Walden Bello asked: “Why was family planning successful in Thailand?”

Citing a particular study, he answered his own question by saying:

“First of all, economic change, the fall in the death rate owing to better health services and the rising cost of education that Thais saw as the main vehicle for social mobility combined to make people realize the economic cost associated with having more babies, especially the rising cost of obtaining quality education for one’s offspring.”

Here, remember that Thailand began to embraced economic reforms in the 1980s and 90s.

The second reason, according to him is:

“… cultural factors like the high level of female autonomy in the family and religion.”

That means that the real reason behind Thailand’s population decline is VOLUNTARY contraception use, and this use was triggered by a number of forces, such as economic changes (development or progress), cultural reasons, etc. In fact, the Thai government didn’t and doesn’t have to control the country’s population. Even without funding people’s contraceptives, its people would still voluntary buy contraceptives and practice family planning.

Again, let me reiterate my stand that I am not against family planning. I’m all for it. I’m against the idea that the government has to fund contraceptives and force doctors and others to comply with an unconstitutional law. I am against the idea that it has to force all doctors to render an INVOLUNTARY SERVICE called pro bono.

Latest update:

Just observe the naivety and inability of people behind GMA Investigative Documentaries to distinguish between private, voluntary charity or initiative and active government population control efforts. These are two entirely different variables. The video clip below shows that “condom” campaigns in Thailand were mainly initiated by private individuals and businesses. There’s nothing wrong or objectionable about this. Private individuals and businesses are using their own money. They’re not using other people’s money, which is what the RH law is trying to do. They also use the pro-contraception campaign to promote or advertise their own businesses. Business or corporate self-interest is involved.

In Japan, for example, a number of PRIVATE companies privately, voluntarily initiated pro-natalist policies (the exact opposite of neo-Malthusian policies) without the government having to spend taxpayers’ money or use legal force against doctors and private hospitals. Bandai, a toy company, has been offering its employees Y1 million to have a third child. Why is the company doing this?

The reasons are as follows:

  • They want their employees to recognize that their company values them;
  • To improve the company’s sales.
  • Mr Yusuke Fukuda, the company’s director, says he is hoping this money offer will inspire their employees.

There’s a term for that corporate strategy, and it’s called CSR.

In other words, Bandai’s primary motivation is to serve and promote its corporate interest.

Why can’t Filipino companies and private individuals do the same thing? Why do we always have to rely on or use the government?  GMA Investigative Documentaries or the GMA Network itself should do the same thing if they really want to curb the country’s ‘booming’ population.

JUST DO IT PRIVATELY! That’s what we, anti-RH law, actually support.

Now the success of Thailand’s family planning program is mainly due to the spirit of voluntarism and free market principles. It’s because of the personal willingness of individuals to spread family planning campaign, educate others on the importance of contraception and use voluntarily contraception. 

This spirit of volunteerism and private individual initiative was spearheaded by a single man named Mechai Viravaidya, who heads the Population and Community Development Association, now the biggest non-government organization in Thailand, with 600 employees and 12,000 volunteers. Again, PDA is an NGO that does not rely on the government for funding; it relies on private donations and help.

The video clip below shows how Viravaidya started his organization and how it became a big success in Thailand.

Here’s a quotable quote:

“When I was a young man 40 years ago, the country was very, very poor with lots and lots and lots of people living in poverty. We decided to do something about it, but we didn’t begin with a welfare program or a poverty reduction program. But we began with a family planning program following a very successful maternal child activity.”

Again, remember that Viravaidya’s PDA is an NGO. So, please do not confuse an NGO family planning campaign with a government population control program.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. GabbyD permalink
    January 13, 2013 3:38

    first, none of those earlier initiatives had teeth because of decentralization.

    second, did the gma news item say it was causal?

    third: lets say its not a major source. but at least we can say the population law didnt hinder growth, as your arguments suggests.

    • January 13, 2013 3:38

      LOL! You must be kidding me. Are you saying most laws implemented by our government had “teeth”? The issue is whether our past government implemented “national population policy”. The only answer is YES. Unless you have some ‘mental’ problem and want to focus on semantics… 😉

      Will you explain the “because of decentralization” part.

      Plus, if previous population policies failed to work because “none of those earlier initiatives had teeth”, what makes you think the recently passed RH law will now have what you call “teeth”? Hmmm… Funny indeed.

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