Nation needs passage of RH Bill to resolve problems during calamities—LagmanBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines—Passage of the controversial Reproductive Health Bill might just be what the country needs to resolve problems faced by its citizens during calamities, the proponent of the measure said on Wednesday.
Asked to comment on an Inquirer report on groups and personalities saying that heavy rains that battered Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces were God’s way of showing displeasure over the developments of House Bill 4244 at the House of Representatives, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman expressed belief that huge population growth posed difficulties to the government in conducting risk management in times of calamities.
Unless the problem of overpopulation is resolved, he said that “no amount of supplemental fund will adequately address calamities.”
Massive population growth also “contributes to the destruction of the environment, creates an imbalance in the ecosystems, and hinders the efficacy of climate change mitigation and adaptation,” said the lawmaker who pointed to government agencies’ difficulties in carrying out rescue efforts “because of the multitude affected by the calamity.”
“We must learn from the tragedies brought about by catastrophes like Ondoy and Sendong and accept the fact that there is a direct link between a high population growth rate and climate change,” he added, saying that it was the reason people set up homes in danger zones such as riverbanks and landslide-prone areas.
On Tuesday, landslide buried several homes in Barangay Bayanihan along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, killing eight persons including an infant. Only one person was found alive when rescuers dug out the bodies from the rubble.
Furthermore, rapid population growth also has a negative effect on the environment as people “invade forestland for habitation and cut trees for livelihood, and clog waterways with their garbage,” said Lagman.
Case in point was the amount of garbage which Manila Bay sends crashing back to Roxas Boulevard and nearby areas during the onslaught of weather disturbances.
“The problem of solid waste management is aggravated in populous areas,” said the RH Bill proponent. “The negative impact of an uncontrolled huge population growth rate on the environment will continually make risk management nightmarish and perpetuate similar tragedies to happen.”
Lagman cited the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ commissioned study entitled “Mapping Population Biodiversity Connections in the Philippines” which he claimed had recognized how high population rate strained the nation’s resources and fragile ecosystems.
He quoted from the said study: “policies and interventions that focus on biodiversity conservation alone are insufficient in abating biodiversity losses and destruction of forest resources unless population and development concerns are adequately addressed.”
Citing a report by the London School of Economics entitled “Fewer Emitters, Lower Emissions, Less Cost”, the lawmaker said that the study found family planning to be five times cheaper than the use of conventional technologies to resolve climate change.
“The enactment of an RH law will frontally address problems spawned by calamities and ecological despoliation,” said Lagman.
HB 4244 will undergo its period of amendments after its debates were terminated by majority of the lawmakers during a ‘viva voce’ vote Monday.
Zambales Representative Milagros Magsaysay, who was quoted in the report has denied her comment posted on her Twitter account on Tuesday was pertaining to lawmakers’ decision to terminate the debates on HB 4244. Her tweet was: “Heaven must be crying…we have to undo what has been done.”
After receiving a barrage of comments over Twitter, the minority bloc member clarified that she was talking about environmental degradation in the country and not the recent termination of RH Bill debates.