Lawmakers split on role of overpopulation in PH disastersBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines – Two lawmakers are divided on whether overpopulation played a major role in worsening the destruction wrought by the recent southwest monsoon in the country.
While Reproductive Health Bill proponent Albay Representative Edcel Lagman believed that no amount of additional funds could counteract the effect of calamities until overpopulation was resolved, Gabriela Representative Emmi de Jesus insisted that population control was not the answer.
Although the partylist lawmaker admitted that living in danger zones in the country places people’s lives at risk, De Jesus said that the government was also to blame for its inability to implement programs that provide people with decent areas to live in. She maintained that programs on flood control were also lacking and contributed to floods.
She said that seeing women and children forced to live in evacuation centers only strengthened their call for the government to boost its programs which would provide its people with better healthcare and decent living conditions.
This view differed with what Lagman espouses, urging people to accept that the country’s massive population had a direct link to the impact climate change had on its citizens. He said that because of the high population growth, people were forced to live in forestland and cut down trees for a living or live dangerously in areas not suitable for habitation in the urban areas, clogging waterways with trash.
But blaming these problems on the people was not acceptable to De Jesus, who told Inquirer.net over a phone interview that it was the state which should be held responsible for not taking care of its people. “Sila na nga ang biktima, sila pa ang may kasalanan (They are the victims; should they still be blamed)?”
To Lagman, problems on solid waste management and the lack of space to live in cities were effects of overpopulation. He said that these issues were exacerbated in highly-populated urban areas in the country.
And while other lawmakers like De Jesus did not see House Bill 4244 as something which could prevent calamities from wreaking so much havoc in the country, Lagman sees the RH Bill as a solution to problems that the nation finds itself facing time and again in the face of extreme weather disturbances.
He said that the RH Bill, which has just hurdled its period of debates, was about “human rights, maternal and infant health and sustainable human development.”
But now that the said measure is about to go into its period of amendments, De Jesus, who maintained that “population control can never be pro-women nor pro-poor”, said that they would push for amendments to the bill’s provisions which state that population control was a solution to widespread poverty.