I’d run into him previously on an article covering last year’s escapade at the Manila Cathedral fracas, where he was attempting to defend Manalang’s vitriol by trying to lay the blame on the FF members for being blasphemers.
He also maintains a blog, wherein he periodically writes about his stance against the Reproductive Health bill, and where in he attempts to justify his opposition with data.
I say attempt in a very loose sense, in light of one of his recent articles, which tried to discredit the need for a Reproductive Health program by citing government plans to cut down on rice imports.
Manny’s article basically states this: A recent article states that the Philippine Government is planning to drastically cut the amount of rice it will be importing this 2011. According to National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Angelito Banayo, this was done because the gov’t already had a large surplus of rice accumulated in past years.
By Manny’s reasoning, this surplus translates to there being no food crisis among Filipino families; ergo, the issue of overpopulation is a boogeyman that the cabal of Pro-RH heathens (myself included) conjured up to scare the populace into supporting our agenda.
While he did get it right that past shortages are due to rice hoarders and rampant government corruption, Manny’s assertion that surplus = no overpopulation doesn’t hold much of a grain of truth; More so when one looks at other related studies.
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) based in Washington D.C. reports that while the number of pinoys suffering from starvation has decreased over the past few decades, a good portion of RP’s population still suffer from lack of food.
Getting into specifics, the IFPRI’s Global Hunger Index (GHI) updated the score given to the Philippines from 19 in the 1990s, to 13 in their latest report. Here’s a lowdown of how those numbers are rated:
- Less than 5 :Low Hunger Level
- 5 – 9.9 :Moderate hunger
- 10 – 19.9 : A serious problem
- 20 – 29.9: Alarming
- 30 and above :Extremely Alarming
You don’t need a degree in statistics to understand that while less pinoys are going hungry today than they did before, starvation remains a serious problem, whether or not our gov’t decided to cut down on rice imports.
What makes these figures especially disturbing is that a large percentage of those going hungry are our youth. A recent joint study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicates that from the time period from 2003 to 2006, approximately 12.8 million Filipino children below the age of 15 live in poverty, with 5.4 million of them being deprived at one point of one of their three basic necessities to life: Food, Water, and Sanitation.
A separate report by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) also found that 33.1 percent of the 100,000 schoolchildren they studied suffer from malnutrition, resulting in stunted growth.
Chronic malnutrition begins in infancy, the study suggested, with more than eight in 10 Philippine toddlers aged between six months and five years not eating enough to meet the recommended daily energy and nutrient intake.
Acute malnutrition, which reflects more recent setbacks such as illness or failing to eat properly over the past week, stood at 25.6 percent in 2008 among school children, up from 22.8 percent in 2005.
Aside from affecting their health, a related study by the Department of Education (DepEd) and the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) indicates that poverty prevents these children from receiving a proper education.
“An assessment of the situation points to poverty as the main cause of this lower-than-expected increase. This is further exacerbated by the high cost of schooling-related expenditures. High school students seeking employment to augment family income also contributed to the low increase in enrollment,” the NEDA report stated.
The Department of Education admitted that the country’s “volatile economic situation” is preventing children from going to school. Even with the “zero tuition” offer of the government, poor families are hindered by lack of employment, hunger and malnutrition, among other problems.
“Time and again parents have complained of financial obstacles,” said Kenneth Tirado, communications officer of DepEd.
I’ll concede that perhaps Manny is right – the overpopulation isn’t the issue.
Given the data I’ve managed to dig up however, the problem seems to be more of our inability to provide basic necessities for the population we already have.
It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to understand that most of the families these kids belong to would prefer to limit the children they have to a manageable number, to enable them to provide all of them with enough food to secure their physical well-being, and to properly fund their schooling to secure their mental well-being.
Manny Amador calls people like me doomsayers for going through the trouble of researching the sobering data I have provided here; I prefer to call it a rude awakening.
* And that wraps up Part 1 of my rebuttal for Mr. Amador. Join me again next week as I prepare a new piece to counter the second-half of his writings.