“ But there is an equally great experience of suffering that occurs when we try to numb ourselves to the realities around us.  It is like ignoring a sore and letting it fester.  When we look squarely at injustice and get involved, we actually feel less pain, not more, because we overcome the gnawing guilt and despair that festers under our numbness.  We clean the wound- our own and others’ and it can finally heal.  - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

I have often wondered how President Noynoy Aquino felt when he went to the provinces or when he visited the poor around Malacañang. What did he feel when a poor student gave him his can of saved centavos, just to get him elected? When a woman decided to buy yellow ribbons to decorate the town he was about to visit instead of her medicines, because she had hope in him? How did he feel when he encountered the sufferings of his people?   

When  Pres. Noynoy Aquino came to the United States, he shared how he was inspired by kababayans he met at Max’s Restaurant in Milpitas, California. He admired them for managing to stay connected to their homeland, despite years of being away. 
This reminded me of what Archbishop Ted Scott's words to his congregation, when he was installed in 1971: ”You are important as people.  Every single human being is important.  Our own sense of worth should never stop us from seeing that other human beings are also important. Christian people are called, not to a life of privilege, but to a life of service.“
What does it mean to be of service to the Philippines, whose growth momentum is blocked by its demographic trap? A demographic trap means any growth in the economy is blocked and reversed by a ballooning growth in population.
According to the CIA Factbook, the Philippines has a population of 99 million and is the 12th most populated country in the world.  The country ranks 85th among 139 countries in terms of global competitiveness, says a study by the World Economic Forum.  The idea is to have the situation reversed, where ranking in population growth diminishes and global competitiveness increases.  Why?  Because economic growth should keep up, even overtake population growth.

One of the indications of economic growth is the government's capability to provide ample education to the youth. But even if the government is mandated to make such a provision, the reality is that the Philippines does not have enough schools, nor books or teachers.

More teachers
Even if PNoy forges private and public partnerships with the wealthy and is able to build 100 schools each year, the president knows that the government will still be needing teachers for these new schools.

Will the government be able to train enough teachers to cope with the rate of population growth? Imagine, Php 1,000,000 per minute has to be generated just to meet school children's needs, since babies are born 40 infants per minute.  
In his book, The End of Poverty, Jeffrey Sachs describes developed countries, where for each mother, there is a daughter to replace her for the next generation. But for some families, there is no one to  succeed them, resulting in a fertility decline.  
In a developing economy like the Philippines, a mother bears three daughters or more, tripling or quadrupling her replacement for the next generation and adding to the phenomenon called demographic trap. For the mother's generation, one classroom should have been sufficient.  

To meet the needs of her three daughters, three classrooms are needed. This blocks progress in the economy, since a big chunk of the national budget is utilized for basic K-12 elementary education. This diminishes the funds for higher education, which is needed for innovation and global competitiveness.  
What is the Aquino's government’s response to the major increase in population?  
Pres. Noynoy Aquino said firmly that his administration will address the problem through the Reproductive Health Bill -- a move which will allow the government to educate families about responsible parenthood and to give them options for family planning. You would think that his stand on population control would generate robust conversations, instead of tension between the Catholic Church and the State.
The Catholic Church has expressed the moral option of civil disobedience against the President, should he push through with the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill. Why? The Church believes that the government must not tamper with God's will to procreate within a marriage.

Ironically, The Catholic Church itself is embroiled in sexual abuse cases, with some of its priests involved -- resulting in multi-million settlements.  Pope Benedict apologized for the conduct, but has not made any action to right this wrong.

The Catholic Church believes that when a man and woman engage in sex, they are doing God’s work in procreation.  The Church believes that “no man must interrupt God’s will”, hence, no condoms, or artificial methods must be employed.  
But is the Catholic Church really entitled to do this?  
Shouldn’t this be about freedom of conscience? Is a woman not entitled to her own decision in the event of an unwanted pregnancy? 

Pregnancy does not start until the embryo is deposited in the uterus of a woman.  Why not allow the process of preventing the sperm from going into the uterus of the woman, so the sperm is not deposited and conception is avoided?  Why would God frown on this responsible behavior?
Would God allow women to have unexpected pregnancies due to sexual abuse? Or wives with abusive husbands to have unwanted pregnancies? Wouldn't God want these women to at least, have an option?

Would God be pleased when mothers are secretly aborting their children in backyard garages, or are abandoning them in garbage bins? 

We no longer live in medieval times, when “Roman women threw their children in the Tiger river during the daylight.”  Women need support in order to make an intelligent decision and embark on the journey of motherhood and responsible parenting when they are best prepared and are confident that they will be able to provide for their offspring, or at least give consideration to the capabilities of the government to provide for their children's needs. 


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