“When I travel to the Barangay [i.e. Filipino villages], I am never asked for contraceptives. I am, however, always asked for a basketball.”
— Philippine Senator Vicente Sotto
I am often asked why I travel to the Philippines so often, my most recent trip being my thirteenth. The answer is provided by Father Paul Marx, OSB, who said, “If the Philippines falls to the Culture of Death, we have lost.”
The Philippines, with a population of nearly 110 million, is one of the last bastions of Catholicism in the world, with eighty-three percent being Catholic. In 2021 it will celebrate 500 years of Catholicism. Ten million Filipinos live outside their homeland, influencing cultures and societies around the world. This is a rich and vibrant culture whose identity is synonymous with its Catholic faith; however, “new” influences and values are being introduced with a radically different message and agenda.
In 2012, the country’s legislature passed the so-called Reproductive Health Bill (RH-Bill) after a lengthy 14-year battle. The law, which was heavily supported by wealthy Western-funded NGOs, mandates government-funded contraception and sex-education. Due to its highly controversial nature, it was years before the law was fully implemented, with the Supreme Court repeatedly temporarily blocking various measures. However, current President Rodrigo Duterte has enthusiastically pushed for massive government-funded contraception programs, and pushed for a three-child limit.
As one might expect, efforts to further erode the Philippines’ pro-family values have followed rapidly in the footsteps of the passage of this law. President Duterte himself has expressed support for legalizing same-sex “marriage.” The Philippines is also one of the last remaining countries in the world to prohibit divorce. However, in recent years bills have been introduced to change that, and last year one such bill was passed by the House. Many pro-life leaders in the country rightly fear that the RH-Bill was merely the first move of the international abortion lobby, the thin end of the wedge that would eventually lead to the legalized killing of the unborn.
If left unchallenged, the impact of the Philippines’ move towards embracing hedonistic Western values will not only be felt in the Philippines, but throughout the world.
A Faith-filled Senator
During the recent mission in June, I was fortunate to meet with Senate President, Vicente C. Sotto III, who for decades has been a faithful advocate for life and the family. During our meeting, we spent ample time discussing current issues confronting Filipinos, particularly the blatant assault by Western elites with their anti-life, anti-family ideologies, seeking to supplant Filipino culture with their own worldview. Senator Sotto emphasized the necessity of defending core values rooted in faith and the family, the building blocks of culture and society.
As the senator spoke, it was self-evident how faith and family have contributed to his own identity, moral convictions, and values. Among the memorabilia in the senator’s office were numerous pictures of his family as well as religious images. With exuberance he shared with me one of his prize possessions, a rosary blessed by St. John Paul II, which he carried in his pocket and prayed daily.
Moreover, with joy and pride, he spoke of how blessed he was to have been raised in a God-loving family with parents who witnessed, in word and action, this wondrous life. “This is how I was raised,” said the senator, and “every other Filipino family.” However, the senator noted that these fundamental values are quickly eroding, leaving Filipinos vulnerable to Western philosophies.
Honestly, I could not help thinking during my time with the senator how different the Philippines (and every nation) would be, if every civil servant and leader lived in accord with the core values being affirmed by Senator Sotto. Faith, religion, moral teaching, and family values are not in opposition to serving in public office. On the contrary, they are desperately needed. Sadly, however, it has become rare to encounter such a person unashamedly “wearing” his faith and moral values.
The Scandal of U.S. Population Control
So, why is the Philippines targeted by Western elites? The answer can be found in a declassified U.S. document, National Security Study Memorandum 200. NSSM-200 is the blueprint for United States population suppression activities overseas. It was written under the Nixon administration in 1974 and is titled “Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests.”
NSSM-200 says that, “The U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries.” The document does not mention the welfare of the people or raising their standards of living, it simply asserts that the United States must hold down the population of the developing world so that we may have access to its natural resources. One of the thirteen nations that was targeted by the United States for special attention in its population suppression efforts was the Philippines.
I have seen firsthand the impact and consequence of this document and U.S. policy in developing nations around the world, especially in Africa and Asia. Because of this policy and Western elites wishing to maintain their own materialistic lifestyles, Filipinos (as with Africans) have been targeted by population controllers seeking to drastically reduce the number of children being born. Sadly, USAID – the United States’ foreign aid program – has been heavily involved in these population control programs. Their tactics and propaganda, unfortunately, are gaining ground. Filipinos are having less children, an average of three (Total Fertility Rate 2.71); whereas, in 1965 the average Filipino family had six-to-seven children (TFR 6.98). If unchanged, the TFR will be 1.58 by the year 2050, well below the replacement level of about 2.1.
Of course, anti-natalist and Western elites do not wish to be perceived as self-consumed, materialistic, racists, or discriminatory. Instead, they creatively portray their motives as purely humanitarian and philanthropic, wanting us to believe they are motivated by the plight of the poor. This is a deceptive illusion. In the first place, in the past there have been troubling reports about foreign-funded programs imposing sterilization quotas on Filipino women.
But even when population control programs don’t involve explicit coercion on individual women, they often employ systemic forms of “soft” coercion. This includes offers of aid money that are contingent upon the implementation of population control initiatives, as well as massive and expensive advertising campaigns aimed at changing public opinion to align with Western values. In HLI’s 2013 documentary about the RH-Bill, pro-life leaders in the country spoke of the difficulty of standing against the hundreds of millions of dollars being poured into their country from foreign sources in support of the bill. In some cases, the moneys amounted to overt bribery. Dr. Ligaya Acosta, HLI’s Regional Director for Asia and Oceania, said she herself was personally offered $1 million to support the bill. Prior to her amazing conversion in 2004, Acosta worked as a loyal government employee for the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) for more than 28 years and was an avid promoter of contraceptives and a firm believer in population control. Because of her previous work for the government and knowledge of its programs, she was a threat.
The tragedy is that the modus operandi of the population controllers does nothing to change the reasons for abject poverty or raise the standard of living. Imagine if these huge sums of money were instead used to support authentic healthcare, and economic development? As Senator Sotto noted in the quote included at the beginning of this article, Filipinos are not clamoring for contraception: what they are asking for is aid that supports their dignity. Or, as Filipino Congressman Lito Atienza once told me, “We are not a poor country. We have vast amounts of resources and potential. Our battle with poverty is not because of a lack of material resources or overpopulation but because of corruption.”
Does contraception create or provide ordinary necessities like clean water, hospitals, infrastructure, schools, homes, farm equipment, electrification, or economic prosperity (or sports equipment)?
No! It simply turns large poorer families into smaller poorer families.
HLI is resolute in defending life and the family in the Philippines (and around the world). We cannot allow the tactics and strategies of Western elites and anti-natalists to achieve their goals. We will, in collaboration with Church and civil leaders, tirelessly fight the good fight. Your continued support, dedication, prayers, and sacrifices will make this possible.
Yes, there has been ground lost in many parts of the world, but it only means we must intensify our efforts and commitment. Fortunately, as HLI showed in our 2013 documentary (which I encourage you to watch), there are still many, many good bishops, priests, and lay people in the Philippines who are pushing to preserve and promote an authentic Culture of Life. By working together, we will turn the tide.