72.2 Politics and population policy in the Philippines: A Gramscian analysis

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 11:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Enrique Niņo LEVISTE , Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice, National Institute of Education, Singapore
This study explains why the Philippine Catholic Church has successfully established and maintained ideological and political dominance, most notably after democratization. Tracing the history of the reproductive health-family planning (RH-FP) policy process from Ferdinand Marcos to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, it argues that the Church has successfully built and nurtured organic links with state elites and segments of civil society to promote a Catholic dogma-informed FP agenda, and preserve its hegemonic sway despite regime change. The Church has endured as an institution of power owing to its ability to deploy and nurture a network of intellectuals in key policy making and implementing institutions of government, and civil society organizations, an opportunity that had been further enhanced (albeit paradoxically) under a post-authoritarian political environment. It has incorporated heads of state, and influential members of the national legislature into its ambit at different historical instances, and managed to influence the RH-FP policy debate and advocacy process. By the same token, the Catholic Church has stymied efforts by state and non-state advocates of population policy reform to institutionalize a coherent and sustainable FP program predicated upon RH and reproductive rights.

     The absence of a definitive government stand on RH and FP significantly points to the preeminence of the Catholic Church. Yet to suggest that it exercises its authority uncontested is to neglect its embedment within a relatively vibrant political context. Hence, this study also examines how a counter-ideological and political movement of state and non-state RH and FP proponents has emerged. From non-government policy advisory bodies to women’s groups, the proliferation of an alternative mindset or framework of action vis-à-vis the issue of population control and FP has gradually taken root. Whether such a development would eventually engender a complete reversal of Catholic Church hegemony has yet to be ascertained.