by Jean Paul Zialcita
Michael Lim Ubac’s Inquirer article “Clinton: More babies a boon to Filipinos” (13/11/10 p. 1) begins this way:
Former US President Bill Clinton sees more babies as an advantage for the Philippines, whose exploding population is projected to reach 94 million by the end of the year.
What’s the word “exploding” doing in that sentence? The word presents us with the opinion that having more babies is a bad thing. Writer’s bias, clearly. Remove “exploding” and read the sentence again. No more partiality. Replace “exploding” with “growing”, and the sentence becomes a statement of fact rather than an opinion.
I don’t think news writers have the necessary qualifications to judge whether or not our population is “exploding”. Hence, it would be best to confine language such as this to the opinion pages, where biases are presented straightforwardly.
Another case of bias in the same news item can be detected in the following:
As highly industrialized nations grapple with the economic and social costs of an aging population, Clinton noted that “you [Filipinos] have a huge population, which is [something] positive, and you have massive natural resources.”
Golez capitalized on that statement to hit back at his colleagues advocating the passage of the long-pending reproductive health (RH) bill that upholds maternal health and seeks to provide couples an informed choice on various methods of family planning. [Emphasis added]
The bill is described as one that “upholds maternal health”. How can any decent person object to such a bill, right? So, when Golez is said to be “[hitting] back” at colleagues who are pushing for the passage of the bill, he ends up appearing…well…indecent.
I’m sure Golez is all for enhancing maternal health. Everyone knows he’s pro-life. If he’s against the bill, it’s obviously not because it upholds maternal health. But the sentence, as it is constructed, tells us otherwise.
Mr. Zialcita is a professor of political science at UP-Diliman.