... but it hardly helps.
Jose Romero writes "Population Not Root Cause of Philippines' Woes" in response to Ernie Pernia's commentary "RP Food Crisis Not Simply A Supply Problem" and manages to set up and strike down a strawman. Romero notices the last part critiquing the Catholic Church's population policy and creates a phantom argument to demolish.
In his article Pernia does not say that a large population is the "root" of the problem, he simply implies that it doesn't help. Which is true. His "back of the envelope" calculations say (heck, common sense will) that if we were able to keep our population down we wouldn't be needing this much rice. Hence the title of his article. Demand is something we need to keep in check, too.
The best way to think about population is in the micro level. A couple with two kids can survive on much less than a family of six or eight. This means less pressure for the parents to earn more or more rewards if they do. In other words, the janitor isn't poor because he has six kids; he is poor because he earns minimum wage. His six kids prevent him from rising from his poverty because their demand always exceeds his supply.
Of course economists from the UA&P will argue, as Romero does, that a large population can drive growth as in the case of China. But that just begs the question: why isn't it happening to us right now?
Our hypothetical janitor may potentially have six college graduates to help him in his old age but that's only if he manages to get them in school in the first place; something nigh impossible with less than 10K a month. The Philippines' large population can drive growth but only if we are able to prepare them properly. Something we find hard to do because our population is large.