Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Bleak Christmas: Hunger in the Philippines

I had discussed this a few blogs back, "The Hungry Filipino". It seems that a bleaker Christmas awaits our less-fortunate citizens. From 16.9 percent in September, the hunger has surged to an all-time high of 19 percent. While the administration boasts of a steady economic growth, this is not felt by majority of the people. A country rich in fertile lands should never have a problem like hunger and starvation.

The apparent lack of concern by the government has led to more desolation. The lack of government support and the continued looting of the national coffers has continued unabated. Plus the fact that the government would rather please the international community than the very people its suppose to serve. The dumping of agricultural produce by our Asian neighbors continue to tighten the noose around our farmers' necks. Only big plantations with concentrated crops are holding out against the influx of produce from other countries. The backyard raisers who supply 75% of our food supply are feeling the pinch and are closing shop at a fast rate. The low cost of imported goods has led to huge losses and doesn't make continuing their operations viable.

The entry of the Philippines to the WTO was suppose to open the country to more trade. But with very weak domestic economic foundations, even our manufacturers are hurting. Cheap products especially from China has hurt our local businesses. Unemployment was even redefined by the government to hide the true number of our unemployed. Now, they are even contemplating on liberalizing ownership of land, business and utilities to foreign entities. The administration thinks that this is the panacea for our woes, at least that's what they want the people to believe. If only they have a little patriotism left in their hearts, the Philippines will be progressive again.

How insensitive it is for the government to spend P3 billion for the ASEAN Summit which will last for only a few days. The outcome of which is still uncertain as the economies in the region are in a downtrend. We have facilities in Manila which with a little improvement would cost much less than constructing new ones in Cebu. The boastful administration would rather spend lavishly on others while its own people could barely make do with the scant finances they have. Government officials constantly travel to all parts of the world, spending precious dollars that could have been better spent on basic services. How callous it is for the government to buy expensive vehicles, build expensive resthouses and spend on nonessentials like the people's initiative and their Con-Ass. Ghost projects and fund diversion which up to now has yet to be accounted for and whose cases have been languishing in the courts, add to the woes of the ordinary Filipino.

But as long as we have leaders whose only concern is how to stay in power, social justice will never be achieved. While the those in power busy themselves with a charter change to maintain the status quo, millions of my countrymen are going hungry everyday. Children too malnourished to learn anything, will never be able reach their full potential in life. Misplaced concerns has led to the deterioration of society and degradation of humanity. Should this viciousness continue, the Philippines will be left with nothing to hope for. A nation so wealthy but yet so poor. For now, the Filipinos will have to scrounge for whatever they can get their hands on to survive.