By MARY ANN BAYANG
(My column space this week will be taken up by a colleague, Eva Luna. MAB)
According to a SWS survey, 2.9 million Filipinos are hungry (although I believe that there are more hungry Filipinos). Meanwhile, Congress wants to increase its pork barrel from P6.2 billion to P9.1 billion – perhaps they want to feed the hungry with cement.
To this day, I wonder why those tasked with lawmaking are given funds to be used at their discretion for projects that have nothing whatsoever to do with lawmaking. Instead of coming up with legislation to help improve the lives of the poor and hungry, our legislators are either busy with Charter Change or with their pet infrastructure projects.
What is even more galling is the hunger – dare I say insatiable appetite – of these legislators for more money. They want an increase in their pork barrel, despite the worsening economic crisis and the growing hunger of the masses!
The comment from administration congressmen, that the SWS survey results showing widespread hunger is “misleading,” really takes the cake! Instead of trying to figure out why there are more hungry Filipinos now and what can be done about it, they wish to deny that there is hunger out there. This is the height of insensitivity. And so they will continue to build their roads and bridges while the hungry die like flies in the streets!
More than 700 Filipinos have been extra-judicially killed since President Arroyo became president in 2001, while Malacanang lashes out against Canadian human rights activists here to investigate political violence.
Even the Joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines composed of various foreign businessmen in the Philippines urged our President to put an end to political violence or risk losing foreign aid and investments.
But the present administration seems unperturbed. It does not seem to care as long as all opposition is SILENCED. Journalists critical of the President and her family and political allies end up dead or sued for libel. Activists, labor leaders and organizers also end up dead, tortured or they disappear. In fact, given the impunity with which these killings are undertaken, I would not be surprised if foreign businessmen and human rights advocates would also disappear. But of course, Malacanang has to content itself with “lashing out” at foreigners critical of the present Administration.
700 DEAD — this is what drives me to despair. 700 critical, intelligent, compassionate workers for social change who have dedicated their lives towards helping the poor and the hungry. These souls have given LIGHT to this God-forsaken crisis-ridden country and they have been SILENCED. Perhaps this is the “grand design” – that only soulless, insensitive, power-hungry and money hungry-individuals remain alive!
This is the Philippines – we either die of hunger or we die because of our political beliefs! #