Luab: Tigers and church mice-A A +A
Saturday, August 24, 2013
WE do have tigers in the Philippines whom we easily recognize as our billionaires and millionaires. We have plenty of church mice too. Why do I specify church mice?
House mice or gutter mice can still get food to survive but not church mice. Food is missing or very scarce even in flourishing parishes what with luxury cars, mansions, beach resorts and bank accounts of dubious ownership. What is sad is the fact that in (some of) these very same parishes, people are starving.
Many of us understand why Cardinal Chito Tagle cried when he enjoined the privileged few to go around at night to see where the “carton people” live.
Here in Cebu, we also invite those who are blind to the disparity between the have and have nots to visit areas near churches after 10 p.m. There you will find people lying in cartons with not even blankets to keep them warm.
Why do they stay near churches? Because they know that there are still kind souls who go to daily Mass. The thought that somehow they can have breakfast to make up for a night without supper still remains in their hearts.
Where do these carton people come from? They come from the outskirts of the city, from the hills and mountains where food cannot be found.
Why are there so many underage boys and girls, 15 to 16 years old who are employed as domestic help? Their parents send them to the city to relatives, or to friends so they can find work. These children send all of their pay back home so their families can survive. These very same young people make huge cash advances when planting time comes so their parents can buy fertilizers for the tiny plot they inherited from their forefathers. However, it takes too long for the land to yield its fruits. When one has children, how does one address the problem of hunger?
I am not advocating child labor. What I am saying is that the poor have to grasp at straws in order to live.
Let us now look at the plight of our senior citizens. Mostly they are retirees who once upon a time, relied on the lump sum they got and deposited in time deposits or treasury bills. There was a time when they could live on the interest earned by their meager deposits.
Today, these very same people are neglected by an economy run by people who insist that interests in banks must go bottom down so people will get their money out and help the Tigers of Asia, raise our growth index. What a tragedy for retirees. They can’t invest in anything with just a million pesos. They are also too old to learn how to manage a business. Many of them can even get swindled. So what do these senior citizens do?
They don’t buy their medicines anymore. They have now joined the ranks of the very poor. To think that many of the retirees have been honest hardworking teachers or loyal. Industrious government clerks.
What about our diminishing middle class? They too have a hard time making both ends meet. What is really sad about their plight is that in cases of emergency like sickness in the family, an overdue electric or water bill, etc., many of them now go to the “5-6” usurers (for every P100, a person has to pay P20 interest daily).
Previously they were Carbon Market vendors, ambulant cigarette vendors, contractual workers who were under the yoke of these unscrupulous money lenders. Kind folks, bonafide non-government organizations, individual philanthropists go even beyond their means to help but the very poor in Cebu are still growing especially with the added natural disasters.
What prompted me to write about something that we already know? The exposure of the horrendous P10 billion pork barrel scam! More anomalies are wriggling out of the can of worms where many of our politicians are involved in the selfish, greedy dipping into the pork barrel, the contents of which should have been given to the poor. From the looks of it, huge amounts of money went into big fat wallets of corrupt people who in wide-eyed candor say, “We can’t remember where the money went!”
When I think of the many poor patients in and out of hospitals who died due to lack of funds, I ask the people we elected to the Senate and to Congress. “My gosh! What have you done?” I agree that not all members of the Senate or Congress have misused their pork barrel allocations.
However, command responsibility declares that to redeem the good name of the Senate and Congress this special case of robbery must be solved in the shortest possible time! Roar Tigers, roar but this time in defense of our growing miserable poor!
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 25, 2013.