The story of Mariannet Amper, a 12-year-old girl in Davao who hung herself due to abject poverty her family has been facing, is a tip of the iceberg of the long standing problem of dysfunctional social services program in the Philippines.
Hers was among the many unreported cases of suicides, starvation deaths and extreme level of malnutrition there.
Poverty is nothing new there. One need not to conduct surveys, research or interview of how depressing the poor’s lives there; and how they struggle to even fed themselves to survive. The extent of its condition could be weight on how the people reacts to it. Unlike other cases Mariannet’s story gets fairly enough attention.
But do you know that in recent months, a couple are amongst those to commit suicides as a result of severe depression due to abject poverty?
Fighting poverty requires more of deep reflection that calling for justice for victims, putting blame on others, or for the government to be reminded of their program.
It requires deeper understanding to the concept of: poverty, starvation deaths, hunger, death resulting from malnutrition, to which this time is almost nonexistent in the psyche of the Filipinos. Even the officials who are supposed to implement social services and poverty alleviation programs finds themselves hardly understanding this.
For instance, my cousin’s son died of hunger-related diseased, severe malnutrition, which was cause by hunger. She and her surviving family never get adequate assistance. When the social welfare staffs interviewed her family to assess their conditions, whether or not they deserve assistance, the social worker declared they are not qualified.
Why? Because my aunties and uncles are public school teachers which suggests that she had well-off relatives who could support her. Blame it to my aunties and uncles for being teachers. Never mind whether or not these public school teachers are even struggling to support own families due to meager pay. Evaluation does not depend on the condition of victim’s family being evaluated, but rather their relatives.
So, what can you expect from social services? Perhaps what they are looking for are not only poor, but poorest of the poor. But who and where these people really are? If the purchasing power and standard way of life is made as basis in measuring and evaluating each family’s condition requiring assistance, perhaps over half of the country’s population would qualify for this. Even public school teachers or government employees would do.
Moral values had long come to its ever degenerating condition. When people chooses to die than living an inhumane life; the meaning of life had gone cheap. When people show less care for others, or if reactions are short lived, perhaps it suggests there is nothing new to this already. And the people tends to let it pass.
While we condole and shed tears on this girl’s death, we should also bare in mind that we could still save the lives of millions of other girls, and families who are now, right there, suffers the same depressing condition of life. To save theirs is what we and the concerned Filipinos should be doing and act on it.