Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Philippines is now a case of humanitarian disaster

Open letter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from the Citizens Committee on the National Crisis

Dear Madam President:

The Philippines is now a case of humanitarian disaster. Late last year, the Food and Nutrition Research Institution of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) released a survey finding that “8 out of 10 households are hungry.” This is the first time, to our knowledge, that the government, through an important agency, acknowledged the fact that mass hunger -- and not only mass poverty -- now grips the lands.

The reported FNRI-DOST finding that 8 out of 10 households are hungry, if true, can only mean that the Philippines has become a case of humanitarian disaster warranting the urgent concern of the international community and a program of international aid and assistance.

The human dimension of the FNRI-DOST statistic is reflected in this news report: “Mothers now selling their babies, while fathers sell their kidneys, and farmers eat field rats.”

The FNRI-DOST finding, Madam President, was made public through the November 2, 2003, issue of Today, which front-paged the story. But that story didn’t elicit any public reaction, even from the media. Today appears to be the only paper that published it.