Yesterday, the Palace admitted that the loot bags delivered to pro-administration congressmen came from GMA’s party, the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi). The money gifts — which Lito Atienza previously called normal and traditional — amounted to some P120 million in cold cash.
Yesterday too, it was reported that a 12-year-old child killed herself because she had lost hope that her family could rise from poverty. Mariannet’s diary narrated in heartwrenching detail the desperation of their situation — how she was forced to stop going to school for a period of time, how her mother’s earnings as a laundrywoman could hardly meet the needs of their large brood, how all she wanted was to finish her studies. The morning before she killed herself, she asked her father for a small amount of money she needed in school for a project. The father said there was none to give. When her father went off to work in the construction site, he was able to procure a cash advance from his employer. He hurried home, looking forward to give to his daughter the money she needed. When he arrived, he discovered that little Marianette had hanged herself.
When sought for a reaction to this tragedy, Malacanang simply called it “isolated.”
Of course it is “isolated”, Madame President.
It is isolated for the simple reason that twelve-year-old girls don’t go around killing themselves. Twelve-year-old girls in the cusp of adolescence giggle with their classmates, experiment with make-up and start having crushes. Twelve-year-old girls discover changes in their body and feel excited and scared at the same time. They sigh and swoon and be silly and make mistakes they will learn from. They do not take a rope, make a noose and hang themselves from it because their family has nothing to eat and because they have lost all hope that there is something more to look forward to in the future.
Madame President, one twelve-year-old girl who hanged herself out of sheer poverty ON YOUR WATCH is one too many.
And as for ourselves, Mariannet’s death compels us to ask some difficult questions. What have we come to as a nation that our children have stopped believing that we can give them a future to look forward to? What can we be proud of if we cannot even give our children the gift of being able to revel in their childhood and enjoy their innocence? How can we look at ourselves in the eye and say that everything is ok, that as long as our own hearth is warm and there is food on the table, there is no need to resist a corrupt and profligate government that uses taxpayers money to ensure the political survival of the President? Money that should have been for social services, health, education, livelihood-generation.
How many twelve-year-old girls need to die before we realize that it’s time to get up and wrestle with questions greater than ourselves?