The Hunger that Lies Ahead

By Jose Ma. Montelibano

The hunger that lies ahead can be much worse than the hunger of today and yesterday. It is a direct result of neglect, especially by those whose main mission in life is the mission of One who came to bring glad tidings to the poor. It is a direct result of apathy, especially by Christians who could sleep peacefully while one in every five of his neighbors experienced hunger. It is a direct result of leadership without heart for Filipino farmers and without vision for their development...

...Poverty and hunger have been in our midst for so long that the non-poor and the non-hungry have become blind and insensitive to these. We cannot take care of the weak among us, of the marginalized and the old, the sick and the vulnerable young. We deserve the condemnation not only of the world who sneer at our pathetic posture but of all the gods and demigods depicted by statues and immortalized by rituals. We participate by our tolerance in the genocide of the poor, and willingly pay soldiers to keep them at bay when they grow hungry and restive...

...Government does take more than a cursory look at reports on hunger. Public officials are more sensitive than the ordained because they can be booted out of office every three years, or removed by people power. But official intervention has been quite ineffective, influencing a few percentage points up or down without any master plan for eradicating hunger. It is as though government is more afraid of its survival versus the appalling shame of having Filipinos experience hunger in the land of plenty...

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A tropical country like the Philippines, which is perfectly suitable for growing rice and has the IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) in our midst as source and guide for modern and efficient technology concerning rice production, should not be one of the world's major importers of rice -- it should rather be a rice exporting country.

But what happened to our country? This is a case of misprioritization and wrong focus -- if not total incompetence of leadership, or worse, yet another area of governance where corruption is prevalent.

Like a father, when the Lord corrects, He will first show us the areas in which we are weak. How many weak areas in our nation are yet there that we need to see before we (most especially our leaders) start to change our ways?