Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Stomachs in rebellion

MORE and more Filipinos are joining the ranks of rebels—but they’re not exactly up in arms. It’s their stomachs that are causing too much furor and clamor, growling in emptiness.

As of March 2006, it was reported that an unprecedented 2.8 million families confessed that they’ve gone hungry with nothing to eat.

No, they’re not angry which rhymes with hungry. They’re just hungry. That’s no cause for alarm, pumped up apprehensions and the usual Palace spin about massive destabilization in the works that could topple the Palace resident and her minions. Rest assured that growling hunger pangs ought to topple those who can’t afford foodstuffs.

Unlike Malacañang denizens, the hungry hordes may not likely survive through 2010—make no mistake about that.

Three possible reasons for the incessant wreckage of Filipino digestive systems: (1) food production can’t keep pace with the growing population, (2) by the time farm-produced foodstuffs get to the consumer, the retail price is way beyond the consumer’s means, and (3) too little income or whatever income is devoured by inflation.

National Statistics Office figures in 2000 point out that each person needed at least P21 worth of food daily to survive—that sum fetches four packs of instant noodles which has become the pambansang pagkain ng Pilipino. Such less than filling ballast to hush hunger pains may give the hungry hordes some ideas— death row inmates are allotted P30 daily for their meals. Say, all it takes is commission of heinous crimes like plunder, kidnap for ransom, mass murder or such as a ticket to free secure accommodation and quite ample food.

As of March 2006, the peso purchasing power has shrunk to 73 centavos, each peso chewed up by 7.6 percent inflation. That means the real value of the P325 daily minimum wage in Metro Manila is only P233.48—workers lose over 28 percent of their earnings to inflation.

Reports plied by the Social Weather Stations claim the hunger trend has been rising since late 2003,after dipping to 5.1 percent in September that year, and has remained at double-digit levels since the second quarter of 2004.

That means the rebellion is fully under way.

No problem here. Those rebellious stomachs can howl all they want until they croak dead.

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