Statement on the
Lahad Datu situation
By Philippine Center for
Islam and Democracy
February 22, 2013
On the 12th of February, 2013, news reported that 100 men, some of
them armed with a motley of rifles, belonging to the Royal Army of the
Sultanate of Sulu, landed on a remote village in Lahad Datu, Sabah,
Malaysia. Led by Rajah Mudah (Crown Prince) Agmuddin Kiram, brother of
Sultan Jamalul III, they originally stated that their purpose was
peaceful: to visit their "homeland". Later, the Rajah Mudah stated
that they are reasserting their dominion over the contested territory
to which the Philippines has a dormant historical claim, acting on a
royal decree from the Sultan, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.
As of today, the forces of the Royal Army are engaged in an uneasy
standoff with Malaysian security forces: the former insisting on their
right to stay, and the latter demanding that the Sultan's men leave.
The Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs,
on one hand, had urged the party of the Sultan to leave peacefully. On
the other hand, the Moro National Liberation Front primarily based in
the Sulu archipelago and led by Chairman Nur Misuari, has expressed
its support of the Sultan’s Sabah claim while calling for a peaceful
resolution of the situation.
As this unanticipated event developed, there is fear that it might
negatively affect the peace process between the Philippine government
and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, facilitated by the Malaysian
Government. The Philippine government and the MILF had signed the
Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) on October 15, 2012, with
the support of Malaysia. The rising tension over the situation in
Lahad Datuh needs to be resolved not just expeditiously but
peacefully. It is necessary to ensure that the standoff does not
deteriorate into violence. A violent resolution of the Lahad Datu
situation will have negative impact on the finalization of the
Philippine Government-Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace process.
Significantly, the FAB is seen by critics to have apparently left out
the MNLF and again cast aside the Sabah question. The Framework
Agreement covers a territory that includes the island provinces of
Sulu, Tawitawi and Basilan. These provinces are part of the domain of
the Sultanate of Sulu, which has historical claim over Sabah. Thus,
while there is no mention about Sabah in the FAB, there is a
Philippine claim over Sabah, which has been brought to the
International Court of Justice. Leaders of the island provinces, part
of the Sultanate of Sulu, have always maintained that the historical
claim to Sabah must be taken into consideration in the peace process.
In this light, the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID)
strongly supports a peaceful and diplomatic resolution to the Sabah
standoff between the Royal Army of the Sultanate of Sulu and Malaysian
security forces in Lahad Datu, Sabah. The involvement of key players,
such as MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari and the Sultan of Sulu will be
instrumental in resolving this impasse. They, together with the
Malaysian and Philippine government leaders, must ensure that the
situation does not escalate into violence. All avenues must be taken
to avoid bloodshed.
The PCID also urges the Aquino administration to reactivate its
pursuit of the resolution of the Philippine claim over Sabah, which it
had filed before the International Court of Justice. A just and
peaceful resolution of the sovereign claim of the Sulu Sultanate,
erstwhile ceded to the Philippine Government, will remove a thorny
issue that has caused much uncertainty in the relationship between
Malaysia and the Philippines.
Further, the Philippine Government should protect the proprietary
rights of Sultan Jamalul Alam's heirs, identified in the 1939 ruling
of Chief Justice C.F.C. Macaskie of the High Court of North Borneo.
The heirs were Dayang-Dayang (Princess) Hadji Piandao, who was
acknowledged as the major share-holder with 3/8 share; Princess
Tarhata Kiram and Princess Sakinur-In Kiram, were to have 3/16th share
each; Mora Napsa, Sultan Esmail Kiram, Datu Punjungan, Sitti Mariam,
Sitti Jahara and Sitti Rada, who were awarded 1/24th share each.
All the principal heirs have died. The rights of their heirs, most of
whom are Filipino citizens, must be protected by the Philippine
The PCID calls on the Philippine Government to create a Sabah
Committee, under the Office of the President, to address the
Philippine Claim to Sabah. The members of the Committee should include
the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Justice, Department
of Local Government, Department of National Defense, Mindanao
Development Authority, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace
Process, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, a representative of the
Sultanate of Sulu as well as a representative of the heirs to Sabah.
Past Philippine Administrations have attempted to address the Sabah
claim but were unable to reach a lasting and generally acceptable
conclusion. However, this must not discourage the stakeholders and
peace advocates from pursuing an inclusive, just and sustainable
formula that will satisfy the concerns not just of the Philippine and
Malaysian Governments but particularly of the Sulu Sultanate and the
private heirs to Sabah.
“The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and
reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear Allah,
that ye may receive Mercy.”
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
February 7, 2013
I have come to believe, each
time more strongly, that the more freedom one has, the more
responsibility he should also exercise. The two cannot and should not
Freedom is such a tremendous
gift that it gives us power to be anything or anywhere we want to be,
including to be in the gutter – or worse, in hell. That’s why, it has
to be directed and conformed to a law that is meant to be good for all
That’s not a limitation of
freedom. That actually enhances freedom, since that makes freedom to
get engaged with its proper purpose. That’s when freedom would truly
serve us for our own good and the good of everyone else. And that good
is none other than ultimately to love God and others in the truth.
The Internet, especially its
very popular social networking services, has opened a wide, new and
apparently endless and borderless avenue for us to exercise our
freedom of expression. It has brought about a quantum leap of benefits
and advantages unknown before.
In the words of Pope
Benedict XVI, the digital social networks are creating “a new ‘agora,’
an open public square in which people share ideas, information and
opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can
come into being.”
He went to the extent of
saying that the spaces created by this new technology, if properly
handled, can make the exchange of information into true communication,
the links can ripen into friendship, and connections can facilitate
That’s why, according to the
Pope, all those who make use of them must exert great effort to be
“authentic since, it is not only ideas and information that are
shared, but ultimately our very selves.”
That’s a statement worth
meditating on, if only to make into a strong conviction the truth that
in any communication, it is not merely ideas that are exchanged, but
ultimately a person-to-person interrelationship is taking place.
Great care therefore has to
be done. And it should be made clear that in these exchanges, it is
not only about who makes sense or more sense that matters, but rather
the ultimate goal and requirements of charity have to be reached and
We need to examine ourselves
more deeply if we are using the Internet and its social network
services properly. While it’s true that these technologies can be used
to further facilitate our ordinary communications, we also need to
make sure that they are not used to foster inanities, vanities, waste
of time, obsessions or worse, to commit big sins and crimes.
Nowadays, pornography is a
common stuff in this environment. Also phishing and trolling. And all
sorts of fraud and forms of indignities are committed.
We definitely need to check
ourselves frequently to see if our use of these powerful means is on
the right track toward our proper goal, if we truly are facilitating
authentic communication, if we are all becoming better persons,
understanding and loving each other more, aside from understanding
issues more deeply, etc.
The digital world should
improve our capacity for tolerance to an ever-increasing range of
diversity, but it should also sharpen our love for one another and our
understanding and appreciation of opinions as well as absolute truths.
These should be the standard
and criteria to assess the quality of our use of these means. We
cannot remain cavalier in this regard, because these new technologies,
while giving us great good, can also cause big and even almost
irreparable damage to us.
We also need to understand
that there has to be an effort to use these technologies for the
ultimate purpose of communication. And that is evangelization,
spreading the Good News about God and ourselves with respect to our
The Pope spells this out
quite clearly. “The challenge facing social networks is how to be
truly inclusive,” he said. That means these networks should include
God and should be open to all.
Otherwise, these powerful
means can be likened to the Tower of Babel that was built for the
purpose of reaching heaven merely by human effort. God destroyed it
and made it to cause such confusion of languages that the people could
not understand one another anymore.
We need to be most
responsible in enjoying the tremendous freedom afforded by the
Internet and its very popular social networks. When we use them, are
we clearly driven by love for God and for the common good, or are we
just allowing our merely human and temporal impulses free play?
Senators of the
15th Congress: be the heroes of the poor and hungry! pass NLUA today!
A press statement by the
Campaign for Land Use Policy Now! (CLUP Now!)
February 6, 2013
it almost the end for NLUA, yet again?
After the CREBA deluge of paid ads last Monday against the National
Land Use Act, suddenly 3 Senators expressed interest to interpellate
last Monday – Drilon, Villar and Marcos. Yesterday, Senator Enrile
joined the fray. He and Senator Marcos said they were not yet ready to
give their individual amendments. Senator Villar was absent. Only
Senator Drilon finished giving his amendments.
After three years of deliberation, discussions, consultations on this
landmark bill, they suddenly pay attention to it on the last three
days of session! It was already approved on 2nd reading last week but
was reverted back after a mere motion last Monday. It secured a
Certification as Urgent from the President and yet, some Senators are
still belaboring its passage.
Twenty-two Senators approved the Committee report. This was even a
campaign promise by Senator Enrile during the 2010 elections. So they
didn't bother to study it, only until a group of real estate
developers came out with a million pesos worth of paid ads in one day?
Or was it all a ploy to really push it against the wall on the last
three days of session when its champion, Senator Gringo Honasan and
advocates of NLUA can't do anything about it anymore?
The bill only wants to ensure the country's food self sufficiency and
climate change adaptation! It wants to make sure that LGUs will follow
minimum requirements for using land for food security, ecological
conservation and safe settlements. NLUA will just map out what is
already mandated under existing laws for Protection, Production,
Settlements and Infrastructure.
For instance, prime agricultural lands (10.5 million hectares) are
already mandated as protected under the Network of Protected
Agricultural and Agro-Industrial Development (NPAAAD) of the
Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) or RA 8435. The
Department of Agriculture affirms that LGUs have attested to this
coverage through consultations.
Furthermore, local autonomy is NOT being compromised. There are
processes involved in formulating the National Land Use Plan. Only the
framework and guidelines to formulate the plan will be set at the
Today, we hope and pray again that the Senators will deliver their
amendments, and heed the appeal of Senator Honasan to finish their
comments so the bill will be passed today. After all, it has been
certified as urgent by no less than the President.
Dear Senators, developed economies now, like Saudi Arabia, South Korea
and Japan, are turning to other countries to grow their food. We are
still blessed with agricultural lands to grow our own food and develop
a full-blown industry from agriculture. 40% of the country’s labor
force is still in agriculture and 70% of our poor are in the
agriculture sector as well.
We don’t think you would rather plant houses than food on our land.
The marginalized and vulnerable Pinoys cannot even afford to buy their
food, let alone spend on these housing projects targeted for overseas
workers. It’s so easy to convert land to non-agricultural uses but it
is so difficult to revert land back to agriculture. Engineering
solutions are more available for settlements rather than reviving soil
fertility. Also urban spaces are not just on the land now but use
airspace as well. So why be afraid of protecting lands for
If only Congress bothered to pass NLUA 20 years ago, perhaps all those
lives lost at Cherry hills, La Isla Oro, from Ondoy, Sendong, Frank,
Pablo and countless other storms could have been saved. The urban poor
say the resettlement areas they are thrown off to are still located in
geo-hazard areas and with poor access to basic services. The list of
reasons for passing NLUA can go on and on, but if the Senators still
fear the unknown of NLUA, we will never really achieve food security
and safe settlements for future generations.
President Benigno Aquino III himself underscored the importance of
this legislation when he certified the NLUA as URGENT.
CLUP Now! strongly urges, appeals, beseeches the Senators of this
Congress to pass NLUA, TODAY! CREBA, although powerful, is just ONE
sector. They do not represent us, the MAJORITY of this nation – the
farmers, fisherfolk, urban poor and indigenous peoples sectors.
We voted for you as our legislators in the august chambers of
Congress, expecting that you will be our voices and protect our
interests in crafting the laws of our land.
PLEASE HEED OUR VOICES NOW – PASS NLUA TODAY AND FOREVER BE OUR
Gutting the 7th
JUAN L. MERCADO, firstname.lastname@example.org
February 1, 2013
Have the “10 Commandments”
been watered down into the “10 Suggestions”? That’s what today’s brawl
over Congress Resolution No 10 – that auditors be barred from peering\
into legislators spending – is all about.
Hit the rewind button.
Senators adopted CR10 on Aug. 24, 2011. This castrated the Commission
on Audit of it’s constitutional power to check how senator and
congressmen handled your tax shekels. It also exempted members from
submitting receipts, vouchers, etc. They’d get away with a
The House scrambled to catch
up on Feb. 1, 2012. Walang hindi nagbibighani, kapag ang salapi ay
kumakalansing,” a Tagalog proverb explains. “When money jingles,
everyone is attracted.”
Congressional scramble for
unaudited funds erupted into scandal when Senate President Juan Ponce
Enrile gift wrapped, for Christmas, P1.6 million checks, culled from
peso “maintenance and other operating expenses”. He doled that to 18
That’s legalized theft,
snarled Senator Miriam Santiago – who returned her P250 thousand peso
check. From 2008 to 2013, MOOE bolted from P759 million to P1.57
billion, just in the Senate.
An audit will document the
same profligacy with taxpayers pesos in the Lower House. Congressmen
too scribble a “special power of attorney” or SPA and – Bingo!
Hard-earned taxpayer pesos floods in for salaries and allowances for
untallied staff. Does a congressman have 10 employees? Maybe 40? CR10
bars taxpayers from asking.
The stink became so
offensive, Senator Panfilo Lacson suggested in a radio interview: “The
Senate needs an enama to purge the toxins. But it needs to act".
Follow my example, he prodded colleagues. My office staff has been
ordered to open all our books.”
“Did the man say all?”,
Inquirer’s View point asked. That would include Lacson admitting he
authored CR10. The resolution was “was not in our consciousness” when
it was passed, Lacson mumbled. Adoption of his “brainchild” slipped
thru “unnoticed amid many others that the Senate approved”. Is this
selective amnesia? Or is it “CYA” otherwise known as covering your
Lacson, who spurned pork
barrel allocations, said he wouldn’t mind if his handiwork were to be
junked. Is this a ruthless Saul turned into a evangelizing Paul?.
Nonsense, snap Lacon’s critics who quote the Ilocano proverb: Ti uwak
waray digos, nagsiti latta. ”Although it bathes, the crow remains
Such abuse does not occur in
a vacuum. “Poverty is inextricably linked to corrupt practices that
are deeply rooted in society,” says the earlier Ateneo de Naga
University’s book, “Cross Sectoral Study of Corruption in the
Philippines”. Indeed the monstrosity of corruption seems utterly
difficult to capture in a single illustration” (Like CR10?)
"Perceptions of corruption
color vocabulary", the book researchers found. They also shape
imagery. Four symbols were seated into minds, especially of students,
urban poor and NGOs. These were: crocodile (buaya); a contagious
disease (isang-sakit na makakahawa); octopus with tentacles (galamay);
and roots (ugat) of a tree.
Local parlance reflects this
infection. These include: Utos sa taas (“Order from above”) to
tea-money: “may pangmeryenda ka ba dyan?” (“Speed money” greases). And
indigenous folk dub grafters: maro – not trustworthy.
Utang na loob reciprocity is
not seen a bribery but fulfillment of a social obligation.
“Opportunities for graft are created when people tolerate the
unpunished corrupt. So do wide discretionary powers” (as in CR10 ).
The book says it is essential to stip glamour from the corrupt and
instill transparency mechanisms, Chairperson Grace Pulido Tan seems
determined to do just that. COA is starting a “no-holds-barred audit”,
in line with it’s constitutional mandate, she informed the Senate. Tan
asked auditors be given access to all relevant documents in a letter
to the chairman of accounts – by happenstance, Lacson.
If you can’t beat them, join
them. In a caucus, they agreed to scrap “certification”. Senators must
now file receipts, vouchers, etc., announced – not as author of the
reviled CR10 – but as chair of the committee on accounts.
Enrile informed Speaker
Feliciano Belmonte of the Senate decision to bail out, Lacson added.
“It’s the Lower House call if they will waive [the resolution] or
rescind it. But for us, no ifs and buts. The Senate will comply.“
Senator Aquilino Pimentel,
meanwhile, filed Senate Resolution 930. This seeks to curb an epidemic
of 35 congressional “oversight committees” that chew up another P400
The committees sprawl from
biofuels, labor, disaster risk reduction to special purpose vehicles.
Merge their duties with that of appropriate legislative committees,
Pimentel sensibly proposed.
COA’s Grace Pulido Tan’s
effort to bring to light what crooks in legislative robes tried to
hide will be sabotaged at every turn. Vultues do not let go of carrion
lightly. Indeed, CR10 is only the latest devise whereby they turned
both houses of Congress, meant for statesmen, into a den of thieves.
They swear by Napoleon Bonparte’s axiom: “Money has no fatherland.”
If Tan’s audit succeeds in
ripping down CR10 blinders, she’ll stop Congress’ gutting of the 7th
Commandment: “Thou shall not steal.” Tan will enter history as one of
COA’s giants. She will also ensure our grandchildren will be spared
the scourge of “dark money”.
“Few will have the greatness
to bend history itself,” Robert Kennedy once wrote. “Only those who
dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly…There are those that
look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that
never were, and ask why not?”
Political genius or
January 26, 2013
As a priest, I of course do
not do politics, that is to say, I cannot run for public office, I
cannot take partisan positions in public, unless the issues involved
are clearly inhuman and unchristian. But I should follow it closely,
because politics is part of life and needs to be guided by the proper
spirit of Christ.
That’s the reason why there
is the social doctrine of the Church that also covers politics. While
it is the lay faithful who can take active and direct part of it, the
clergy should also see to it that the whole political life in all
levels of society is done properly.
Besides, the clergy is also
part of the citizenry, subject to the laws of the land. They are part
of the political life, obviously in a way proper to their state.
Everyone takes part of politics always in accordance to one’s state
and possibilities, the clerics in their own way, the lay also in their
This doctrine of the Church
has to be understood properly. It is that way because the priest’s
mission is eminently spiritual and supernatural in nature. It’s a
mission that is above but not exempt from the understandable
differences and conflicts of temporal affairs such as politics.
Thus the priest has to be
extremely discerning to do his part in the political life of the
country. He is not supposed to take a passive stance in it. He should
be disinterested, but not uninterested. At least he has to pray a lot,
offer a lot of sacrifices, do a lot of catechizing, etc. He has to be
keenly interested in it, but in a specific way.
Having said that preamble, I
must admit that I enjoy reading political developments here and
abroad. There is obviously the chance to get excited with all the
twists and turns of the political maneuverings politicians do. But at
the end of the day, I bring these political items to prayer, trying to
discern how things ought to go.
And I learn a lot from this
exercise, since it allows me to read between the lines, to somehow
read the minds of people, politicians especially, and to read the
signs of the times. While there is a lot of tentativeness in this
exercise, it actually gives me a lot of ideas and all sorts of
impulses that I need to tame and clarify.
As of now, I learn a lot
from certain moves of some politicians, both local and international.
There are instances when I think the move is stupid, but also many
instances when I am convinced the move is brilliant, is a
Since politicians are at the
forefront of the development of society, they cannot help but be
extremely cautious and smart in their actuations – their planning,
their speeches, their public appearances, etc.
But they cannot avoid
controversies and conflicts. And I must say that I admire how some of
them handle these situations well – how they explain their positions,
or defend them when attacked, how they have a good sense of timing and
of what to say to what kind of audience at a given time.
Some of them really have
excellent speaking talents, with sharp minds and witty tongues, and
very adept both in aggressive and defensive tactics. Obviously, there
are some who truly are political geniuses. But there sadly are others
who can only elicit the judgment, tentative at best, of being
political animals bereft of conscience.
Political developments are
actually good learning moments. They should not be wasted by tackling
it superficially as in simply giving knee-jerk reactions that tend to
exaggerate or oversimplify things and are prone to make negative
responses more than positive.
In short, politic
discussions and analyses should go beyond the level of the barbers.
Let’s pray that our political columnists really do their part well,
giving well-thought-out opinions and commentaries that should always
be characterized by charity and fairness.
Sad to say, there are
instances when some of these commentators are just out and out unfair,
painting their enemy-politicians as the devil incarnate while putting
their friend-politicians on a pedestal as if these are incapable of
sinning. That’s really over the top or way under the bottom.
We have to learn to hold our
horses when reacting to political issues. Let’s study them first,
weigh things disinterestedly. Better, bring them to our prayer and ask
God for light. We need to learn to relate political developments and
issues to God and to the common good.
JUAN L. MERCADO, email@example.com
January 18, 2013
Tourists, touts, pilgrims
to, dancers jam Cebu City Sunday for the centuries-old Santo Nino
fiesta. It’s easy to skid into non-essentials. Who’ll elbow the way to
first places, in viewing stands? Battling a suspension order, will
Gov. Gwen Garcia emerge from Capitol redoubt to shashay with a town
troupe? Where will Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale sit?
A “Devotees City” opened to
house indigent pilgrims. Hotels are full. The finale will highlight
canonization of Pedro Calungsod, first saint from the Visayas. Ms
Razini Alexis Gomez, who won as Ms Tourism International, will lead
500 young dancers. “Oh to be 70 again” 84-year old Justice Oliver
Wendell Holmes sighed when young chicks flitted by.
“Typhoon Sendong, and Pablo
caused some of the out-of-town contingents to beg off. But eight
others will come. And a hundred boats will trail the launch, bearing
the Niño, up Mactan Channel. In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan’s vessels
carried this icon on galleons that sailed up this then-pristine
strait. (Since 1970, the quality of Mactan water has deteriorated as
waste is dumped, University of San Carlos environmental monitoring
Sunday rites recall the
account by Italian chronicler Antonio Pigafetta, Italian chronicler on
Magellan presenting the Niño to the newly-baptized Queen Juana. After
Magellan died on 27 April 1521 in the Battle of Mactan, the image
disappeared. On 28 April 1565, Spanish mariner Juan de Camus, a member
of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi’s follow-up expedition, found the statue
the ruins of a burnt house.
It is now enshrined at the
basilica and over the centuries, draws crowds. Some are curious. Many
go for a culture bash. And scores pray for help. Affection for the
Child wells up from below. No organizing committee can jerry-rig such
Myths abound. Some nights,
an old tale goes: the Child slips away from his altar. He walks the
streets: comforting, blessing, curing. Dawn, the Niño’s cloak is
sometimes studded with the weed: amor seco (Spanish for “dry love”).
Some botanists shrug. Andropogan aciculatus merely proves deforested
Cebu is semi arid.
“The Sto. Niño, isn’t about
a cute, harmless little boy”, writes Fr. Johnny Go, SJ. We treat him
either like a lucky charm that we display in our homes, or like some
Catholic version of Barbie doll. The feast recalls reminds us he
stayed back in Jerusalem where his questions stunned Temple leaders.
“Why did you look for me?, he asked Mary and Joseph. “Did you not know
I must be about my Father’s concerns?”
“The Feast of the Sto. Niño
teaches us about the courage and faith of a young boy amidst all the
uncertainties and the pains that always accompany those growing-up
years. Our Lord was beginning to realize that it was time to let go of
his own preferences because his life was not his own.”
But is worship sealed off,
on a “split level”, from deeds?, the Jesuit psychologist Jaime
Bulatato often asked. Indeed, popular devotion “continues to animate
the life of the people”, The Third Pastoral Assembly said earlier. Is
there a marked dichotomy between faith and life, between worship and
An official who attends
Mass, honoring the Child, has no qualms about pocketing “Christmas
gifts” from realigned funds courtesy of Senate President Juan Ponce
Enrile. And some who lighted tapers, in the Niño’s procession, ushered
in Cebu’s “hot car miracle”: registrations vaulted from only two in
2006 to 3,906.
The litmus test for devotion
to the Niño is how Filipino children fare here. Chronic hunger reduces
one out of three into a puny underweight. That’s 9.31 million kids.
Another 3.8 are stunted. They don’t starve to death. But debilitating
– and preventable – diseases like TB, anemia, diarrhea take their
toll. Nutrition National Survey found that, improvement inched forward
by only five percent. “At this rate, it will take maybe half a century
before we can eradicate the problem of malnutrition”.
"How can the Sto. Niño today
become the refuge of families who are landless, jobless, homeless,
hungry and who lack basic services?”, asks the Visayas Clergy
Discernment Group. “Our celebrations will be like empty clanging
cymbals (Amos 5:21-24) if the above concrete realities of the least of
the Sto. Niño's brothers and sisters are not addressed effectively.”
Kids can’t wait. “Their name
is today”. A recent issue of the British medical journal “The Lancet”
found, in a study of the Philippines and 19 other countries, that
“undernutrition is to blame for 3.5 million deaths among children aged
under five each year – more than a third of child deaths worldwide,”
it concluded. Most fatalities “occur in 20 countries, where targeted
aid programs could swiftly address the problem.”
Majority of deaths are
“inflicted indirectly by stunting and poor resistance to disease. And
two of the biggest culprits are lack of vitamin A and zinc during the
mother’s pregnancy and the child’s first two years of life.” Striking
a child in anger may be pardoned, George Bernard Shaw once said. “But
a blow, against a child in cold blood,” as in the continued tolerance
of malnutrition, is an obscenity. “Let the little children come to
Me,” the Niño said.