Friday, November 09, 2007

The real price of capitalism's failures

From the Independent

All she wanted was a bicycle, a pair of new shoes and to be able to finish her schooling. But her family was dirt poor, and eventually the 12-year-old Filipina girl grew so demoralised that she hanged herself.

Mariannet Amper left a letter under her pillow describing her failed hopes and aspirations.The letter found under her pillow was addressed to a television programme, I Just Wish, which grants viewers' wishes.
In it, Mariannet wrote: "I wish for new shoes, a bag and jobs for my mother and my father. My dad does not have a job and my mum just gets laundry jobs." She added: "I would like to finish my schooling and I would very much like to buy a new bike."

Her family also found a diary in which she described the privations of a life with no money in Davao City, on southern Mindanao island. The night before she killed herself with a nylon rope in their modest hut, which has no electricity or running water, Mariannet had asked her father, Isabelo, for 100 pesos (about £1) for a school project. But he had no money. The next day, he managed to get a 1,000-pesos cash advance for some building work on a chapel. But when he got home to tell her, his daughter was already dead.

In the Philippines, nearly 14 per cent of the 87 million population lives on less than a dollar a day, despite government claims that the economy is booming.

In a recent survey, the Social Weather Stations institute found that about nine million Filipino families regarded themselves as poor. Most live in the south of the country. Many of them said they had experienced "severe hunger" in the past three months.

The Global Call for Action Against Poverty, a coalition of anti- poverty groups, said its own research showed that economic growth was not trickling down to the people who needed it.

Yet , President Gloria Arroyo told a business forum yesterday that "The common people are now feeling the benefits of a growing economy,"

In her diary, Mariannet wrote : "We were not able to hear Mass because we did not have fare and my father had a fever. So my mum and I just washed clothes for money."

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