Today is Thursday, 23rd May 2013
- New Lenovo reality game with Kobe puts the ball in your courtPosted 13 hours ago
- Fire hits Mindanao’s only public mental hospitalPosted 13 hours ago
- NPA raids security agency in Tagum City, hauls firearmsPosted 2 days ago
- Duterte says midnight liquor ban to discipline ‘children’Posted 2 days ago
- ‘True will and choice of the people,’ North Cotabato reelected guv says of victoryPosted 3 days ago
- ‘Geeks On A Beach’ tech and startup meet set in BoracayPosted 4 days ago
- Conversation in St. Mark’s PlacePosted 4 days ago
- Obama asked to collar Burmese President on human rights promisesPosted 4 days ago
- Asian ‘peacebuilders’ to arrive in Davao for Mindanao annual trainingPosted 4 days ago
- After February barricade, DSWD starts rice distribution to ‘Pablo’ survivorsPosted 5 days ago
Death By Poverty: Before Kristel, There Was Mariannet
Before Kristel Tejada, there was this 12-year old girl who allegedly committed suicide in Davao City.
Mariannet Amper was found hanging inside their rickety all-bedroom house in Barangay Maa on November 2, 2007.
She could have been as old as Kristel.
From an unknown sixth-grader, her name, her death, instantly became a cause célèbre.
The public was convinced that the cause of Mariannet’s death was poverty. Her diary was more than enough to convince them that the little girl–a daughter of a construction worker whose wife worked part-time in a noodle factory, if not washing other people’s laundry for P150 ($3.70)–was crushed by poverty.
Through her diary, Mariannet wished for her parents to find good paying jobs. She, too, lamented about the failure of her father, Isabelo, to give her P100 ($2.46) she needed for a school project. Before her suicide, she had been missing school.
And as Christmas was closing in, Mariannet wished for a pair of new shoes and bicycle for her little brother.
After her death came quickly all forms of help for her family. A television network, thinking it was not yet too late to show generosity to Mariannet, even gave a livelihood package to the Ampers.
The death of Mariannet was so gripping that even the Catholic church was caught in the dilemma of whether to give her funeral rites. In this Philippine Daily Inquirer article, Fr. Elias Ayuban Jr. JCD, a doctor of Canon Law, was quoted as saying that the “new Code of the Canon Law, promulgated in 1983, does not explicitly deny a Catholic funeral to people who committed suicide.”
“I do not see any reason or justification for prohibiting the observation of Catholic funeral rites,” Ayuban said.
On her funeral, the final blessing was done in a chapel.
Not by poverty
But Mariannet’s story did not end there. What followed shocked the public all the more. Mariannet, before her suicide, was allegedly raped.
Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, then the city Mayor, was also convinced that the suicide of Mariannet was brought by something more than poverty. His conviction was backed by a medico legal report that detailed the supposed lacerations found on the genitals of Mariannet.
Before this, Duterte even ordered an exhumation of the girl’s body. It was five days after she was buried.
Duterte even said that someone could have possibly killed Mariannet–that is was not a case of suicide.
In this story, medico legal Dr. Tomas Dimaandal, who conducted an autopsy in less that two hours, said the lacerations were in the “3 o’ clock and 9′o clock position.”
And with this, he asked that media stop dramatizing Mariannet’s story.
Nothing has been said about Mariannet–or about her family–until today.
Education for sale
Prof. Mae Fe Templa, Social Work Education Program Head of the Assumption College of Davao, said the death of Mariannet, and now of Kristel, are symbols of the country’s unresponsive, rotten system.
“Those who come from grassroots families, those who are living below poverty line, are directly hit by the policy of the government on education commercialization. The yellow government–the Aquino government–is pursuing the same formula being forced on us by the previous governments. We all have to face the same nature of problems–deprivation and marginalization of those who cannot afford the expensive cost of going to school. The government is making education a privilege of the few, the rich definitely, than a right of every Filipino,” said Templa, who also represents Act Teachers Partylist.
Templa also underscored the deaths of Mariannet and Kristel showed the failure of the government to respond genuinely to the need of the country’s majority–the poor.
“The economic priorities of the Philippines are not for the poor. These are not designed and implemented to help the poor but to strengthen transnational corporations. There is nothing for the improvement of the Filipino labor force. The agricultural production by the poor peasants is not supported by industrialization. Agriculture remains backward while plantations of cash crops are encouraged,” she said.
These, among others, Templa said, aggravate the condition of poverty being faced by urban poor families–like the families of Kristel and Mariannet.
As a reply to reports that Mariannet was raped, Templa said: “Most of those young children in urban poor communities are exposed to all forms of violence including sexual.”
“Girl children become convenient outlets of poor men’s low self-esteem and or aggression,” Templa said.