|Corruption in the Philippines|
Regarding your letter below: according to Howard Roberts, a member of our congregation in Tacoma, WA, we received a letter from Jim McDonald dated May 12, 1999 which said that the area which has not yet recovered and where the deaths from starvation are occurring is in Southeast Mindanao, which is rugged and isolated. Is this the case, and the reason for the "discrepancies" in the different reports?
Sadly I must tell you that the location is not the problem. I spent most of April and May with a young preacher from that part of Mindanao. After reading Jim McDonald's report I searched through various newspapers and internet news sites (a good source for Philippine news is www.balita.org , which is a national news service here). If you search in balita for "starv"(which will catch all the variations in spelling) and "Mindanao", you will find that there were 64 deaths by starvation in the entire island of Mindanao during the drought last year. You will also find that most of those deaths occurred in Southwestern Mindanao among the tribals (again non-Christians).
If you use Balita to research the rats and locusts you will find that the area affected is indeed a remote place, but not so remote that the newspapers don't go and get pictures. The people there are tribal (by definition, as I explained in the longer letter below, non-Christians).
The only thing that the remteness of the places hurt worst will do is make it impossible for Jim McDonald to even check if the stories are true or not. I saw in a letter he put out that he was only going to be in Davao less than two days. He cannot stay so short a time and do any investigation. He will have to hand the money over to someone (or some group) who will promise to deliver it), but the ones who will be given the money are the same ones who made up the stories. Do you see the problem in that? Paul taught us to be good stewards. The early Christians who shared with famine victims knew the truth of the reports and knew that Christians were affected and sent their own messenger who would verify the need. But now there will be no verification, there will be no investigation of the reprts, and there is no certainty that any Christians are affected. Furthermore, there is no financial accountability so there is no good stewardship.
Your decision and that of the church there of course remains your own. I simply write so that I will not feel that I have neglected to give warning of what I see to be a wrong. In whatever decision you make, I pray that it will be with the wisdom of God and His word.
Yours in His service,