P1-B fight vs poverty

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — RESOLVED to keep hunger at bay, President Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday ordered the budget department to release P1 billion for various hunger-mitigation programs.

The President issued the directive during the meeting of the Anti-Hunger Task Force that she convened at the Manila Hotel during which she also led the awards ceremony for the Outstanding Nutrition Scholars.

“… dapat paramihin ang murang pagkain — ito ang supply side strategy. At palaguin ang kita at hanapbuhay ng masa — ito ang demand side,” the President said.

Mrs. Arroyo said this is based on the Hunger Mitigation Program Framework of the National Economic Development Authority which recognizes the problem with hunger due to the unavailability or insufficiency of food to eat and lack of money to purchase needed items.

“Nakasentro ang plano sa murang pagkain, tulong sa nagugutom, patrabaho sa kalsada at kabukiran, gulayang pampamilya, microfinance, at dagdag sahod sa ilalim ng mga Regional Wage Board,” she said.

“Sa supply side, bahagi ng plano ng NEDA na palakasin ang produksiyon ng pagkain, at pahusayin ang sistema ng paghatid ng pagkain. Sa demand side naman, kailangan na dagdagan ang kita ng tao, ituro ang wastong pagkain, at palaganapin ang natural na pagplano ng pamilya, kasama ang ilang taong agwat sa pag-aanak,” she said.

She also cited programs to enhance the efficiency of logistics and food delivery including the setting up of more Barangay Food Terminal and Tindahan Natin outlets, the use of roll-on, roll-off ferries, the construction of more farm to market roads and the implementation of Food for School programs.

Palace officials said the latest Social Weather Stations survey which showed 52 percent or about nine million Filipino families consider themselves poor and 42 percent or more than seven million families rate themselves as “food-poor” or going hungry is lower compared to the figures under the administrations of former presidents Aquino, Ramos and Estrada.

Despair

The recent suicide of an 11-year-old girl in Davao City due to poverty should serve as a “distress signal” to government leaders that there are more things that must be done to address the condition of the less privileged sector of society.

Sen.Ramon Revilla Jr. stressed this point in reaction to the reported poverty-motivated suicide of Marianette Amper last November 2. The girl hanged herself inside their house in Barangay Maa, Davao City after losing hope in her family’s miserable situation.

“The unending bickering of elected leaders and politicians does not help. We should be sources of hope, not prophets of hopelessness. It’s very sad that Marianette decided to end her life because of feeling hopeless. Let’s not wait for another tragic incident like this to happen,” Revilla said.