Amid the sprouting of community pantries across the country, Senator Risa Hontiveros has filed Senate Bill 2126 or “Ensuring Zero Hunger for All Filipinos” to address the glaring gaps in the government response in addressing hunger and malnutrition.
“The Philippines has committed to end hunger and eradicate poverty by 2030 as part of its Sustainable Development Goals,” Hontiveros said.
The bill mandates the state to take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of individual’s right to food, design policies and to fund programs that would create conditions that will free Filipinos from hunger and reexamine the policies on the use, exploitation and management of resources to achieve the goal of ending hunger.
It would also provide adequate, coherent, and transparent policies that encourage and promote private citizen’s active participation such as through food banks and community pantries.
“Food banks and community pantries should be institutionalized so they can get the right amount of support from the government to serve and reach more people in need,” Hontiveros said.
Moreover, this measure would fully integrate the whole government approach to eradicate hunger. The government and all its instrumentalities would be compelled to work together across the portfolio boundaries to achieve an integrated response to eliminate hunger.
Meanwhile, Senator Christopher Go reiterated his call for a whole-of-nation approach to overcome the challenges posed by the new surges of COVID-19 infections worldwide.
He commended the participation of various sectors in the bayanihan efforts to unburden the poor and vulnerable. He said all kinds of initiatives to help fellow Filipinos must be welcomed and commended.
He encouraged Filipinos to always prioritize the welfare of the general population and do their part in helping those in need. He added that the efforts of various groups to help must be recognized instead of criticized.
He called on the private sector to further refine its safety measures to minimize the risks of transmitting the COVID-19 virus, especially in workplaces, while ensuring that essential business operations remained unhampered.
“We seek everyone’s solidarity in strictly observing the health protocols to ensure that we keep new infections at bay and not further overwhelm our healthcare system,” said Go.
He also asked the government to ramp up the production and distribution of masks, especially to those who cannot afford to buy their own.
“The government must step in to provide these necessities and ensure compliance of the public with minimum health standards,” he said.
He urged the government to always be inclusive by having an open dialogue with health experts and advocates to come up with viable solutions to various issues. In particular, he reiterated his appeal for the government to facilitate a thorough scientific study of potential COVID-19 medications and treatments, such as Ivermectin.
“Let me clarify that I am not advocating the use of any specific drug. We have regulatory processes in place that must be followed to protect the welfare of the public. However, we must keep an open mind so that Filipinos can be given access to any drug that may help prevent or cure COVID-19 as long as it has undergone the right process and is scientifically proven safe and effective,” he said.
As groups and sectors wait for their turn to get inoculated, Go continues to remind Filipinos to be on the lookout and remain vigilant against the threats of COVID-19.
On the other hand, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said we should learn from the concept of community pantry, which was simple and easy.
“I appeal to our officials not to make it difficult for those who want to help. This is the true spirit of bayanihan, so please leave themalone,” he said.