President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday said his administration is set to establish a nationwide food stamp program in partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to help Filipino families who are experiencing hunger.
Mr. Marcos said the program, first proposed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), is among a string of projects the government has in the pipeline in partnership with the regional bank.
“One of the things that are in the pipeline that is being developed, that is going to be of great assistance to our people, is a proposal by the DSWD for a food stamp program, which I’m surprised that we have never had, but it is something that we can see that has been effective in other countries,” he told reporters during his visit to the ADB headquarters in Mandaluyong City on Monday.
An estimated 3 million Filipino families experienced hunger at least once in the last three months of 2022 – or leading into the Christmas holidays — a survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) released in January showed.
The national survey of 1,200 adults found that 11.8 percent of Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger, which means being hungry and not having anything to eat, in the fourth quarter of last year.
The number of families facing hunger from October to December was highest in Mindanao at 12.7 percent, followed by the Visayas at 12 percent, Metro Manila at 11.7 percent, and Balance Luzon at 11.3 percent.
“It has been highest in Mindanao in 38 out of 100 surveys since July 1998,” the SWS noted.
During his visit to the ADB, Mr. Marcos met with the bank’s president, Masatsugu Asakawa, to discuss present and future projects geared toward the Philippines’ post-pandemic recovery and climate change resilience.
The President also discussed with the ADB guests and officials the 8-point socioeconomic agenda of his administration, wherein laid the blueprint for the Philippine Economic Development Plan for 2023 to 2028.
“Built on a transformative agenda to lift off from the economic setbacks of the pandemic, the Plan aims to achieve economic prosperity, inclusivity, and resilience to the two-pronged approach, developing and protecting the capabilities of individuals and of families and transforming production sectors to generate more quality jobs and competitive products, to facilitate the whole transformation process, these must be firmly implanted on the foundation of an enabling government environment that encompasses key aspects and sectors such as peace and justice, infra, inclusive finance, good governance, and climate and disaster resilience,” Mr. Marcos added.
According to the ADB 2022 Annual Report, the Philippines received a total of $2.99 billion in financial assistance last year, the 5th largest amount among its member countries.
Established in 1966, the ADB is a regional development bank created to promote economic and social progress in Asia and the Pacific region by providing loans, technical assistance, grants, and policy advice to its member countries. It currently has 68 member countries, including 49 from the Asia-Pacific region and 19 from outside the region.