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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Addressing hunger

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The recently released survey by the Social Weather Stations, which suggested at least 5.2 million of the 110 million population of the country had experienced hunger once in the past three months, should be a portent of things to come in these difficult times.

Addressing hunger

Words of fellowship, while they can somehow assuage the memory of experienced hunger—officially called involuntary hunger—cannot put the image of an alleviating full plate soon enough on the dining table.

The SWS survey, done from July 3 to 6 involving 1,555 respondents, showed hunger increasing by 4.2 points, or from 16.7 in May 2020 and 12.1 points from 8.8 percent in December 2019, the rate recorded being the highest since the 4.8 million families registered in September 2014.

The 20.9-percent rate in early July represented Moderate to Severe Hunger, the Moderate Hunger defined by SWS as pangs “only once or a few times” in the last three months, while those who experienced Severe Hunger went through it “often or always.”

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SWS said 15.8 percent or an estimated 3.9 million families experienced “Moderate Hunger,” while 5.1 percent or an estimated 1.3 million families experienced “Severe Hunger,” with SWS saying Moderate Hunger rose from 13.9 percent in May 2020 to 15.8 percent in July 2020—the highest since the 17.6 percent or an estimated 3.8 million families registered in September 2014.

The Visayas posted the highest hunger rate with an estimated 27.2 percent or 1.3 million families suffering from a lack of food, while Mindanao had 24.2 percent and Luzon 17.8 percent.

We note the sadness expressed by Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, who argued that several factors contributed to the respondents' answers that they experienced hunger, with emphasis by him in the Visayas where the hunger incidence was highest, given that the province of Cebu was under enhanced community quarantine, the highest restriction level placed by the national government.

Responding to SWS' strong suggestion to open the economy and provide livelihood opportunities to Filipinos, Roque called on citizens that, to save the economy and people's jobs, “we first have to save lives by ramping up testing for COVID-19 and observing the minimum public health standards by wearing masks, washing hands and keeping a safe distance.”

That's a body-swerve, as it were, and does not address head on the raised idea that businesses, for instance, be allowed to reopen fast in Metro Manila and nearby Calabarzon region—the government-imposed protocols to be strictly implemented by the authorities—which together submit 67 percent of the domestic economy.

We feel the government has its mind and heart for those who must feed their families. Involuntary or severe hunger should never, ever, catch up with the still skilled but now unwaged or jobless Filipinos.

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