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PIA Press Release

Poverty relief programs strengthened to mitigate hunger

By Jessie R. Valdez

San Fernando City, La Union (22 March) -- Fighting poverty and hunger is an international challenge facing the world today and yet the Philippines is still lucky because this lingering issue is a constant priority of the government as it takes bold steps to mitigate the problem and identify the vulnerable areas and communities where hunger may be prevalent and is also effectively addressed in consolidation with LGUs and NGOs.

According to SWS report, hunger incidence in the country was 19% and is a little bit higher than the result last November. It added that some Filipinos suffer “involuntary hunger” at least once in the past 3 months in Metro Manila and in some areas in the country.

But, PGMA in a statement, refuted the survey results saying the increase was not totally attributed to poverty and lack of opportunities but also to the spending patterns of the people while DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral attributed the mild hunger incidence to the series of killer typhoons and floods that hit the country last year and was aggravated with the delay of Congress’ approval for the national 2006 budget. “Naturally, funds intended to mitigate the problem has not been immediately implemented.”

A lady commentator in the dailies also supported the statement of the President and added that “involuntary hunger” is a confession of a lazy household head so, it is where the government comes to create more job opportunities as mandated in her 10-Point Agenda and bring income to the people for them to have food on the table.

The Arroyo Government has long and immediate term anti-poverty programs to dent the incidence of hunger as to the overall drive for investments and jobs, pushing anti-poverty programs, revitalizing the infrastructure, focus on growing the economy and provided working capital for livelihood projects to small entrepreneur, SMEs.

The DSWD Field Office I headed by Director Margarita V. Sampang, CESO IV, indicated in their report that for the past 3 months of this year, they have doled out P2M capital assistance for the small micro enterprises development in Region I through the Self Employment Assistance Kaunlaran (SEA-K) program.

The report added that this is a continuous program of the Arroyo Government where groups of poor families are beneficiaries. Ilocos Sur received the highest capital assistnce amounting to P850,000 for 8 associations; Pangasinan, P700,000 for 7 associations; La Union, P300,000 for 4 associations and Ilocos Norte (Solsona & Pinili) P160,000 for 2 associations.

Director Sampang said in a statement that the SEA-K program of the DSWD has gained appreciation from the different stakeholders and is advocated by the Arroyo Administration as one of the most successful and beneficial poverty alleviation program.

Also, the DSWD’s report, La Union’s Tindahan Natin, another effective intervention mounted by the Government have expanded by 120 from its original 29 outlets and this provides sufficient rice , noodles and other basic commodities at government set (lower ) prices.

Other intervention programs that gains ground in La Union include PGMA’s “Hunger Mitigation Program (HMP) with the following components: 1) Food for School Program and “Bigas para sa Mag-aaral at Pamilya” which provides rice to families who suffer from severe hunger through their children in Grade I, pre-schools and day care centers but now the food subsidy for school children will be in the form of milk, hot meal and vegetable based noodles which they can only partake while in school. The rice ration was discontinued by the Senate.

At present, the government has been putting up rolling stores in poor communities, checking on food prices in the markets and making sure food transport routes are running smoothly from farm to market. The government is also advancing agricultural production programs, broadening and speeding up the food distribution system and balancing out price disparities and fluctuations.

The Government will continue to make sure that nobody is left behind in the social payback of economic growth . Filipinos also re reminded the need to spend on the basics first before luxuries so children will have enough to eat. All aspects must be dealt with so the whole citizenry can be healthy and productive. (PIA La Union) [top]

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