Gov't redoubles efforts to address hunger
by Rose B Palacio
Davao City (1 February) -- The government is redoubling its efforts to address hunger, through food assistance, low-cost barangay stores, livelihood programs, cheaper medicines, emergency employment, and intensified food production, including better lives for families.
Cabinet Secretary Ricardo Saludo said the government aims to cut by half the incidence of severe hunger.
The poor have been benefiting from the nearly six years of unbroken economic expansion under the Arroyo administration from 2001 to 2006.
Secretary Saludo said that while hunger has been rising since oil—fueled price hikes from 2004 cut the poor's spending on food, economic gains in Metro Manila nearly cut in half the hunger incidence in the capital region.
The average self-rated poverty (SRP) under the present Administration from 2001 to 2006 is the lowest among presidents in the past two decades, he said.
Per survey data, average SRP under the present Administration was only 57.3 percent compared to 63.4 percent during the time of President Corazon Aquino; 62 percent under President Fidel V. Ramos; and 59.6 percent during the term of President Joseph Estrada.
Other indicators pointed out by Secretary Saludo showed rising incomes and better lives for the poor since 2001.
In the Annual Poverty Indicators Survey, poor families reported significant health insurance, access to electricity, and membership in people's organizations, among other areas, he said.
The Cabinet Secretary noted too the United Nations commendation of Philippine efforts in its 14 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which, he said, would help eliminate extreme poverty worldwide.
The country is making strong gains on nine MDGs, satisfactory achievements on three, and slow progress on three others, he said.
While admitting that more efforts are needed to bring the bounties of growth to areas and sectors not yet benefiting from the economic gains, Secretary Saludo said the government is increasing infrastructure and social services spending at double-digit rates every year and channeling much of it to less endowed regions. (PIA) [top]