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PIA Press Release

CHR eyes institution of people's right to food

Manila (7 October) -- Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is seeking inclusion of the right to food in government's National Action Plan on Human Rights (NAPHR).

CHR believes this will help further solidify government action on addressing hunger and raise nationwide public recognition of such right.

"More than a necessity, more than a need, right to food is an entitlement of every person, of every Filipino," CHR Chairperson Leila de Lima said in justifying the proposal.

She noted the matter is urgent, particularly since CHR's research shows over half of the Philippine population is experiencing hunger as poverty incidence nationwide rose by 2.9 percent in 2006 to 32.9 percent from 2003 levels.

"Such increase in statistics must be given due attention and concrete action by government," she said.

The Philippines is duty-bound to promote the right to food, particularly as it is a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which recognizes people's right to adequate living standards, she noted.

De Lima is likewise backing the right to food's inclusion in NAPHR as she lamented this is hardly tackled in-depth within the Philippines' legal framework.

She said the Constitution "has no express recognition of the right to food" and mentions 'food' not in a human rights context but in relation to government's duty of providing a nationwide food and drug regulatory system.

"At best, it is only by inference from the more general rights of social justice, adequate standard of living and the like," she said.

The Philippines still has no laws dealing with the right to food, she further noted.

CHR hopes two bills tackling this matter can be enacted soon.

These are Rep. Nonato Joson's House Bill 3711, the Food Security Act of 2008, and Rep. Leonila Chavez' House Bill 3870, the National Food Security Act of 2008.

During a Food and Agriculture Organization forum this month, de Lima reported CHR hasn't still filed or probed 'motu propio' cases related to the right to food.

"The apparent reason is lack or inadequacy in recognizing right to food in the Philippines both on the part of duty-bearers, as to their obligations, and claim holders as to their rights," she said.

On Oct. 16, the Philippines will join other nations in celebrating the annual World Food Day.

Among goals of this celebration is to strengthen international and national solidarity against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

This celebration is expected to help boost CHR's push for the right to food.

CHR earlier reported nationwide subsistence incidence or number of people unable to meet their basic food requirements rose during 2003-2006 period to 12.2 million people from 10.6 million people.

Rice price rise is among factors forcing people to forego eating meat, fish and other protein sources, de Lima said.

Failure to meet basic food requirements will compromise bid of government to realize Millenium Development Goal 1's sub-target of halving both proportion of population living below minimum dietary energy consumption and number of underweight children below five years old. (PNA) [top]

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