In a campaign stop at Tacloban, Leyte on Tuesday, broadcast journalist and senatorial candidate Jiggy Manicad vowed to end hunger for Filipinos if elected into the Senate as he recalled the food crisis and looting that happened in the city during his television coverage of the aftermath of Typhoon “Yolanda” in 2013.
“My number one platform is food because I saw what we experienced here, not just in Tacloban, not just in Eastern Visayas [during Yolanda]. We got to a point where we had money in our pockets, but we could not buy any food,” Manicad said in a speech in Filipino.
“There was looting. There were people who got food from the stores and went back to pay after the typhoon, but others were so hungry, they forgot to go back,” he added.
According to the veteran journalist, when areas experience a food crisis, chaos ensues. This has prompted him to tackle food security as one of his primary platforms.
“That is why my priority is to strengthen our agricultural sector by helping our farmers and giving them subsidies, especially for the diesel and gasoline that they use for their equipment,” Manicad explained.
The candidate also batted for benefits to boost the coconut industry and additional investments on irrigation in places with insufficient irrigation systems.
“The President is right to make irrigation free, but there are still places where there is not enough water, so we should really support this,” Manicad said.
“The effect of all these reforms is that when we bring more supplies of food to the cities, they can be bought at cheaper prices,” he added.
In light of the climate change, Manicad said the Philippines must plan to sustain the sufficiency of its food supply, especially since even now many Filipinos are only eating once a day.
“Some Filipinos only eat rice. If there is no rice, they will just drink water. If there is salt, that’s the only thing they will eat their rice. There are still many Filipinos who are hungry,” Manicad pointed out.
In a study made by the University of the Philippines School of Statistics, the incidence of self-rated hunger increased from 9.4% in the second quarter of 2018 to 13.3% in the third quarter of 2018.
Manicad also recalled his coverage of Typhoon Yolanda.
“When I arrived here, it seemed like a reunion because you have become a part of my life and I have become part of yours,” Manicad said. “There are those who say that I’m brave when it comes to covering the news, but here in Tacloban, I thought I was going to die. I made sure I was wearing my wedding ring because I thought that if they found my corpse, they can use it to identify me.”
Manicad also shared the ordeal he and his crew experienced in order to broadcast the news after the storm surge in Leyte, including having to climb trees and electricity cables, and walk for hours during their coverage.
For his coverage of Typhoon Yolanda, Manicad earned the Sangyaw Award from the Tacloban local government and the Super Journalist Award from the SM Super Media Awards body.
The coverage also became part of a GMA News and Public Affairs report compilation which led to a prestigious Peabody Award for the network in 2015.