A pro-administration lawmaker on Monday filed a bill that makes food a right and the subject of sustained priority for the government.
Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles filed the bill in his effort to be part of the 18th Congress’ legacy in helping eradicate hunger and poverty in the country.
“Hunger remains a significant challenge to the country. With a Global Hunger Index score of 20.2 in 2018, the Philippines is considered to be suffering from ‘serious’ hunger based on the level of undernourishment and child wasting, stunting and mortality,” Nograles said.
Citing Social Weather Stations data, Nograles said 9.5 percent of Filipino families, or about 2.3-million families, suffered from hunger in the first quarter of 2019, a slight improvement from 10.5 percent in the last quarter of 2018 and down from 13.3 percent in 2016. But the latest figure still translates to about 11.5-million Filipinos experiencing moderate to extreme hunger, he said.
Nograles also said about 21.6 percent of the total population live below the poverty threshold of $1.25/day, citing the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture data as of February 2019.
He also cited the 2018 survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute 2018 showed that 19.9 percent of Filipino children, aged zero to five years old, were underweight.
Nograles’s filing of the bill was witnessed by representatives from the National Food Coalition (NFC), a broad organization of peasants, fisher folk, informal settlers, women, elderly, indigenous peoples and youth.
The NFC appealed to legislators as well as President Rodrigo Duterte to make this an urgent bill.
Once passed into law, the zero hunger bill would make food a sustained priority and a legal right, not an object of charity.
Nograles said the bill would establish and sustain the right to adequate food for all Filipinos.
“Establishing the right to adequate food as a human right is what sets this proposed law apart from other food-related measures. It would target achieving zero hunger in 10 years by developing and implementing a national food program that will entitle all Filipinos to a minimum amount of food,” said Nograles.
The proposed measure shall establish a Commission on the Right to Adequate Food to supervise its implementation. Among the responsibilities of the commission would be to harmonize laws, policies and programs to create the National Food Policy that relate to the right to adequate food.