Palace on rising hunger: Government not remiss in helping

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Palace on rising hunger: Government not remiss in helping
In this May 4, 2020, some 3,818 beneficiaries of Social Amelioration Program in Barangay Pasong Tamo in Quezon City lined up early morning for the cash aid distribution.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, File

MANILA, Philippines — The government has not been remiss in assisting sectors affected by the pandemic, Malacañang said Monday, following the release of a poll suggesting that more Filipinos experienced involuntary hunger in the past three months.

A Social Weather Stations (SWS) mobile phone survey conducted from September 17 to 20 indicated that the proportion of families who experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months hit a new record-high of 30.7% or about 7.6 million households.

The hunger trend has been rising since May 2020, according to SWS, which conducted the poll using mobile phone and computer-assisted telephone interviews of 1,249 adult Filipinos nationwide.

READ: SWS: Hunger among Filipino families at highest since 2012

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said quarantine restrictions have disrupted the livelihood of workers. He noted that Metro Manila, which contributes a huge chunk in the country's economic output, has been under general community quarantine (GCQ) for a long time. Only about half of the economy is open under GCQ.

"This news is saddening that's why we are reopening the economy to lower the number of people who experience hunger," Roque said at a press briefing.

"We understand this that's why carpenters, drivers, conductors, those affected by limited transportation, perhaps they are the ones who experienced hunger," he added.

Roque said the government has launched programs to provide livelihood to workers affected by the pandemic. The government, Roque added, has also allowed some modes of public transportation to resume operations to address the concerns of workers who are required to report to their offices.

"We have not been remiss with regard to the obligation of the state to help these sectors," the Palace spokesman said.

Roque said the government is continuously providing aid in areas that were placed under localized lockdowns. The labor department is also implementing a cash-for-work program for disadvantaged workers while the finance department is offering salary subsidies to small businesses, he added.

"Of course, we have the 2021 budget worth P4.5 trillion. The budget will fund items that will create jobs and reduce hunger incidence," Roque said.

Roque, however, admitted that the available modes of public transportation won't be enough unless the one-meter physical distancing requirement is relaxed. He said only 30% of mass transportation capacity would be available because of the requirement.

"Even if we allow buses and jeepney units to operate, because of one-meter distancing, we cannot provide enough transportation for everyone even if we intend to reopen the economy," Roque added.

The government's pandemic task force had approved the easing of the distancing requirement in public transport but President Duterte overturned it due to concerns that it may lead to a spike in infections.

Roque reminded workers to wear face masks, wash hands frequently, and observe physical distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with