DAVAO CITY – An anti-poverty commission has laid down the need for a participatory study in the shift from the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ ) to the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) in a bid to mitigate extreme poverty as well as jumpstart an ailing economy brought by these restrictive measures.
Secretary Noel K. Felongco of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) in a digital press conference, cited a Social Weather Station (SWS) special COVID-19 Virtual Survey where it reported that 16.7% or an estimated 4.2 million Filipino families have experienced involuntary hunger in May 2020.This nearly doubled the 8.8% or around 2.1 million families in December 2019, and the highest under President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.
In Visayas, the hunger rate rose from 9.3% or about 436,000 families in December 2019 to 14.6% or estimated 685,000 families in May 2020 and in Mindanao it increased from 12.7% or around 709,000 families in December 2019 to 24.2% or about 1.4 Million families in the same period.
In Metro Manila the hunger rate also spiked from 9.3% around 307,000 families in December 2019 to 20.8% or about 693,000 families in May 2020. Then, in Luzon it increased from 6.3% or around 688,000 families in December 2019 to 12.6% or about 1.4 Million families in the same period.
These alarming numbers indicate that the COVID-19 crisis has dragged more Filipinos into involuntary hunger, thus the need to mitigate hunger especially in areas with high number of cases.
As an initial response to the COVID-19 crisis, NAPC has issued several internal communications to streamline the agency’s Monitoring and Evaluation activities taken on the government programs for the most affected areas that were placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine.
NAPC is also promoting its BalikProbinsya, BagongPag-asa Program, aimed to decongest Metro Manila and promote healthy regional development to better prepare the country in responding to emergencies such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. Its salient features are: Integrate poverty alleviation framework, representation of the 14 basic sectors in policy-making bodies, revisit Industrialization Plan, repeal anti-workers/farmers/fisherfolk laws, identify the target population and need, national development with the local development plans. Strengthening localized programs/projects, consider policy proposals per key area in the ‘Balik Probinsya,’ Set-up monitoring mechanism, Provide incentive to LGUs who will be accepting returnees.
The agency is also campaigning to set up individual and shared vegetable farms for poor communities in coordination with the Department of Agriculture in distributing vegetable seeds as part of our campaign to develop backyard gardening for food sustainability.
In order to monitor the implementation of quarantine policies and food distribution, NAPC is continuing to mobilize its vast grassroots network of volunteers through our Kasambayanihan program.
“With the COVID-19 crisis we are currently facing, we might not be able to surpass these numbers for this year but I am optimistic that our agency will strive harder to carry out our mandates and thrusts by venturing adaptive measures to the new normal context and continually mobilizing our networks of volunteers at the grassroots,” Secretary Felongco said. (By Giovanni Flaviano)