Drilon warns of looming ‘full-blown’ crisis amid record-high hunger rate
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday warned that the rising number of Filipino families who experienced hunger amid the coronavirus pandemic could spiral into a “full-blown” crisis if the government fails to put proper measures in place.
“I am alarmed by the worsening condition of poor Filipino families affected by the pandemic. They are hungry, most of them women and children,” Drilon said in a statement on Monday.
“This validates our concerns over the lack of ‘ayuda’ in the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021,” Drilon said.
Earlier, Drilon pressed for an increase in the budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in order to capacitate the agency to provide aid to the poor.
Under the proposed national budget for 2021, the DSWD has an allocated budget of P171.2 billion.
The Department of Budget and Management said no funding was provided for the social amelioration program (SAP).
The SAP provides financial assistance amounting to P5,000 to P8,000 to about 18 million poor Filipino families under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
“Natutulog po ang 7.7 milyong pamilyang Pilipino nang walang laman ang sikmura [About 7.7 million Filipino families are going to sleep without food in their stomach]. How can the government stomach the non-inclusion of a [social] amelioration program for 2021?” Drilon said.
“The government must address this immediately before it spirals into a full-blown crisis,” he stressed.
The latest survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that some 7.6 million families experienced hunger in the past three months, the highest hunger incidence since 2014.
“We expect the figure to rise in the absence of adequate financial aid to the poor,” Drilon pointed out.
According to the senator, the government can tap into the P9-billion confidential and intelligence fund of the government, the P16.4-billion anti-insurgency fund and the P468 billion alleged lump-sum appropriations under the proposed 2021 national budget to fund the SAP next year.
Drilon insisted that the SAP should be included in the 2021 budget, citing studies of worsening poverty in the country due to the effects of the pandemic.
Senator Risa Hontiveros also raised concern over the rising number of Filipino families who experienced hunger amid the pandemic.
“This record-high number of families experiencing hunger is a symptom of the deepening economic crisis that we must take seriously,” she said in a separate statement.
“The government must act swiftly against this growing epidemic of hunger and poverty in our nation,” she added.
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