Hunger alleviation is one of top priorities of new DSWD chief Gatchalian

Hunger alleviation is one of top priorities of new DSWD chief Gatchalian

MANILA, Philippines — The newly sworn-in Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Rex Gatchalian said that one of his plans is to fight hunger, seeing it as one of the most immediate, solvable problems in the country.

In a press briefing on Friday, Gatchalian, only three days since beginning his term, said that while fighting poverty is the end goal, fighting hunger is more feasible in a shorter amount of time.

“Labanan natin ang kagutuman. Alam ko mandato natin, labanan ang kahirapan, at gagawin at gagawin natin iyon. Pero alam naman natin na ang kahirapan at ang pagsugpo sa kahirapan is a long term endeavour. Hindi natin yan kaya gawin sa isang gabi, sa dalawang gabi, minsan nga, intergenerational ang kahirapan, pero palagay ko, mas kaya natin gawin, labanan ang kagutuman,” said Gatchalian.

(Let us fight hunger. I know our mandate is to fight poverty, and we will keep doing that. But we know that poverty and fighting poverty is a long term endeavor. We cannot end it one or two nights, sometimes, it is even intergenerational but I think, what we can likely do, is to fight hunger.)

Gatchalian said that he is planning to meet with data collection agencies such as the Social Weather Stations (SWS) to understand how the agency defines hunger in its research. He also wants to use SWS’ quarterly data as a success indicator for the department.

“Hunger is different for each and everybody,” said Gatchaliaan.

According to the new DSWD chief, the agency’s programs could be reviewed should the data remain unchanged.

The last SWS survey about hunger was released in January, revealing that three million families experienced involuntary hunger in the last quarter of 2022.

READ: 3M families faced hunger last year, SWS poll shows

One of his ideas to tackle hunger includes the use of food stamps. However, Gatchalian said that he could not provide concrete details just yet but said that he plans to bring in the private sector to make it possible.

Gatchalian was sworn in as the new DSWD chief on Tuesday, after the post was left to former officer-in-charge Edu Punay. Punay filled in for former social welfare secretary Erwin Tulfo after the latter’s post was not confirmed by the Commission on Appointments following issues about his citizenship, as well as a libel conviction.


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