Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque
MANILA – The national government is reopening the economy to alleviate hunger among Filipinos affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19)-related lockdowns, Malacañang said Monday.
This, after a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, conducted from Sept. 17 to 20, showed a hunger incidence of 30.7 percent, the highest rate since the previous record of 23.8 percent in March 2012.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace is saddened by the survey result, but noted that reopening the economy would slowly alleviate hunger among Filipinos.
“Nakakalungkot itong balitang ito. Kaya nga po tayo nagbubukas ng ating ekonomiya para mapababa yung mga numero lalong-lalo na ng nagugutom (This report is saddening. That’s why we are opening the economy to reduce the number of hungry Filipinos),” Roque said in a virtual Palace briefing.
Roque acknowledged that poor Filipinos are most affected by the lockdowns, noting that even if restrictions have been eased, transportation modes remain limited.
He explained that under the general community quarantine (GCQ), only 50 percent of the economy is allowed to operate while this increased to 75 percent under the modified GCQ.
However, he said the national government has not neglected its obligation to provide necessary assistance to sectors most affected by the pandemic.
Roque said the government has started boosting public transportation while ensuring minimum health and safety standards are observed.
He said the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act” or Bayanihan 2 and the proposed PHP 4.5-trillion national budget also finances cash-for-work programs for displaced workers and provides emergency subsidies to low-income households in areas under granular lockdown.
Roque appealed to the public to stay healthy and follow quarantine protocols so they can return to work despite the threat of the pandemic.
“Ang pakiusap natin, puwede naman ho magtrabaho habang nandiyan ang Covid-19 (Our appeal to the public is, we can work while the threat of Covid-19 exists),” he said.
According to Roque, hunger alleviation would also depend on the public’s capacity to take care of their health.
“Nakadepende po talaga ‘yan sa kung pangangalagaan natin ang ating kalusugan para makapag hanapbuhay ho tayo (It really depends on whether we would take care of our health so that we can work),” said.
As of Monday, the Philippines logged 307,288 confirmed cases of Covid-19, of which 252,665 are recoveries with 5,381 deaths. (PNA)