MANILA – The government can only achieve “zero hunger” in the country by 2030 if it is able to address the needs of homeless families, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said on Wednesday.
Panelo made the remarks as he admitted that it is “heartbreaking” to see homeless people struggling to survive.
“Kailangan ho talaga walang makita sa kalsada (We should really need to attend to the needs of homeless families). For as long as they are there, eh wala, hindi ho talaga tayo successful sa ating pamamahala (we will not be successful in running the government), whether it’s local or national,” he said in his commentary program “Counterpoint.”
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Zero Hunger (IATF-ZH), said on Monday that the task force’s goal this year is to bring back the hunger incidence to the pre-pandemic level, which was 8.8 percent.
This, after Nograles noted that the hunger rate doubled to 16 percent when the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) grappled the country.
The survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations from Nov. 21 to 25 last year found that an estimated 7.6 million families experienced hunger during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Panelo said homeless people should be prioritized as the government scaled up its drive to achieve its “zero hunger” goal.
“Kasi doon niyo ho makikita, ‘pag meron pa talagang pulubi sa kalsada, ibig sabihin hindi pa tayo tumutugon sa pangangailangan ng mga taong ganito. Ito ‘yung unang dapat nating pangalagaan (If there are still homeless, that means we fail to attend to their needs. We need to prioritize them),” he said.
On Jan. 10, 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order 101, creating the IATF-ZH that formulates the government’s anti-hunger policies and ensures that government policies, initiatives, and projects on attaining zero hunger shall be coordinated, responsive, and effective.
Nograles said the IATF-ZH formed technical working groups to ensure coordination of government programs on hunger.
The IATF-ZH launched the National Food Policy (NFP) to highlight its virtual first anniversary.
The NFP aims to end hunger, achieve food security, improve food accessibility and availability, and promote nutrition and food resiliency.
The NFP also seeks to meet Sustainable Development Goal 2, or zero hunger by 2030.
On Monday, Duterte lauded the IATF-ZH for its hard work and dedication to address hunger and poverty amid the Covid-19 pandemic. (PNA)