By Ernie Reyes
MANILA – The government must ensure that Filipinos will have food on
the table during the lockdown period to keep them at home and out of
risk of contracting Covid-19, Senator Francis Pangilinan said
“Nakikipagsapalaran ang mga tao at lumalabas ng bahay para magtrabaho
o maghanap ng makakain dahil may mga pamilya silang umaasa sa kanila
(People risk going out of their homes to work or find food because
they have families to feed),” he said.
“Madalas, dahil walang kita pag lockdown wala ring pagkain para sa mga
pamilya. Dito pinaka-kailangan ang gobyerno. (Often, food security
evades many families following income loss due to the lockdown. This
is where government intervention is needed most),” he stressed.
From August 6 to 20, Metro Manila will be placed under the enhanced
community quarantine (ECQ), the strictest quarantine classification,
amid the spike in Covid-19 cases due to the more transmissible Delta
Pangilinan said the promised cash aid and other assistance must reach
the needy families on time to allow them to prepare and stock up on
their requirements for two weeks.
“Maagap at sapat na tulong ang susi para matulungang makaraos ang mga
tao habang nasa loob sila ng kanilang mga tahanan. Para sa maraming
pamilya, mas malaki ang takot nila sa gutom kaysa sa takot sa
coronavirus (Timely and adequate assistance are essential to help the
people get by as they remain in their homes. For many of the families,
the fear of coronavirus will never compare to the more acute daily
threat of hunger,)” he said.
Filipinos are not only enduring a pandemic, but the country’s worst
economic slowdown since 1947. The economy shrank 9.5% in 2020, and
contracted 4.2% in the first quarter this year. Food has become
unaffordable, especially to those who lost their jobs or livelihood.
A recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey revealed that 16.8
percent of Filipino families nationwide, or 4.8 million Filipino
families, experienced hunger due to lack of food at least once in the
previous three months.
Pangilinan said the government should be aiming for food security not
just during the pandemic but for the long haul. He said policies and
laws should be directed toward ensuring that food is available,
accessible, and affordable to all segments of the population with or
without a crisis.
Since becoming a senator, Pangilinan has pushed for legislation that
would strengthen the agriculture sector to enable farmers and
fisherfolk to produce food and products that would sustain the
population and make their industry competitive.
Pangilinan is the principal author of Republic Act 11321 or Sagip Saka
Act, which institutionalizes support for the country’s agricultural
workers to help them make a decent living out of farming or fishing.
The law also allows all government entities to directly purchase
agricultural and fisheries products from local farmers and fisherfolk
enterprises, which Pangilinan said helped ensure the availability of
food supply amid the pandemic.
Pangilinan also authored Republic Act 11524 or the Coconut Farmers and
Industry Trust Fund Act that paved the way for the return of the
billions collected from coconut farmers during the Marcos regime.
He also helped steer the passage of Republic Act 11511 which amended
the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 to make it more beneficial to
organic farmers and consumers.
In the Senate, Pangilinan led in calling for an investigation on the
African swine fever nearly wiped out the local hog industry in
some areas. He also took an active role in public hearings that
discussed rising food prices.
He has also filed bills and resolutions for the preservation of the
environment such as the Single-Use Plastics bill; National Land Use
bill; Solid Waste Importation Ban bill; National Mangrove Forest
Protection and Preservation bill; and inquiry into the flooding in
Cagayan Valley and Isabela. (ai/mtvn)