Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian has urged the government to reevaluate the current anti-poverty measures as involuntary hunger rose for the first time this year while half of Filipino families saw themselves as poor.
Latest results of a Social Weather Station (SWS) survey from Sept. 2-5 showed 15.7 percent of respondents or 3.5 million families experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the previous three months, the first time in 2015 that involuntary hunger worsened. This showed a marked increase of 12.7 percent or 2.8 million families from the June SWS survey.
Notable is the increase in hunger in Mindanao, which rose sharply to 21.7 percent (20 percent for moderate hunger and 1.7 percent severe hunger) in September from 14.3 percent both in June and in March. Hunger in “Balance Luzon” also climbed up to 14.7 percent or 1.4 million families from 10.7 percent or 1.1 million families.
“The numbers make it clear that millions of Filipinos are going hungry and struggling under the immense weight of poverty. There is a need to critically reevaluate existing strategies to reduce poverty and other forms of socioeconomic deprivation,” said Gatchalian, a senior vice chair of the House Committees on Metro Manila Development and on Housing and Urban Development.
Gatchalian explained that while the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) is a long-term solution, there have to be efforts by government to address poverty in the short-term and the medium-term.
“Millions of Filipinos cannot wait an entire generation for long-term poverty alleviation programs such as the conditional cash transfer program to bear fruit or for economic growth to trickle down on them. Our fellow Filipinos need relief – not in 30 years, not in 20 years – they need relief now,” Gatchalian pointed out.
Gatchalian, a three-term Valenzuela City mayor and now its 1st district representative, is pushing for progressive reforms in education, the economy, and governance as he runs for senator under Partido Galing at Puso, whose presidential and vice-presidential bets are Senators Grace Poe and Francis “Chiz” Escudero.
The Valenzuela City lawmaker believes that under a Grace Poe presidency, no Filipino will be left behind. “Every Filipino will be afforded the opportunities necessary to partake of the economic gains.”
Gatchalian also questioned the Aquino administration’s commitment to inclusive growth as another recent SWS survey showed that 50 percent or around 11 million Filipinos rated themselves as poor.
The NPC senatorial bet said this as results of the said survey displayed very marginal movement from the June survey, which in turn showed that 51 percent or around 11.2 million families saw themselves as poor.
“Self-rated poverty very slowly moved from 53 percent in Q1-Q2 of 2012 all the while that the Philippines was hailed by the World Bank as Asia’s ‘rising tiger’ with a GDP growth at 7.2 percent in 2013 and 6.1 percent last year. But who felt this growth?” asked Gatchalian, a senior vice chair of the House committees on Metro Manila development and on housing and urban development.
The same SWS survey also saw an increase in self-rated poverty in Visayas by eight points to 66 percent. It stayed at 70 percent in Mindanao. The survey also showed that 35 percent of respondents, or an estimated 7.8 million families, consider the food they eat as “food-poor,” a minimal slip from around the previous 8.1 million.
“Was the wealth created by the economic growth distributed, especially to the poorest of the poor? If yes, then why do millions of families still see themselves as poor and food-poor?” asked Gatchalian.