A network of groups from various sectors in the Philippines called on the government this week to certify as urgent bills related to the provision of immediate and sufficient financial aid for all, especially those worse hit by the pandemic.
The group calling itself the Ayuda Network cited recent surveys and statistics that show a rise in hunger and poverty incidence rates in the country as well as a steady unemployment rate.
“What other reason does President (Rodrigo) Duterte need before he realizes that the people are in desperate need of aid?” read the group’s statement. “Is he waiting for a sign from the heavens? Or is he waiting for another loan from China or the US?” it added.
The group said the president must certify as urgent bills providing for emergency aid.
The network also urged everyone to sign a petition calling on Duterte to certify aid as urgent amid what they described as “worsening poverty and hunger.”
Pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) this week released the result of a survey that shows about 4.2 million Filipino families experienced hunger in May as the pandemic dragged on and kept Filipinos unemployed.
The survey conducted from April 28 to May 2 among 1,200 adults found that 16.8% of Filipino families experienced “involuntary hunger” or hunger due to lack of food at least once in the past three months.
The sampling error margins are ±3% for national percentages and ±6% for Balance Luzon, Metro Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao.
The May 2021 hunger rate is 0.8 points higher than the 16% (estimated 4 million families) in November 2020.
It is 4.3 points below the 2020 annual average of 21.1% but still double the December 2019 pre-pandemic level of 8.8%, which is equivalent to 2.1 million families.
Hunger is higher by 20.7% in Mindanao, followed by 16.3% in the Visayas, 15.7% in Balance Luzon, and 14.7% in Metro Manila.
Mindanao now has the highest incidence of hunger with 1.2 million families, followed by the Visayas at 776,000 families, Balance Luzon at 1.8 million families, and Metro Manila with 496,000 families.
In November 2020, hunger was at 23.3% (780,000 families) in Metro Manila, 16% (909,000 families) in Mindanao, 14.4% (1.6 million families) in Balance Luzon, and 14.3% (674,000 families) in the Visayas.
Meanwhile, 14.1% or 3.6 million families experienced moderate hunger, while 2.7% or 674,000 families experienced severe hunger.
SWS defined moderate hunger as experiencing hunger “only once” or “a few times” in the last three months. Severe hunger refers to experiencing hunger “often” or “always” in the last three months.