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NFC Convener Aurea G. Miclat-Teves (standing at the middle) and Committee Hearing officers – (sitting from left) Rep. Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte (present sponsor of Zero Hunger Bill), Rep. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla (outgoing Chairperson of the House Committee on Human Rights), House Committee on Human Right Secretary Fely Falcon and House Committee on Human Rights Chairman and the presiding officer of the Committee Hearing Rep. Jesus “Bong” C. Suntay at the First Committee Hearing on Zero Hunger Bill at the House of Representatives on November 19, 2019.

Statement of the National Food Coalition

On the First Congressional Committee Hearing on the Zero Hunger Bill

November 19, 2019

By:

Aurea G. Miclat-Teves

Convenor

National Food Coalition

Good morning everyone.

First of all, I would like to thank the honorable members of the House of Representatives for opening their doors to us, especially the House Committee on Human Rights, Hon. Cheryl Deloso- Montalla, Hon. Jericho Jonas Nograles and committee Chair Hon. Jesus “Bong” Suntay.

We in the National Food Coalition are fully aware and deeply concerned that hunger persists in the country. Despite statistical reports that suggest incremental reduction in hunger, the number of Filipinos who are hungry is still shamefully high.

Gallup International Voice of the People ranked the Philippines as the fifth country in the world with the most number of hungry people, half of whom are women and children. That was in 2014.

In the third quarter of this year, the Social Weather Stations Hunger Survey among Filipino families showed that 10.6 percent of Filipino families have experienced involuntary hunger at least once during the period.  Still that represents 2.4 million families. Multiply that by an average family size of 5 members, that is about 12 million Filipinos, or 9.16 percent of the entire population who went hungry in the third quarter of 2019.

As many of us know, the hunger problem has plagued our countrymen for decades, and everyone recognizes that this is due to widespread poverty across the land. The surveys showing the fluctuating figures for the number of hungry people in the Philippines over the years suggest to us that the root cause of hunger hasn’t been truly addressed.

You will agree with us that this situation should not be allowed to continue. It is contrary to human dignity and a violation of human rights. We, in the National Food Coalition, along with our friends and supporters, believe that even for a developing country like the Philippines, hunger of this magnitude is unacceptable.

We applaud efforts by Congress members to alleviate the life of ordinary Filipinos who do not have the means to uplift their condition on their own. Now, we challenge our representatives to pass the House version of the Zero-Hunger Bill.

We recall that President Rodrigo Duterte made a commitment to fight hunger and poverty. The National Food Coalition, which is comprised of the basic social sectors, believes that the immediate passage of the Zero-Hunger Bill, or House Bill No.0486, is a concrete expression of that commitment.

This proposed legislation provides a legal framework and a set of programs within which zero-hunger may be achieved progressively. The bill also provides an explicit guarantee to the right to adequate food. It encompasses food adequacy, availability, accessibility, cultural acceptability and freedom from adverse substances. More importantly, the proposed law will rationalize all existing policies, laws, decrees, executive and administrative orders, memorandum orders and circulars, as well as ordinances with regard to food in accordance with the right to adequate food.

The bill will also identify a set of processes and procedures on how to eradicate hunger, identifying the necessary line agencies in an integrated approach to implement the Zero Hunger Program.

The bill also enumerates the human rights principles upon which the proposed law is based (namely, participation, accountability, non-discrimination, transparency, human dignity, empowerment and the rule of law).

We would like to thank the last Congress for passing on third and final reading the Zero Hunger bill, under unified bill 7193. However, we encountered difficulty in the senate.

The National Food Coalition and its more than 10,000 members and supporters, composed of 75 federations and organizations all over the country, is optimistic that this time, with your support, we will win this battle for our people and our country to eradicate hunger in our lifetime.

We in the national Food Coalition (NFC) are ready to help the House craft this proposed zero-hunger measure.  Together, we can help address one of the major impacts of impoverishment in our country by the immediate passage of the Zero-Hunger Bill.

As President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had said, and I quote: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

And as Charles Darwin has said, “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature but by our institutions, great is our sin.”

Maraming salamat po!

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