THE “silent killers” of hunger and malnutrition, which kills 95 Filipino children every day, must be stopped alongside managing the Covid pandemic, Senator Francis Pangilinan said Saturday, World Children’s Day.
“Ayon sa Unicef, 95 na batang Pilipino ang namamatay araw-araw dahil sa malnutrisyon. Mas marami pa kaysa sa 74 na Pilipinong na namamatay sa Covid19 araw-araw,” Pangilinan said.
“Ang kabataan ang kinabukasan ng bayan. Binubusog dapat ang kinabukasan. Kung mahina ang kabataan, mahina ang kinabukasan (The youth is our country’s future. We should feed our future. If the young are weak, the future is weak),” he added.
The former food security secretary said he calls malnutrition a “silent killer” because it is not as visible as murder. Unfortunately, he said, malnutrition and hunger will also kill Philippine development and economy if we don’t address it.
“Sa gitna ng pandemya, mas dumami ang nagutom. Meron kaming nakausap na bata na nung nawalan ng trabaho yung single mom niyang nanay, tubig na lang ang pampuno nila ng tiyan (In the middle of the pandemic, more went hungry. A girl we talked to said that when her single-mom mother lost her job, they went to bed with only water to fill their tummy),” he recalled.
Pangilinan advocates food security for the country, as he laments the Philippines’ increasing dependence on imported food.
“Para may kasiguruhan ang pagkain ng bayan at ng mga anak ng bayan, kailangan nating umasa sa sarili nating kakayanan, sa kakayanan ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda. Pampuno lang ang imported na pagkain, hindi ito pinaka source ng pagkain natin sa Pilipinas (To ensure the country’s and our children’s food, we need to rely on our own ability, on the ability of our farmers and fisherfolk. Imported food should only be to fill gaps, not be the main source of our food in the Philippines),” he said.
“Kailangan nating mag-invest nang malaki para sa pagkaing tama at sapat para sa lahat ng Pilipino (We should invest heavily in providing proper and enough food for all Filipinos),” he added.
Pangilinan said that in Vice President Leni Robredo’s Covid response plan that includes freedom from sickness, hunger, and lack of education, the budget for agriculture will double in six years to secure our food.
“Paano natin susugpuin ang gutom? Pauunlarin natin ang pagsasaka at pangingisda hanggang masaganang-masagana ang ani at huli. Alam naman natin sa law of supply and demand, na pag marami ang supply, mumura ang presyo. At pag mura ang presyo, mas marami ang makakain, mas marami ang hindi magugutom, mas marami ang lulusog (How will we end hunger? We will develop agriculture and fisheries until our harvest and catch are plentiful. In the law of supply and demand, more supply means lower prices. Lower prices means more will be able to afford food, more will not go hungry, more will become healthy),” Pangilinan said.