Philippines: Fast-track legislation to end hunger
Akbayan party-list today reiterated its call for the enactment of urgent reforms to address and stave off incidence of hunger across the country.
"What the Kidapawan incident tells us is the urgency of taking immediate action to ensure the issue of hunger is addressed at its roots," said Akbayan nominee and Mindanaoan activist Tom Villarin.
"The problem is structural -- while the local government has the primary responsibility to respond to disasters and manage agriculture services as a devolved function, there should be concerted efforts to make sure LGUs can perform these functions effectively," said Akbayan Rep. Angie Katoh, also a Mindanaoan and long-time organizer.
"National government agencies need to work together to deliver sufficient and adequate food supplies down to the community level," added Villarin. "Further, national government should build up capacities of LGUs to respond to food shortages."
"A policy framework is needed to provide a point of convergence for national and local governments to do this," added Katoh. "The Right to Adequate Food bill, filed February 2014 would provide this framework."
"House Bill 3795 harmonizes all existing legislation to ensure that an explicit mandate to promote and protect the right to adequate food is realized," added Katoh."It frames food security as a human right and mandates a positive responsibility on government to do everything to make sure quality, sufficient food is made available to all families, especially in isolated and rural regions where rates of hunger incidence are high," explained Villarin.
"We also propose enacting a crop insurance reform bill (HB 2825) that would increase funds available for the Philippine Crop Insurance Corportion to assist farmers during times when their livelihods are struck by natural calamities," added Katoh. while HB 5164 seek to accelerate the government's irrigation program as an indispensable line of defense for farmers against droughts."
All these bills were filed between February and October 2014 and are all pending approval at the committee level.
"While we strive to exact accountability for what happened in Kidapawan, We hope to impress that reforms are possible," said Villarin, "policy solutions are available for us to collectively find solutions to hunger, and all stakeholders -- national government, LGUs, sectors and the general public -- should all work together instead of finger-pointing or using the issue as a platform to gain an electoral edge."