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Reps. Bello, Bag-ao, Belmonte, Gutierrez file ambitious bill seeking to end hunger

Posted On 2014 Feb 06
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Children hold plates on top of their heads against rainfall as they queue for free meals during Christmas celebrations at the town of Bislig, Tanauan in Leyte province, central Philippines December 24, 2013, a month after Typhoon Haiyan battered central Philippines. Super typhoon Haiyan reduced almost everything in its path to rubble when it swept ashore in the central Philippines on November 8, killing at least 6,069 people, leaving 1,779 missing and 4 million either homeless or with damaged homes. (MNS photo)

Children hold plates on top of their heads against rainfall as they queue for free meals during Christmas celebrations at the town of Bislig, Tanauan in Leyte province, central Philippines December 24, 2013, a month after Typhoon Haiyan battered central Philippines. Super typhoon Haiyan reduced almost everything in its path to rubble when it swept ashore in the central Philippines on November 8, killing at least 6,069 people, leaving 1,779 missing and 4 million either homeless or with damaged homes. (MNS photo)

MANILA  (Mabuhay) – Can hunger be completely eradicated in the Philippines?

Four lawmakers think so, especially if more land is allocated to producing more food.

On Monday, Representatives Ibarra Gutierrez, Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao, Jose Christopher Belmonte and Walden Bello filed the Right to Adequate Food Framework bill which seeks to make the provision of sufficient food for all Filipinos a government priority.

Under the bill, government will be required to increase the land devoted to food production by 50 percent of all prime agriculture land in every region.  A Commission on the Right to Adequate Food will also be created as an agency attached to the Philippine Commission on Human Rights to assess the impact and efficiency of the government’s programs against hunger.

The lawmakers said the comprehensive bill aims to harmonize the provisions of all laws related to Filipinos’ right to adequate food. The proposal also seeks to clarify the scope and content of the right, and establish standards for the government to meet the target of totally phasing out the incidence of hunger in the Philippines.

“[The Constitution] make[s] it a State policy, and gives the State the corresponding obligation, to guarantee the fulfillment of the peoples’ right to adequate food,” the lawmakers said in the bill’s explanatory note.

Should House Bill 3795 be passed, the government will be required to reduce the level of hunger incidence by 25 percent – from its current level – when the law takes effect. The incidence of hunger should be brought down by another 25 percent in the fifth and seventh years until it is completely eradicated in the 10th year.

In an interview with reporters, Gutierrez said eradicating hunger is possible if the government allocates sufficient resources to ensure the stability of food production all over the country.

“Ang pangangailangan sa pagkain ay dapat tingnan na isang batayang karapatan at hindi afterthought at market-driven na konsepto. Kung kinakailangan na ang gobyerno ay mag-allocate ng mas maraming resources o mag-realign ng programa para ma-meet ang goal na [walang magu-gutom na Pilipino], then so be it. This is the principle behind our bill,” he said.

Among the acts considered as a deliberate attempt to deny any individual access to food are the imposition of a food blockade, refusal to implement a food-related program and obstructing access to food in time of calamity or war.

The penalty of prision mayor will be imposed on any individual or group found guilty of committing these acts.  (MNS)

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