Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said government was encouraged by data showing a 4.2% year-on-year decrease in the number of families that have experienced involuntary hunger, stressing on Sunday that the Duterte Administration has viewed positive numbers like these “as a sign that its policies are meeting their desired objectives.”

The Social Weather Stations (SWS) recently released a survey conducted from September 27 to 30, 2019 that found out that 9.1% or an estimated 2.3 million families had experienced involuntary hunger in the past three months.

“Keeping the prices of food staples like rice is crucial in efforts to address hunger.”

As defined by SWS, “involuntary hunger” points to “hunger experienced by the family due to lack of food to eat.” 

The new figures, said Nograles, are lower than September 2018 SWS data that revealed that involuntary hunger was experienced by 13.3% or an estimated 3.3 million families.

“That is one million fewer families suffering from hunger, a number that we want to further improve with programs like the Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (EPAHP)––an initiative we are convinced will help the Philippines eventually say #GoodbyeGutom,” said the Palace official.

EPAHP’s objective is to help mitigate hunger, ensure food and nutrition security, and reduce poverty in urban and rural communities, including marginalized communities.

Nograles credited the Duterte economic team led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III for “spearheading the economic reforms and initiatives that contributed to these positive developments.”

“When inflation hit 6.7% in September 2018, the economic team said that inflation would drop with the enactment of reforms like the rice tarrification law, and they were right,” said Nograles.

Inflation in September 2019 was at 0.9%, the slowest it has been in three years.

“Cheaper food allows families to put more food on the table.”

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), contributing to the downtrend in the inflation during the month of September was the 0.9% annual rate of decrease in the index of the heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages.

The PSA noted that there were annual decreases in the indices of rice at 8.9%; corn, 4.1%; vegetables, 4.7%; and sugar, jam, honey, chocolate and confectionery, 4.1%. Moreover, annual mark-ups were slower in the following food groups: other cereals, flour, cereal preparation, bread, pasta and other bakery products, 3.0%; meat, 2.4%; fish, 1.4%; oils and fats, 1.2%; and food products, not elsewhere classified, 6.3%.

Nograles stressed that keeping the prices of food staples like rice “is crucial in efforts to address hunger.”

“Cheaper food allows families to put more food on the table. We believe that a combination of these economic reforms and proactive hunger-reduction programs like our school-feeding initiatives will do much to ensure that fewer of our countrymen have to suffer from hunger.” 

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