De Lima files bill to address hunger, protect people’s right to adequate food


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima filed a measure seeking to provide for a framework to address and eliminate hunger systematically, and to protect the right of the people to adequate food.

De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, filed Proposed Senate Bill (SB) No. 2458, setting a target of  achieving zero incidence of hunger within a 10-year period.

“This bill seeks to address the grave incidences of hunger and food insecurity in the country, consistent with the principles of the 1987 Constitution, specifically the right to life and human dignity, and the enshrined policy of an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development,” she said.

“This measure also breathes life and crafts a local framework to the… international treaties providing for the right to adequate food of which the Philippines is a state party,” she added.

In 2019, close to 750 million – or nearly one in ten people in the world – were reportedly exposed to severe levels of food insecurity.

In a Nutrition Assessment Survey conducted from Nov. 3 to Dec. 3, 2020, the Department of Science and Technology found that of the 5,717 households surveyed composed of 7,240 individuals, 62.1% or six out of 10 reported they experienced moderate to severe food insecurity.

The survey also noted that food insecurity was highest between April and May 2020, or when the country was placed under enhanced community quarantine.

In filing the measure, De Lima stressed that every person has the right to live in conditions that shall enable him or her to acquire food directly from natural resources, financially acquire a sufficient quantity and quality of food, and be safe from the risk of losing access to food, as a consequence of sudden shocks like an economic crisis.

The lady Senator from Bicol added that every person has the right to the opportunity for good food utilization through access to adequate diet, clean water, sanitation and health care, and access to food or diet that is the most appropriate under given circumstances.

“Adequate food is not a matter of charity, but a basic human right and a prerequisite for total well-being,” she said.

Under SB No. 2458, De Lima proposed the creation of a Commission on the Right to Adequate Food, which shall be attached to the Office of the President.

“The Commission shall be the primary policy-making and coordinating body to guarantee full exercise of the right to adequate food. It shall formulate a national food policy consistent with the policy formulated by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Zero Hunger,” she said.

De Lima said the IATF on Zero Hunger shall effectively be replaced by the Commission which is mandated to “implement programs of action to eradicate hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” (30)

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