Hunger in the Philippines

By Thesa Sambas

baboyebimbiFood is not a problem in the Philippines. Anywhere you go, you are sure to find a food store or a restaurant from where you can grab a bite to eat if ever hunger strikes you. The Philippines is amply supplied with food and foodstuff through local production and through imports. The thing is, not everyone has the money to buy food that is sufficient enough for one’s needs.

Hunger is a reality in the Philippines. Around half of the total population lives below the poverty line, and approximately 70% of these poor people are located in the provinces. According to the statistics made available by the Philippines’ National Statistical Coordination Board, a Filipino family comprised of five members needs around Php. 8,254 (US$191.95) every month in order to live decently. This is according to the prevailing living standards in 2006. Unfortunately, most of these families living below the poverty line are made up of more than five members and are earning less than Php. 8,254 monthly. As thus, the power to purchase food that will adequately provide the members of a family in the poverty line with the nutrition that they need is sorely challenged.

Children are the ones most marginalized by this situation, and it all starts in the womb. A pregnant woman who is not getting enough of the nutrients that her body needs naturally gives birth to a baby with a weakened body. As the child grows older, the lack of nutrition available in his or her diet further affects the growth and development of his or her body.

Malnutrition is one of the greatest problems when it comes to children of poor families in the Philippines. It is reported that 4 million preschool children (aged 5 and below) are underweight and stunted. That number represents 32% of the population of children in the country. Of the specific challenges that needed to be faced when it comes to malnutrition, protein energy malnutrition is the biggest, followed closely by iron and iodine deficiencies as well as Vitamin A deficiencies. Hunger and malnutrition leads to vulnerability to disease, especially in children.

There is enough food in the Philippines. Local production and imports have seen to it that the country is amply supplied with food, and it can be readily purchased anywhere you go in the country. Unfortunately, not all people can buy the food that they need. Hunger is a reality in the Philippines.

Thesa is an experienced writer and publicist. She has 12 years experience in writing well-researched articles of various topics, SEO web content, marketing and sales content, press releases, sales scripts, academic essays, E-books and news bits.

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by Fr. Angel Calvo, Zamboanga City

Philippines Kidnapped ForeignersI would like to borrow the words of Milet Mendoza, another survivor of the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan, to denounce and cry the death of another hostage in our land… And we still have more than 18 hostages in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf in our land….” No one ever deserves to die this way. The long wait, the suffering and desperation that all captives go through, to be told each day about your execution the following day if ransom were not to be paid; to be deceived and deprived of freedom – all these are dehumanizing acts that have to be condemned by all. Not because it happens too frequently that people in Basilan, Sulu, and the rest of the country have become numb and indifferent to it – for as long as it does not happen to them. KFR has not even merited the discussion of people running for public office – national or local.
So many lives have been lost, including soldiers and police forces – but where is the enemy? They are not only in Sulu or Basilan – they are everywhere outside of these hostage prison walls. The big bucks is big business “small and big” people” benefit from.
This beheading is anti-Filipino. It is shameful. This is the work of EVIL people, people of NO faith. The people of Sulu, Basilan and Tawi tawi and the rest of those in the influence of power, national and local, should be ashamed that this decades’ old kidnapping and killing is worsening. One way or the other, they are all condoning it.
My heart breaks for the family of John Ridsdel. Prayers of consolation for you and the Canadian people.”

Killing canadian hostage

GOVERNOR Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) strongly condemned the killing of Canadian John Ridsdel by the Abu Sayyaf bandits on Monday, April 25. The Abu Sayyaf bandits beheaded Ridsdel on Monday after their ransom demand was not met. The bandits have reportedly demanded ransom for P300 million for the release of the victim. The decapitated head of the victim was recovered late Monday in the village of Walled City, Jolo, Sulu.

Read: Canadian man killed by Abu Sayyafs

Hataman described the killing of Ridsdel by the Abu Sayyaf bandits as an act against humanity. “As a nation, we have to rise against this horrendous act of terrorism. Our faith and our humanity demand that we collectively and strongly condemn this act of terrorism,” Hataman said He said the incident is tragic and “as peace-loving Muslims of Mindanao, as Filipinos tired of senseless deaths and violence, we stand against this.” “With heavy hearts, we express our condolences to the family of Mr. John Ridsdel. Our thoughts are with you in this dark moment of sorrow and grief,” he said. “Like you, we also hope that the reign of terror on the island provinces of Mindanao will face its end the soonest as we pray that justice is done,” he added.

Ridsdel, who is from Calgary, Alberta, was kidnapped along with three others, a fellow Canadian, a Norwegian and a Filipina, on September 21, 2015 at a resort in the Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte.

SunStar Zamboanga

Dry spell in Arakan

ARAKAN, North Cotabato (MindaNews/07 April) — The town mayor here has denied reports insinuating the local government has been remiss in its duty to extend rice assistance to farmers severely affected by the long dry spell.

Mayor Rene Rubino of Arakan also denied he had prior knowledge that some of his constituents had moved to Kidapawan City on March 31 to join the farmers’ protest that turned bloody. “I have documents to prove this,” he said. Asked whether politics got in the way, Rubino said: “There could be politics behind and there could be none. No one can say, its election season.” The mayor added his office has extended cash assistance and a sack of rice to the family of Darwin Sulang, one of the fatalities in the April 1 bloody dispersal of farmer protesters in Kidapawan.

He appealed to his townmates who were still at Spottswood compound of the United Methodist Church in Kidapawan to return home because “rice assistance is ready for distribution”. He said the Philippine National Red Cross personnel will distribute the rice assistance since the Commission on Elections prohibits government employees, elected officials and their relatives from distributing aid to farmers affected by El Nino phenomenon. It was learned that next week the provincial government of North Cotabato will start distributing rice assistance to farmers in 17 municipalities and in Kidapawan.

Sourced from the calamity fund, 10,000 sacks of rice will be delivered every week for 12 weeks as the long drought is expected to cause more damage to the province’s agriculture sector.

Last week, over 4,000 farmers from Arakan, Antipas, President Roxas, Magpet and other towns massed in Kidapawan and blocked a portion of the Cotabato-Davao highway to demand rice assistance from the provincial government. On April 1, police broke up the barricade resulting in a melee that left two farmers dead and several others injured. Some policemen were also hurt. Progressive groups and even presidential candidates condemned the police action while the Senate has opened an investigation of the incident. Cotabato Gov. Lala Talino-Mendoza had refused to extend rice assistance to the farmers before the bloody dispersal. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)

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Photo provided by Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Public Information Office, Western Mindanao Command,

Venerdì 7 aprile, Rolando Del Torchio è stato liberato, dopo sei mesi di prigionia. Lasciato libero al porto di Jolo alle 7:30 del pomeriggio ore locali e poi, sembra, fatto salire sulla motonave MV KC Beatrice diretta a Zamboanga dove è stato trovato dalla polizia locale e trasportato a Zamboanga con una nave speciale.  Ha passato la sua prima notte da libero ricoverato all’ospedale militare di Zamboanga Camp Navarro General Hospital (Westmincom) per controlli sanitari. La prima richiesta una sigaretta! Era stato rapito il 7 ottobre 2015 da un gruppo di uomini armati mentre si trovava nel suo ristorante  a Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte, Mindanao e poi, probabilmente, trasferito in alcune isole più a sud nell’arcipelago delle Sulu.  La liberazione avviene in coincidenza con il compleanno della mamma,  9 aprile (n.d.r. p.Giancarlo Bossi fu liberato il giorno del compleanno di sua mamma).  Oggi stesso , sabato 9, è arrivato a Manila con un aereo privato assieme al AKG (Anti Kidnapping Group) del governo filippino. Non è ancora chiaro come sia avvenuta la liberazione e se è stato pagato un riscatto.


Violence for rice

Fr.Peter Geremia speaks to the group of protesters outside the Spotswood Methodist Center shortly they were before allowed to enter the compound on Tuesday. KEITH BACONGCO

Fr.Peter Geremia parla con il gruppo di contadini appena fuori del Spotswood Methodist Center (foto Keith Bacongco)

A Philippine Church leader has warned against “ideological groups manipulating hungry farmers” following the violent dispersal of protesters who barricaded a major highway in Mindanao on April 1.

“We should not use [farmers and tribal people] to advance any ideology,” said Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, in an interview on April 6.
At least three protesters were reported killed, 116 wounded, and 89 reported missing when police dispersed some 6,000 farmers and tribal people who were seeking government help to get them through an ongoing region-wide drought.
Cardinal Quevedo also reminded church people “not to use [the church’s] influence and resources” to favor the “political interest” of any group.
“The church has no ideology. It is faith above any ideology,” the prelate told
“We should serve the poor in the church way and not in any ideological way,” said Cardinal Quevedo, adding that the “church’s way of serving the poor is through the way of the Gospel.”
“We fight for the social teachings of the church,” he said. “Fighting for justice has to be based in the social teachings of the church.”

Father Peter Geremia of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, told that contrary to reports, the local Catholic Church was not behind the protest action.”I wasn’t behind the protests, and I wasn’t even aware of the purpose of the rally,” said the priest, who has been serving in the area for decades. In 1992, Geremia was arrested after being accused of supporting a raid staged by farmers and tribal people in his parish who were demanding the release of food aid to villagers affected by drought.

The 76-year old Italian missionary said he advised protest leaders last week to allow vehicles to pass because traders and commuters were already complaining.
“I also told them that they have already drawn so much attention,” he said. The priest said the protesters ignored his appeal.
Tension in Kidapawan City eased on April 6 after church leaders convinced the government to remove police and soldiers who surrounded a Methodist church compound where some 3,000 of the protesters sought refuge after the April 1 dispersal.
“After the withdrawal of troops, the protesters also agreed to confine themselves inside the compound and keep the national highway open,” said Father Carlito Garcia, administrator of Kidapawan Diocese.
The priest said “the church will perform its duty to the people,” adding that the “diocese doesn’t want to be associated” with either the protesters or the government.
“The diocese is not taking sides but will serve the people in a non-political way,” said Father Garcia.
Cardinal Quevedo emphasized that “all help that the church can provide to ease the suffering of the victims of drought shall be brought directly to the poor and not through ideological groups.”