Sectors slam NSCB’s P172/day poverty index

WHILE certain international organizations celebrate today, October 16, as World Food Day, the toiling masses all over the world — without the exception of our own impoverished workers and peasants here in the Philippines — experience grave hunger,” said Fernando Hicap, Anakpawis vice-chairperson.

World Food Day commemorates the establishment of the Food and Agriculture Organization in 1945. In third world countries, nagging issues of government corruption, plunder of natural resources, and bogus land reform remain, causing widespread poverty and hunger among the population.

More Filipinos are experiencing hunger today, according to a recent study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The IFPRI’s 2012 Global Hunger Index shows that the country’s hunger incidence ranking slipped from 27th in 2011 to 31st this year. The Philippines is now second only to Cambodia with the highest hunger incidence in Southeast Asia.

“Ordinary folk bear the brunt of the economic crisis plaguing third world countries. Until problems as fundamental as land reform remain unsolved, October 16 – and most everyday – will be World Hunger Day for majority of our people, especially our farmers and other toiling masses,” said Hicap.

The group also criticized the Aquino government’s new poverty index, which aims to mitigate hunger and poverty through mere statistical hocus-pocus. According to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), a family of 5 needs only P172 a day for food expenses so as not to be classified as “poor.” According to Hicap, this new poverty index is nothing but “nakaka-insulto.”

“Lowering the standards only means that the Aquino government does nothing to actually solve the problem of hunger and poverty. Aquino is more concerned about boosting his image through empty statistics and harbouring illusions of progress, than facing reality. It has been banking on public deception, especially with programs that supposedly address fundamental problems such as genuine land reform and unemployment.”

“Today, the Aquino administration’s CARPER is the longest-running and most expensive failure of a land reform program. Our farmers must not suffer another day hoping for a better life under the framework of this deceptive haciendero scheme. Instead of granting just wages, the government makes workers suffer more under a two-tiered wage system,” said Hicap.

Anakpawis Partylist has been pushing for the passage of its twin bills HB 374 and HB 375 in Congress to effectively address the woes of our farmers and workers. House Bill 374 seeks to implement genuine agrarian reform replacing haciendero-backed reform programs in the past, while HB 375 pushes for P125 across-the –board wage increase for workers.

Farmers from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas are holding a three-day camp-out at the Department of Agrarian Reform to protest World Hunger Day.

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