Profiteer crackdowns and loosening lockdowns among food security priorities

Profiteer crackdowns and loosening lockdowns among food security priorities

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According to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, about half of the Filipino population experiences hunger and food insecurity – a situation which has been exacerbated over the past year by COVID-19 lockdowns and economic difficulties.

“It’s the state’s obligation to ensure all Filipinos have sufficient food, [thus] we need a new [food security] strategy in place as COVID-19 has completely changed our daily lives,”​ Roque said in a formal press statement.

“To this end, the president is currently studying the proposal made to place the entire Philippines under the Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) from March 1 to address rises in hunger [from] food insecurity and poverty.”

MGCQ is the most relaxed form of lockdown in the Philippines where physical workplace presence is allowed for non-high-risk employees, all public places can operate at 50% capacity, and public transport can also operate at as high capacity as social distancing controls allow.

If approved, this would mainly mean changes for the country’s major urban cities and areas like Manila and Davao – which are also localities contributing the most COVID-19 case numbers.

“The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has conducted a study which found prolonged lockdowns [will cause] 23.7 million more people to go hungry, 4.5 million more to fall into poverty,”​ said Roque.

Apart from loosening lockdowns to revive the economy, Duterte has also issued orders for food product profiteers, whether these be cartels or individuals, to be arrested and punished.

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