Hunger due to virus, lockdowns: Palace

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    MALACANANG yesterday explained that more people were experiencing involuntary hunger due to the work stoppage caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and community lockdowns, adding this is the reason why government has been pushing for the continued opening of the economy and increasing the bigger capacity operations of businesses.

    “Unang-una, nakakalungkot itong balitang ito at kaya nga po tayo nagbubukas ng ekonomiya para mapababa iyong mga numero lalung-lalo na ng mga nagugutom (First of all, this is sad news which is why we have re-opened the economy to reduce the numbers especially of those who are hungry),” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said yesterday.

    The September 17 to 20 mobile survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that some 7.6 million families or about 30.7 percent of Filipinos experienced involuntary hunger in the last three months, the highest since March 2012.

    Roque said the government, through the Departments of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD), Labor and Employment (DOLE), and Trade and Industry (DTI), have lined up programs and given loans to qualified individuals while the Bayanihan to Recover as One (Bayanihan 2) Act and the proposed P4.5 trillion budget for 2021 include funds that can be tapped to assist those affected by the pandemic.

    Roque said the resumption of work is allowed provided the minimum health protocols are observed.

    He said under the general community quarantine (GCQ), only 50 percent of the economy is allowed to operate while up to 75 percent of the capacity of businesses is allowed to operate under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

    He said the reduced operations, and suspension of some operations of some establishments, is among the reasons why some people like carpenters, drivers, and bus conductors, among others, experienced hunger.

    Roque also reiterated the importance of following health protocols when returning to work.