Press Release
March 27, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the Arroyo administration has nobody to blame but itself for the worsening hunger incidence, which contradicts its oft-repeated claim that the economy has recovered.

Pimentel said the administration should stop making Congress a scapegoat for the rise in the incidence of hunger to a record-high 19 percent of Filipino households, comprising 3.5 million families, according to the Feb. 24-27 survey of the Social Weather Stations.

He said the hunger problem was aggravated by the governments failure to release funds for the supplemental feeding and day-care centers for malnourished children being supervised by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Education.

Pimentel cited an admission by DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral that these food subsidy programs had been suspended for the last four or five months for lack of fund releases.

He said Congress should not be blamed for the non-release of funds because it approved a P47 billion supplemental budget, which included food subsidy funds, in November, 2006.

Since there was already an approved supplemental budget, Malacañang and the Department should have released the funds for supplemental feeding and day care centers by as early as November or December, 2001, the minority leader said.

Pimentel sought an explanation from the Palace and DBM for the apparent freezing of funds to address the problem of malnutrition and hunger among schoolchildren during the past four months (from November, 2006 to February, 2007) when funds were already available through the supplemental budget that had been approved by Congress.

The minority leader cited statements by Palace and budget officials that funds for food subsidy were released only in the third quarter of March this year. This includes P1 billion to DepEd and P290 million to the DSWD.

Pimentel said the delay in the fund releases for hunger mitigation program has cast doubts on the sincerity and seriousness of the Arroyo administration to solve the problem.

The Palace should stop barking at the wrong tree for the rise in the hunger incidence. There was money available to address the problem. The question is why was the money not released on time? he said.

News Latest News Feed