Press Release
October 21, 2008


Liberal President Senator Mar Roxas said the government must stop turning a blind eye to the rising incidence of hunger in the country and other symptoms of the economic slowdown, and face these problems head-on.

"Patunay lang ito na may problema nga tayo, at dapat aminin na ito ng gobyerno (This survey shows that we really have a problem, and the government should admit it)," he said in reaction to the increase in self-rated hunger of those surveyed by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

"Dapat huwag magbibingi-bingihan at bulag-bulagan ang gobyerno. Titindi pa itong problema sa mga darating na buwan. Hindi na puwedeng patuloy na walang aksyon ang gobyerno (The government should not play deaf and blind. The problem will increase in the following months. The government should act now)," Roxas said.

SWS' recent survey shows that 18.4%, or 3.3 million households, experienced hunger at least once in the third quarter. This is 2.1% higher than the second quarter results, and the highest figure since hunger incidence hit 21.5% for the third quarter of 2007.

Roxas said the proposal of presidential economic adviser and Albay Gov. Joey Salceda for a P33-billion realignment of priorities, was "a good start" that Malacañang should heed.

"Maganda ito, pero sa tingin ko ay dapat mas malaki ang realignment.. Ang panukala ko nga ay para may karagdagang P100 bilyon na ilalagay sa pagkain, kalusugan, edukasyon at pagsuporta sa domestic economy (This is good, but I think the amount to be realigned should be larger. I'm proposing that P100 billion be realigned to food security, healthcare, education and support to the domestic economy)," the Ilonggo senator said.

"Ang importante ngayon ay maimplementa itong mga plano natin nang maayos (What's important now is to implement all these plans properly)," he stressed said.

The senator's proposed budget realignments are as follows:

  1. A one-time income tax refund worth P5,000 each for four million fixed-income workers (total P20 billion), which is also part of Roxas' Senate Bill No. 2689;
  2. P20 billion as additional budget for the education sector;
  3. P12 billion funding for the government's health peace corps program, which would provide 45,000 barangays with health care services and benefits;
  4. P10 billion to the DSWD's Conditional Cash Transfer program;
  5. P10 billion in agriculture support;
  6. P15-billion allocation for the Development Bank of the Philippines for providing financial assistance to boost capital and productivity of small enterprises.
  7. P3 billion for OFW support; and
  8. P10 billion on top of the budgets of various agencies implementing the Cheaper Medicines Act that was principally authored by Roxas.
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