Press Release
January 25, 2010


Moved by the report of a mother jumping into the Pasig river with her two small children, Sen. Loren Legarda yesterday blamed increasing hunger and poverty for the increasing cases of suicides and parricides involving parents and children in the Philippines.

"Hunger and intolerable hardships drove these women to such acts of desperation that are contrary to their natural instincts to care for their children in the hope of saving their children from suffering more pain and hunger," said Loren.

"That is why," she said, "the next administration should exert utmost efforts to eliminate if not reduce poverty and hunger, and end this desperation that is afflicting many of our families and parents. That should be our priority."

Loren deplored that in the last quarter of 2009 the number of families experiencing hunger had increased to a new record high of 24 percent of the entire population or 4.4 million households as found by a survey of the Social Weather Stations.

The survey also found that 46% (an estimated 8.5 million) families considered themselves as poor and 39% (estimated 7.1 million) considered themselves as "food poor" (chronically hungry or undernourished). Loren was reacting to the news item that a 40-year-old woman threw herself with her two young daughters, aged 5 and 8, respectively, off the Del Pan bridge in Manila last week. The mother was rescued by a scavenger, while the five-year-old daughter was later found drown, and her sister missing.

When questioned by police, the mother, Mimi Velarde Abila, said, "Hindi ko na kaya ang mga problema namin sa buhay at ang problema sa bansa. Sobrang hirap na natin (I could no longer bear the problems of our family and that of the country. We are so poor)."

"I know that she is so hard up because we have no money, but I never thought she could do such a thing," her husband, Alex, 51, told police. This is not the first time that this happened, Loren lamented. She recalled that only last September, a 34-year-old woman killed her four children, including a nine-month-old baby, by drowning them in a river in sitio Manganese, Barangay Cambayobo, Calatrava, Negros Occidental. Afterwards, she tried to drown herself in the same river.

Police said the woman, who was rescued by neighbors, suffered from depression due to poverty. They said the woman must have lapsed into temporary insanity because she "talked nonsense".

"The woman must have been driven to desperation or temporary insanity because of hunger and was driven to commit the act so contrary to human nature because she could not bear to see her children continuing to suffer from hunger and poverty." Loren said.

She added that there have been many more incidents reported throughout the country because of the deterioration of the economy in the past many years. She deplored that women and children are the most vulnerable to the effects of poverty.

"That is why it should be our mission and top priority to eliminate, if not reduce, hunger and push back poverty drastically," said Loren, the vice presidential candidate of the Nationalist People's Coalition and the Nacionalista Party. "It is intolerable that a country such as ours which is rich natural resources should have so much hunger among the people."

Loren advocated the adoption of a "crash program" to produce more food by improving agriculture, supported by more activities in the industrial sector, and improving the environment. "This should be the top priority of the next administration," she emphasized.

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