Press Release
February 3, 2012

Legarda: We Are So Rich But Why Are We Hungry?

Senator Loren Legarda today emphasized that the lack of environmental protection programs in the country has posed threats on our very own survival, leaving many Filipinos hungry despite the abundance of natural resources.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said that the recent committee hearing on the agreement to establish the Office of the Worldfish Center in the Philippines revealed that environmental degradation has taken its toll on the country's food stability, noting recent reports that the Philippines now imports galunggong.

"Recently, the SWS released its survey results showing an increase in hunger incidence in the country, and now there are reports that we are already importing galunggong. But 71% of the fish species in the world are found in the Coral Triangle and the Philippines is one of the six countries that forms part of the area. We are so rich, but why are we hungry?" the Senator stated.

The National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) said that galunggong is one of the three major pelagic species captured in the Philippine seas, but due to overfishing and illegal practices such as blast fishing, the supply of galunggong gradually decreased, forcing the government to prohibit fishing activities in the Zamboanga Peninsula effective December last year.

"We are blessed with rich and diverse coastal and marine resources such as coral reefs, mangroves, fisheries and many others. However, continued marine degradation and weak enforcement of our fisheries law will continue to deprive our citizens of their basic needs," Legarda stressed.

"Clearly, environmental protection is not an esoteric concept, it is about food and livelihood. We are now seeing the direct impact of environment degradation and abuse of natural resources to the hunger that many of our citizens have been experiencing for so long. It is immensely disturbing that we have allowed the depletion of our valuable resources at the risk of leaving nothing for the future generations of Filipinos," the Senator concluded.

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