On October 16, the Commission on Human Rights joins the international community and local stakeholders in commemorating the World Food Day. This year’s theme, Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world, was chosen to highlight the role of cooperatives in improving food security and contributing to the eradication of hunger. Truly, the contribution of the local agricultural sector in sustaining the food requirements of a predominantly agricultural country cannot be emphasized enough.
The eradication of poverty and hunger is the paramount worldwide objective under the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which the Philippines as a UN member-State agreed to achieve by 2015. The Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights has called all States to “take steps to achieve progressively the full realization of the right to adequate food. xxx Every State is obliged to ensure for everyone under its jurisdiction access to the minimum essential food which is sufficient, nutritionally adequate and safe, to ensure their freedom from hunger.”
The CHR is one with the Committee in the belief that adopting a national strategy is a necessary step to enjoy the right to adequate food. It is about time to have a framework that is consultative and participative to guide and consolidate legislation, planning and implementation to address the problem of hunger from all fronts.
We also call the government’s attention to challenges that remain and affect our people’s right to adequate food. While we laud recent positive developments in the implementation of agrarian reform that will bolster food accessibility to the poor, the program should be implemented more aggressively in order to realize its potential in giving food accessibility to the poor. Threats and actual physical harm inflicted on members of indigenous peoples (IPs), farmer communities and peasants for their work to protect their sources of food and livelihood from unreasonable commercial intrusions also continue to be an impediment to the enjoyment of the right. Rising food prices is also a pressing problem. Adverse weather conditions in the country and even abroad are severely affecting food production and distribution chains. Impact is immediate on poor households, who are now forced to settle for fewer and less nutritious meals each day. It is thus no wonder that about 4.3 million families experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the 3 rd quarter of 2012.
With these challenges in mind, the CHR urges the government to step up efforts, and other stakeholders to participate, in formulating a wholistic approach to address these problems and ultimately fight hunger and to concretely uphold the right of Filipinos to adequate food. Let us all be mindful of the important contribution that a well-nourished nation can make in achieving national development and peace.
LORETTA ANN P. ROSALES
UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), General Comment No. 12: The Right to Adequate Food (Art. 11 of the Covenant), 12 May 1999, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4538838c11.html [accessed 15 October 2012]
Malinao, Alito N. “Philippines, other nations to suffer from global rise in food prices.” The Manila Times.net 12 October 2012. <http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/opinion/columnist1/29625-philippines-other-nations-to-suffer-from-global-rise-in-food-prices>