Groups remind Duterte: Address food crisis before first 100 days of presidency ends

Press release - October 5, 2016
Quezon City - Environmental advocates and civil society groups gathered today to remind President Rodrigo Duterte to fulfill the promises he made to farmers and fisherfolk during the elections season and expressed urgency over the lack of an integrated framework to address poverty and hunger in the country, even as the President’s first one hundred days in office has almost ended.

The Green Thumb Coalition–the widest network of environmental groups in the Philippines–reiterated the need for President Duterte to focus his efforts on rehabilitating the food system, which is greatly dependent on the health of the environment.

Virginia Benosa-Llorin, Greenpeace Philippines’ Food and Ecological Agriculture Campaigner, noted that the country’s failing food system has created a double burden of malnutrition, with 20% of Filipino children below 5 years old, underweight and with 31% of Filipinos aged 20 and above suffering from overweight and obesity [1]. 

“The Philippines’ broken food system is failing the Filipinos; our current agriculture and fisheries systems fall short in responding to the country’s food and nutritional needs. We call on the Duterte government to adopt a People’s Food policy – we need a holistic policy framework that links food and agriculture with ecological public health, nutrition and environment security,” said Llorin.

Iza Gonzales, National Coordinator of National Movement for Food Sovereignty (NMFS), welcomes the call of President Duterte for a foreign policy independent from the control of transnational and multi-national corporations, as well as financial institutions, but added that more should be done.

“The Duterte government must break away from all the unequal trade agreements his predecessors entered into. Since he assumed presidency, there hasn’t been any written policy about this; only mere pronouncements,” Gonzales said.

The NMFS also welcomes the administration’s policy on rice and self-sufficiency, but criticizes the importation of basic food commodities, which is pushing our small food producers into further impoverishment.

Gonzales adds, "We were also looking forward to the President's campaign promise for free irrigation services. Yet, until now, we haven't seen any massive irrigation program that will truly help alleviate the poor conditions of farmers."

NGOs for Fisheries Reform (NFR) believes that the programs the government has carried out thus far to help Filipino fisherfolk prove to be inadequate. 

"The current administration still lacks a coherent solution to address the complex problem of fishers such as eco-systems degradation and overfishing,” said Mayette Rodriguez of NFR. "We strongly feel that the current program of dispersing boats to different communities is misplaced as this contributes to further overfishing and will push people to spend more in running after disappearing fish.”

Norie Garcia, Advocacy and Partnership Director of ABSCBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, said that agriculture and food security are primary considerations behind the environmental advocacy of the Green Thumb Coalition. "This is the reason why we support policies that will protect our ecosystems and promote the sustainable use of our natural resources. We also want to reinforce the initiatives of the government to review and audit the extractive industries and other industries with adverse environmental impacts. We are waiting for integrated and coherent policies and programs that will address the root causes and not just the symptoms of food insecurity," Garcia said.

Notes to the Editors:

[1] Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. PH Paradox: Undernourished children, overnourished adults.

For more information, please contact:

Virginia Benosa-Llorin, Food and Ecological Agriculture Campaigner
Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines
+63 917 822 8793 |

Angelica Carballo Pago, Media Campaigner
Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines
+63 949 889 1332 |