Church launches ‘zero hunger bill’ petition

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MANILA, May 20, 2015— A petition has been launched to show the Church’s scale of support to a measure which seeks to end hunger in the Philippines in ten years.

Caritas Philippines has tapped the help of all the dioceses in gathering signatures in their respective parishes to push for the passage of the Zero Hunger Bill.

Newly-elected Caritas Internationalis President Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle delivers a message during the “Caritas Day” at Milan Expo 2015 in Italy on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. (Photo: Caritas Philippines)

Archbishop Rolando Tirona, chair of Caritas Philippines, said they are also coordinating with other civic-minded groups for the passage of House Bill 3795 or the Right to Adequate Food Framework Act of 2014.

Urgent bill

“Let this be part of our efforts and commitment to work in solidarity with the poor. Let it be our concrete expression of our mercy and compassion as we celebrate the Year of the Poor,” Tirona said in a letter to the dioceses.

By gathering signatures, the Church’s social action arm urged President Benigno Aquino III to certify the bill “as urgent” to expedite its passage.

“The early passage of the bill could save many of our brothers and sisters from hunger and death, which is the number one cause of mortality,’ he said.

The proposed measure aims to establish the right to food as a government priority that will entail a comprehensive program to address hunger.

“The right to food is a basic right that must be upheld and fulfilled by the duty holder our government,” Tirona added.

No hunger by 2025

According to the National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa), the passage of the bill is the agency’s commitment to the Caritas Internationalis’ campaign on “One human family, food for all”.

In a mission to ensure everyone has enough food, the campaign aims to end hunger by 2025.

An independent survey by the Catholic humanitarian aid stressed that helping farmers is among the keys to end hunger, especially as they try to adapt to climate change.

The survey was unveiled yesterday by Caritas’ outgoing president Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga and his successor, Cardinal Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, at the Expo World’s Fair 2015 in Milan, Italy.

The study highlighted that the lack of resources, low agricultural productivity, and the impact of climate change are among the causes of food insecurity.

Agrarian reform

Fr. Edu Gariguez, Nassa executive secretary, said they share the global concern for hunger as occasioned by food insecurity.

And in the Philippine context, he said there is a need to analyze the cause of the problem, “which is clearly the lack of resources, particularly access to land of small farmers”.

“This is the reason why the Church in the Philippines is strongly pushing for the implementation of agrarian reform,” Gariguez said.

He said strengthening poor people’s land rights can set in motion a wide range of social and economic benefits, including poverty reduction.

Gariguez, however, lamented how the government failed to implement “this social reform agenda”.

“For this reason, poverty will not be addressed without genuine land reform program, complemented by support services, access to loans and markets, and productive investments of our government for rural development of small farmers,” he said. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)

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