Committed to achieving zero hunger for Filipinos by 2028, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday led the kick-off activity of the Food Stamp Program (FSP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Tondo, Manila.
Apart from vowing to improve the quality of life of the Filipino people living in poverty, Mr. Marcos also said he hopes the country would one day end the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the government’s conditional cash transfer program.
Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian also clarified the pilot testing of the program will last until March 2024.
The pilot is funded with $3 million (approximately P163 million) in grants from the Asian Development Bank and the World Food Program.
Gatchalian pointed out that the program is not a dole-out but a development program that aims to invest in human capital.
Aside from digital stamps with P3,000 worth of food credits, the FSP will also provide nutrition development classes and training programs to reskill the beneficiaries.
The DSWD said it is in talks with the country’s economic managers for the program’s funding allocation, which has an initial allotment of P2.1 billion.
The government’s “Walang Gutom (No Hunger) 2027” program requires an annual budget of P40 billion to provide the targeted beneficiaries with P3,000 worth of food stamps per month.
In his speech during the program, President Marcos said poverty alleviation is the ultimate goal of the administration by the end of 2028, and to ensure that everyone enjoys a good, healthy, and productive life.
“We have always tried to rise up from the throes of poverty but the problem of hunger and malnutrition still remains. And that’s why it has become a priority of this government that we will fight all the poverty,” the President said.
“We will put in all the programs so that one day we can say that we are able to give our people, at the very least, the food that they need to survive, the nutrition that they need to survive,” Mr. Marcos said.
“That is the dream of this administration. That is what we are hoping to achieve in this administration, that by the end of 2028, we can say that we have done everything to reduce the hunger and poverty in our country, and to be able to be sure that we can provide a good, healthy, and productive life for our people,” he added.
The President said his administration will not only ensure an abundant food supply but will also ensure the nutritional value of the food that will be provided on the table of every Filipino family especially to the children and nursing mothers through the FSP.
He emphasized that the program will not be made possible without the help of foreign funding institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Food Programme, and other partners around the world as he thanked the swift response of DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian for the program.
The Chief Executive also noted the relevance of the FSP as he recalled the learnings of the Philippines and the Filipino people when the country was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic when everyone experienced difficulties in terms of the prices of basic commodities and in terms of the supply of agricultural commodities.
The DSWD pilot tested the FSP on 50 food-poor families, including pregnant women and lactating moms in Tondo, Manila and households with children two years old or younger.
The FSP, or the “Walang Gutom 2027”, aims to provide electronic benefit transfers that will be loaded with food credits amounting to P3,000 to purchase a select list of food commodities from DSWD-accredited local retailers.
The program is also intended to target the bottom one million households from “Listahanan 3” who belong to the food poor criteria as defined by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
To be chosen for the program, DSWD Assistant Secretary Romel Lopez said Filipinos must be among the one million families considered “food poor” – those lowest than the “poorest of the poor” since they cannot even have three meals a day.
They also include Filipinos who have a combined household income of up to P8,000, Lopez added.
President Marcos said the DSWD will go around the country to demonstrate how to use the food stamps and how to avail of the benefits that come through it.
“So again, let us thank our partners in this very important program. Of course, the DSWD has been the lead agency. The ADB has been — it was actually a part of the discussion when I went to visit ADB and it was proposed by the Asian Development Bank that we have a food stamp program,” President Marcos said.
“And of course, having listened to this rather good idea, Secretary Rex and I immediately jumped upon the opportunity and said, let’s not let this lapse; let’s not let them forget that this is something that we would like to do, and that finds us here today,” he added.
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