Philippine Catholic student campaign focuses on food security

Nutrition and food seen as underrepresented issues in 2016 election
Philippine Catholic student campaign focuses on food security

Students of St. Louis University in the Philippines join calls to include food security as a priority in the 2016 national elections. (Photo courtesy of Greenpeace)

Students of a Catholic university in the northern Philippine city of Baguio joined calls to elevate food, nutrition, and agriculture as key issues in the country's national elections next year.

This week, hundreds of students from St. Louis University started using the hashtag #IAmHampasLupa in social media accounts to highlight food security as a key issue to be tackled by politicians running for election in 2016.

"We seldom associate the food we eat with the farmers who do the backbreaking work," said Virginia Benosa-Llorin, food and ecological agriculture campaigner for Greenpeace in the Philippines. The environmental advocacy group started the campaign to challenge young voters to pledge to transform the country's food and agriculture sectors.

Data from Greenpeace show that the Philippines suffers from a double burden of malnutrition, with one in every five Filipino children under five years of age underweight, and one in every three Filipino adults aged 20 and older overweight or obese.

Benosa-Llorin blamed undernutrition on "unequal access and distribution of food" while she said overnutrition is prevalent "because of increasing physical inactivity and poor diets."

"This is re-enforced by our agriculture's focus on rice, irrigation, and specific food commodities," said Benosa-Llorin. Data from the Agriculture department show that at least 40 percent of the Philippine government's budget for agriculture goes to rice and irrigation programs.

"We need a comprehensive, holistic, responsive food policy that addresses today's challenges of climate change, nutrition security, disaster response and environmental protection," she said.

The election season officially started in the Philippines on Oct. 12 with candidates filing their certificates of candidacy for the 2016 vote. 

The Catholic bishops' conference earlier urged candidates to think of the poor, not of the "perks and grandeur" they could acquire should they win in the elections.

"The candidates must be willing to sacrifice their personal interests for the sake of those who have nothing in life," said Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the public affairs commission of the bishops' conference.

Sign up to receive UCAN Daily Full Bulletin
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
© Copyright 2019, All rights reserved
© Copyright 2019, Union of Catholic Asian News Limited. All rights reserved
Expect for any fair dealing permitted under the Hong Kong Copyright Ordinance.
No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means without prior permission.