Acting presidential spokesperson and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar (File photo)

MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday assured the public that the government is looking for ways to fight hunger in the country.

The assurance came after the Social Weather Stations (SWS) reported a higher hunger incidence in the country in the first quarter of 2022

According to the SWS' April 19 to 27 survey, around 12.2 percent or an estimated 3.1 million Filipino families experienced "involuntary" hunger from January to April 2022 due to lack of food.

The number of Filipino households who experienced hunger in the past three months of 2022 was 0.4 percentage points higher than the 11.8 percent or estimated 3 million families recorded in December 2021.

Sought for reaction, acting presidential spokesperson and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the government is exhausting all efforts to address hunger problem in the country.

"Patuloy nating tinutugunan ang issue ng kagutuman (We continue to address the hunger issue)," Andanar said in an online press conference.

The SWS interviewed 1,440 adult Filipinos, using sampling error margins of ±2.6 percentage points for national percentages and ±5.2 percentage points for Balance Luzon, Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

The highest hunger incidence, SWS said, was registered in Metro Manila, with 18.6 percent or estimated 636,000 families in the country's metropolis having no food to eat. The figure, however, was down by 4.2 percentage points from 22.8 percent or estimated 770,000 families logged in December 2021.

Following Metro Manila were Mindanao (13.1 percent or an estimated 761,000 families from 12.2 percent or estimated 703,000 families) and Balance Luzon (11.7 percent or estimated 1.3 million families from 9.2 percent or estimated 1 million families).

The lowest hunger rate was recorded in the Visayas, which is at 7.8 percent or estimated 373,000 families, lower by 1.9 percentage points from 9.7 percent or estimated 462,000 families.

Despite this, Andanar said then latest hunger incidence in the Philippines is still lower compared to the 16 percent or an estimated 4 million families who experienced involuntary hunger in the last quarter of 2020.

He added that the Duterte administration has created the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Zero Hunger to help Filipinos who are experiencing hunger.

The IATF on Zero Hunger, created by virtue of Executive Order 101 inked by President Rodrigo Duterte in January 2020, is tasked to ensure that government policies, initiatives, and projects on attaining zero hunger will be “coordinated, responsive, and effective.”

The task force’s initiatives include the creation of the Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty; pilot feeding programs under the First 1000 Days of Life; launching of Pilipinas Kontra Gutom; formulation of the Philippine Multi-sectoral Nutrition Project Proposal for the World Bank; Gulayan sa Barangay at sa Pamayanan programs; and various livelihood projects aimed at uplifting the lives of farmers and fisherfolk. (PNA)