..MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Tuesday hailed the drop in the number of Filipino families experiencing hunger in the country based on the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda expressed optimism that the hunger trend would further go down with the implementation of the administration's anti-poverty projects.
"It is through the programs on inclusive growth, education, public health and anti-corruption that inroads on reducing poverty and hunger are being achieved. We are confident these programs will have a lasting effect," Lacierda said.
Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte said the latest numbers on hunger incidence tend to be "a little volatile" in the short-term.
"We're hoping that given a little more time, government interventions will be able to keep the numbers down," Valte said.
The hunger rate fell to 18.4 percent or equivalent to 3.8 million families based on the SWS survey conducted last May, compared to the 23.8 percent or estimated 4.8 million households recorded last March.
The nationwide survey, first published on BusinessWorld yesterday, used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 respondents last May 24-27.
The lower hunger rate was reportedly due to the improvements in both moderate and severe hunger, according to the pollster.
The survey question on overall hunger was, "Nitong nakaraang tatlong buwan, nangyari po ba kahit minsan na ang inyong pamilya ay nakaranas ng gutom at wala kayong makain? Oo o Hindi (In the last three months, did it happen even once that your family experienced hunger and not have anything to eat? Yes or No)."
SWS found that 18.4 percent of the respondents, equivalent to 3.8 million families, claimed they experienced nothing to eat at least once in the last three months.
This figure is 5.4 percentage points lower than the 23.8 percent, equivalent to 4.8 million households, recorded in March, 2012.
It also noted that the decline in overall hunger was due to improvements in the level of moderate and severe hunger among Filipino families.
By geographical area, overall hunger declined in the rest of Luzon from 28 percent (2.5 million families) to 14.3 percent (1.3 million families) and in Metro Manila from 24.3 percent (691,000 families) to 16 percent (454,000 families).
However, it increased in the Visayas from 10.3 percent (399,500 families) to 17.3 percent (670,000 families) and in Mindanao from 26.7 percent (1.3 million families) to 28.3 percent (1.4 million families).
Those who experienced hunger were further asked, "Nangyari po ba 'yan ng minsan lamang, mga ilang beses, madalas, o palagi? (Did it happen only, a few times, often, or always?)"
The survey noted that severe hunger among families, or those who experience it "often" or "always" in the last three months was lower by 1 percentage point from 5.8 percent (1.2 million families) to 4.8 percent (974,000 families).
Meanwhile, moderate hunger, or those who experienced hunger "only once" or "a few times" in the last three months, declined to 13.7 percent (2.8 million families) from 18 percent (3.7 million families) in March.
SWS pointed out that the latest hunger rates were consistent with the poverty and food poverty results it released last week.
Poverty and food poverty among Filipinos were at 51 percent (from 55 percent last March) and 39 percent (45 percent previously), respectively.
Hunger was at 26 percent among the self-rated poor, while 10.7 percent said they were not poor or were on the borderline.
In comparison, hunger was at 32.4 percent among the self-rated poor and 13.5 percent among the not poor/on the borderline in March. -with a report from Ellalyn B. De Vera