2 kids die in Zamboanga due to food poverty; NAPC alarmed

By: Julie Alipala - Philippine Daily Inquirer | August 05,2023 - 12:24 PM


FEEDING TIME. A child eats rice porridge and adobo at a feeding session held in Baseco, Tondo, Manila. According to Unicef, malnutrition is partly driven by the increasing availability of processed food, especially for poor families. —INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

ZAMBOANGA CITY — An official of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) has expressed alarm over the recent deaths of children in a rural village here due to food poverty.

Juliet Tigo, NAPC regional coordinator for the Zamboanga Peninsula region, was reacting to reports of the deaths of two children in Barangay Maasin—some 13 kilometers from the city center—on Aug. 1.

The children were ages 1 and 2, and, along with a 7-year-old sibling, were left in the care of their 80-year-old grandmother after they were abandoned by their parents, authorities said.

Police Maj. Paul Andrew Cortes, spokesperson of the Zamboanga City Police Office, told the Inquirer that the family had been struggling with hunger and during lunch on Tuesday, the children were fed with cooked leaves of elephant foot yam, a tuber locally known as “bagong.”

No decent meal
The toddlers died in the afternoon that day. But health authorities were yet to determine if the yam leaves caused the deaths of the children who were buried that same day in keeping with Islamic tradition.

However, the situation in the children’s home was “an indication that we have more households really struggling to have a decent meal on the table and we also observed that many impoverished families don’t have access to basic services including food,” Tigo said in an interview.

The incident followed the death of a starving Subanon kid in Barangay Patalon, also of this city, last July from eating expired canned meat, which he and his siblings gathered from a dumpsite.

Tigo pointed out that food poverty incidents happen here even as the city is tagged as one of the 10 richest cities in the country.

In 2021, the Commission on Audit said Zamboanga City had total assets of P19.775 billion.

“If the city’s assets will be put to good use, a number of households will have better access to basic health and welfare services,” Tigo said.


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TAGS: food poor, kids die, malnutrition, poverty, Zamboanga City

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