ENSURING FOOD SECURITY IN THE BARMM:

Key Challenge of the COVID-19 Crisis for the

Bangsamoro Parliament


Mr. Robert Maulana Marohombsar Alonto
Former MILF Peace Negotiator
Member, Bangsamoro Transition Commission


INTRODUCTION

The outbreak of the novel corona virus disease (COVID-19) has taken the world by storm exhausting the healthcare systems of affected countries and rendering them paralyzed due to the overwhelming problems caused by the pandemic. Various economic experts have already projected that this would plunge the global economy into recession. In a report published by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), it is estimated that the global economy could suffer between $5.8 trillion and $8.8 trillion in losses – equivalent to 6.4% to 9.7% of global domestic product (GDP) because of the pandemic[1]. Furthermore, it is also forecasted by the Food Security Information Network (FSIN) that the pandemic will devastate livelihoods and food security especially in fragile context and those people working in informal agricultural and non-agricultural sectors. They further concluded that a global recession would have a significant impact on food supply chains[2].

In the case of the Philippines, areas with confirmed cases were either quarantined or placed in a lockdown. As a result, schools were closed, various businesses were temporarily suspended, travel restrictions and other social distancing measures were put in place. Despite the National Government issuing various guidelines and directives, ultimately, the LGUs were given enough leeway to respond to the needs of their constituents. Government spending doubled as both National Government and LGUs provided for cash aid and relief goods to their people.

To briefly put it, the following were the problems identified during the period of lockdown and/or quarantine:

  • While there was an adequate supply of food, travel restrictions curtailed suppliers from transporting their products thereby causing food shortages and food wastage in certain areas;
  • There was a tendency by certain food-producing provinces and/or regions to lock down their borders, prevent their food traders from selling their produce to other areas outside of their boundaries, thus, disadvantaging those other provinces that are dependent on them for basic food supply. A case in point is when the Provincial Government of Bukidnon, a food-producing province, issued Executive Order 18 in March 2020 prohibiting Bukidnon’s rice traders from selling their produce outside Bukidnon. This was, however, rescinded immediately due to the complains of other provinces. There is no assurance, though, that this will not happen again if the pandemic worsens and food shortages ensue.
  • There was an increase in the unemployment rate due to the suspension of work and businesses;
  • Increased dependency of people on government support and donation; and
  • Most of the LGUs have already exhausted their budget in such a short time, thereby forcing the National Government to loosen restrictions in an attempt to somehow resuscitate the economy despite the fact that there is no ‘flattening of the curve’ with respect to the pandemic.

Given that there is still no definite cure or vaccine against the virus, various experts have projected that the pandemic may remain beyond 2020 and the dire economic impact will be felt more in the succeeding years.


 

[1] “COVID-19 Economic Impact Could Reach $8.8 Trillion Globally — New ADB Report,” Asian Development Bank, accessed June 4, 2020, https://www.adb.org/news/covid-19-economic-impact-could-reach-8-8-trillion-globally-new-adb-report.

[2] 2020 Global Report on Food Crises: Joint Analysis for Better Decisions, Food Security Information Network, p. 3.


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Access Bangsamoro is an online and social media portal that promotes the free flow of information, analysis, and discussions for the effective implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and the successful transition to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Access Bangsamoro is a project of the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) through the Ateneo Policy Center, in partnership with the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) under the Enhancing Political Dialogue for Inclusive Peace in the Bangsamoro (ENPOLD Bangsamoro). The project is made possible with the funding assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Government of Australia.


Mr. Robert Maulana Marohombsar Alonto was a member of the peace panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that negotiated the Framework Agreement of the Bangsamoro and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. He was also a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission that drafted the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Access Bangsamoro, its proponents, or affiliates.