Daniel Auminto lost his job and then his home when the coronavirus pandemic sent the Philippines in the lock. Now he and his family live on the streets, relying on food distribution to survive.
Charities are struggling to meet the ever-growing demand for food as millions of families go hungry across the country, AFP reports.
Covid-19 restrictions have crippled the economy and thrown many unemployed.
“I’ve never seen hunger at this level before,” said Jomar Fleras, executive director of Rise Against Hunger in the Philippines, which works with more than 40 partners to feed the poor.
“If you go there, everyone will tell you that they are more afraid of starving than dying from Covid. They don’t care about Covid anymore.
The number of hungry people hit an all-time high during the pandemic, according to pollster Social Weather Stations.
Almost a third of families – or 7.6 million households – did not have enough food to eat at least once in the previous three months, according to its September survey.
Among them, 2.2 million families were experiencing “severe hunger” – the highest on record.
The numbers have been rising since May, two months after the country entered a severe lockdown – reversing a downward trend since 2012.
Virus restrictions have been relaxed in recent months to allow more businesses to operate as the government seeks to revive the devastated economy, which is expected to shrink 9.5% this year.
For the country’s legions of poor people, the pandemic is just one more challenge in their lives – and not even the most serious.
Auminto, 41, has spent years sleeping on the streets and making as much money as possible by selling waste for recycling. His fortunes changed in 2019 when he found a stable job as a house painter.
This gave him enough money to rent a room in Manila, which he shared with his wife and their two-year-old daughter, buy food, and even save a little for their dream of opening a small store.