Claim: There were no starving children during Martial Law because of Nutribun
Last Monday, June 8, Senator Imee Marcos claimed that there were no starving children during Martial Law under the dictatorship of her father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
This happened at an assembly held at Barangay Buhangin, Davao City, where Sen. Imee went on to distribute her own Nutribun with her name on the wrapper and commended the impact of the Nutribun project to the Filipino masses, stating that alongside Nutribun, the Marcos administration also provided Klim Milk.
She said that Filipinos who experienced the advent of the Nutribun remained strong and energetic today due to the nutritional benefits of the bread.
The Facts: Contrary to the fabrications of the Marcos family and their allies, the Nutribun Project was a program spearheaded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) during the height of the Martial Law period.
The team responsible for investigating the conditions of the Filipino population during the 1970s found that the high mortality rate among children aged 1 to 4 indicated the need for a more intensive nutrition program.
An entire 383-page report details the proposal of the USAID Nutrition Office to develop a “ready-to-eat bakery-bun snack food for schoolchildren.”
It was a stop-gap measure to stop hunger in children at that time and not the reason for no hunger in the Philippines, as imagined by Sen. Imee.
Also, the production and distribution of nutribun were mostly in Manila and the children in the countryside were unaware of nutribun.
It has been historically documented that the conditions of the Filipinos progressively worsened under the Marcos regime, the poverty incidence increased to 49%, unemployment rose to 12.6%, and inflation reached a high of 23.2%.
The most notable case of malnutrition and hunger during the Marcos dictatorship was the Negros famine during the 1980s.
The collapse of the global sugar prices left farmers–who were barely receiving minimum wage and already living below the poverty line–millions in debt.
Despite global aid efforts, children in Negros Occidental continued to suffer and starve amidst the famine, even after Marcos’ 21-year term as president.
Why we fact-checked this: Now more than ever, as another Marcos sits in power, we must resist and strongly condemn their disinformation propaganda.
We must remain discerning and critical in the information we consume to combat disinformation and in the process, stand against deliberate affronts to historical truths.