Sen. Imee Marcos, older sister of president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., claimed that no child went hungry during the 20-year regime of her late father, Ferdinand Marcos Sr., because of Nutribun.
Marcos’ statement is false.
During a thanksgiving event for residents of Brgy. Buhangin, Davao City, on June 5, the senator said:
“Walang nagugutom na bata noon kay Nutribun ang sagana. Hindi mo pa maubos. At saka kakainin mo, andyan parang semento sa tiyan; may kasama pang tagaktak ng Klim (na) gatas. Ang mga lolas and mommies talagang fully charged hanggang ngayon dahil powered by Nutribun.”
(No child went hungry then because there was an abundance of Nutribun. You can’t even finish it. And when you eat it, it’s like cement in your tummy; there’s also a bit of Klim milk. The grandmothers and mommies are still fully charged up to now because they’re powered by Nutribun.)
Source: Edna Gatchalian Encena personal Facebook account, IMEE MARCOS IS IN BUHANGIN DAVAO CITY (video), June 6, 2022, watch from 8:18 to 8:49
The Department of Health’s 1976 Operation Timbang found that 5.8% of Filipino children suffered from protein-energy malnutrition six years after Nutribun was first distributed. Protein-energy malnutrition means children did not receive enough of this essential nutrient and lacked the energy needed for them to sustain physiological functions.
Nutribun is a type of bread developed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and distributed in the 1970s until 1997 to combat child malnutrition in the Philippines and serve as emergency food during disasters.
According to the World Food Program USA, basic hunger is a form of malnutrition. It adds that malnutrition encompasses various diet-related deficiencies such as undernutrition, a condition in which the body does not receive the minimum number of calories needed to perform basic life functions such as breathing and blood circulation.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, in its 2018 report, “Seven Decades of Upholding the Rights of Filipino Children,” described a famine in Negros Occidental from 1984 to 1986 during which 140,000 children suffered from second- and third-degree malnutrition.
A 1979 study by the United Nations (UN) University and the International Rice Research Institute pointed to “uneven food distribution” as the cause of malnutrition in the Philippines. It cited the 1974 Philippine Household Food Consumption Survey, which found that only 25% of households in Luzon were taking in enough energy, while 31% had sufficient protein in their diet.
USAID tapped the Marcos administration to help bake and distribute Nutribuns to beneficiaries identified by the government. Nancy Damman, former USAID media advisor, said in her 2003 memoir, that Nutribun packs were “stamped with the slogan ‘Courtesy of Imelda Marcos –Tulungan project.’”
The Nutribun has lately been a subject of disinformation on social media. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Nutribun NOT a Marcos project)
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Edna Gatchalian Encena personal Facebook account, IMEE MARCOS IS IN BUHANGIN DAVAO CITY (video), June 6, 2022
Judith Jalop Saludes personal Facebook account, With senator imee marcos @ brgy buhangin gym (video), June 5, 2022
Asec tv YouTube channel, Sen.Imee Marcos full speech at Davao City, Buhangin gym, intruduce by brgy capt. Gamad now, June 5, 2022
Inquirer.net, The muddled past of Nutribun, May 17, 2022
Philstar Life, Is Nutribun the brainchild of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.?, May 17, 2022
Rappler, Nutribun: Remember me?, Oct. 4, 2014
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF: Seven decades of upholding the rights of Filipino children, 2018
United Nations University and the International Rice Research Institute, Interfaces Between Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Science, 1977
Nancy Damman, My 17 Years with USAID: The Good and the Bad, 2003
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Nutrition and Related Services Provided to the Republic of the Philippines, September 1979
World Food Program USA, What Causes Child Hunger and Malnutrition?, Aug. 11, 2021
(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)