A lady senator has lamented that hunger grips at least 9.3 million Filipino families and leaves 7.36 million children below the age of five ravaged by malnutrition.
In a privilege speech recently, Sen. Grace Poe called for a comprehensive re-engineering of the government’s actions to address hunger and malnutrition in the country, citing urgently needed efforts to solve the menace in a sustained and coordinated approach.
“Millions of Filipinos go to bed, go to work, or go to school hungry,” Poe said, emphasizing the plight of Filipino children, “Tinimbang ang ating mga bata, at marami sa kanila ay kulang.”
“Hunger, like war, punishes children most,” Poe said, “Children bear the scars of hunger and poverty–and some of the wounds never heal. The long-term impact on our human capital is fatal.
We cannot build the foundation of our future on emaciated bodies,” she said even as she stressed that the government must expand support to fill the poor Filipinos’ empty stomach.
Poe said that Congress will be debating the P2.6 trillion national budget for 2015 and it needs to be fortified with more funds to combat malnutrition directly.
Next school year, the government through the Department of Eucation is expected to feed the country’s severely wasted children for an initial 120 school days with a P1.3-billion budget, while the DSWD, with P3.3 billion, is set to implement a supplementary feeding program for two million children in daycare.The senator outlined measures to address the challenge of hunger and malnutrition, including the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 79 which seeks to standardize a free lunch program for public school children; SB 2089 to promote corporate farming; SB 1282 to encourage
Filipinos to venture into agriculture by giving incentives; and the National Land Use bill.
She also stressed the need to fund protection for vulnerable pregnant women. “Malnutrition begins at the womb. Kung gutom ang nanay habang buntis, hindi nabubuo ng mabuti ang utak ng isang sanggol. No amount of postbirth intervention will reverse the situation,” Poe said.#