Sen. Grace Poe today said the government must focus on programs to arrest malnutrition and hunger as a way to invest in the nation's human capital, hand-in-hand with the ongoing battle to ensure peace and order.
Poe joined anti-hunger advocates and stakeholders at the Anti-Hunger Summit in Ateneo de Manila in Quezon City to strengthen public-private collaboration in helping provide solutions to the “real problem” of hunger.
"Kung gaano kasigasig ang pamahalaan laban sa droga, hinihiling ko na kasunod nito, gutom naman ang ating wakasan. Kung all-out ang gobyerno sa droga, all-out war sa gutom naman ang isunod natin," Poe said in the event organized by the Gawad Kalinga (GK) and Ateneo de Manila.
Poe said that while she supports the administration in its war against illegal drugs, the government should also "wage a war against hunger," with the Philippines accounting for bulk of malnutrition worldwide.
The lawmaker has filed two nutrition measures—Senate Bill (SB) No. 160 or the Libreng Pananghalian sa Pampublikong Paaralan that provides free school feeding program for all public schools and SB No. 161 or the First 1,000 Days Act seeking to establish a natal care program for expectant mothers and health care and feeding program for toddlers.
"Pangunahing adbokasiya natin ang tugunan ang problema sa gutom sa ating bansa. Naniniwala akong anumang pagsisikap natin na maiangat ang ating bansa ay walang silbi kung nagugutom ang ating mga mamamayan," Poe said.
The senator cited a survey by the Social Weather Stations indicating that 3.1 million Filipino families suffered from hunger during the first quarter of this year, an increase of half a million hungry families recorded in the last quarter of 2015.
Save the Children, meanwhile, reported that childhood stunting—the most prevalent form of undernutrition that has permanent effects on a child’s growth and development—cost the Philippin es P328 billion or almost three percent of its gross domestic product and had affected workforce productivity and education.
President Duterte had asked for an extension to his self-imposed deadline for his war on drugs, saying he will need six more months.
"Dapat walang pulitika pagdating sa pagkain para sa lahat," Poe said.
Poe earlier wrote Duterte to certify as urgent her twin anti-hunger measures to facilitate swift approval by Congress.
Feeding children at an early age is investing in the future of our country, the senator said.
Also participating at the event are Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian, former Ateneo President Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, GK Founder Tony Meloto, GK Executive Director Luis Oquiñena, Teduray Tribe Leader Lydio Dismanos, among others.#