Hontiveros pushes for P1.36 B hike in DSWD budget to feed nearly 2M kids, amid record-high hunger incidence in PH

Senator Risa Hontiveros today pushed for a P1.36 billion increase in the proposed 2021 budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to allow the government to respond to a looming “hunger-crisis” in the country.

Hontiveros explained that the higher funding will help feed at least 1.94 million children, aged three to five years old, who are mostly undernourished and impoverished.

“If we want to prevent an epidemic of malnutrition and stunted growth among young children, we have to empower the DSWD and provide the necessary budgetary increases for our nationwide feeding programs,” Hontiveros said.

The P1.36 billion increase sought by the DSWD will be allocated to the government’s supplemental feeding program next year, a necessary support system for the neediest children.

“Just this August, UNICEF reported that a third of Filipino children in the country experience stunted growth. The country is in fact among the top 10 countries worldwide with the highest number of stunted children. And with the difficult economic situation now, the number of Filipino children who are hungry, malnourished and suffering from stunted physical growth will rise dramatically if government fails to act soon,” she said.

The senator’s appeal also comes as a Social Weather Stations report showed that about 7.6 million Filipino households have experienced “involuntary hunger” in the last three months – the highest hunger incidence recorded in the country since 2014.

“Sa mga darating na buwan, hindi lang COVID-19 ang matinding banta sa kalusugan ng kabataang Pinoy ngayon. Kailangan din natin agarang aksyunan ang malawakang pagkagutom na direktang nakakaapekto sa milyon-milyong tahanan sa buong bansa,” Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros also notes, the present version of the DSWD budget pending before lawmakers does not include the additional P1.36 billion for the supplemental feeding program, leading Hontiveros to call on her colleagues “to help correct this situation and see to it that the government’s feeding programs get the funding they need.”

“Parehas lang ang nailaan na budget ng DSWD para sa supplemental feeding program sa 2021 kumpara sa kasalukuyang taon: P 3.7 billion. Ni piso ay walang itinaas ang pondo natin para matulungan ang mga nagugutom na bata. This is unacceptable, and we should do something about it,” she said.

“Hindi tayo dapat maging kuripot sa kalusugan ng ating kabataan, dahil kinabukasan ng bansa ang nakataya dito,” she concluded.