Focus on poverty reduction, not drugs—lawmaker

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Photo by Karl Ben L. Arlegui

SEN. GRACE Poe took a swipe at the government for prioritizing an anti-drug campaign instead of addressing the issue of malnutrition.

“Puwede extrajudicial feeding na lang gawin natin? Gutom ang dapat patayin at hindi ang nagugutom,” Poe said in her keynote address during a forum on malnutrition at the Green Sun Hotel in Makati City.

The legislator called on the government to invest in agriculture as it is linked to the issues of poverty and hunger. “Poverty, hunger and malnutrition are intertwined. It is ironic that people who provide us with food are those that are most hungry,” she said, referring to poverty in the agriculture sector.

Poe, who ran for the presidency in the previous elections but lost, added that “childhood malnutrition leads to poor performance in school and diminishes intellectual abilities as adults.”

“The government has to invest in young children and even unborn children. That is our long-term investment that I guarantee will pay off,” she said.

The forum was organized by United for Healthier Kids (U4HK), a multi-sector advocacy group that seeks to address hunger and malnutrition among Filipino school-aged children.

The forum was followed by the launch of www.u4hk.ph/hangryabouthunger, a site that aims to inspire and move young Filipinos to donate or volunteer for malnutrition-advocacy programs.

In April 2016, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology found that the chronic malnutrition rate among children aged 0-2 in the Philippines was at 26.2%, the highest in 10 years.

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