By Ellson Quismorio
The passage of the proposed BIDANI (Barangay Integrated Development Approach for Nutrition Improvement) law — an often-shelved measure that aims to benefit the rural poor — received a huge boost after it was green-lit by the House committee on appropriations.
Specifically approved by the Appropriations panel during its recent deliberations was the funding provision of a currently unnumbered substitute bill for House Bill (HB) 234 and 667, both of which bat for the institutionalization of the BIDANI program.
The bill, which sets up BIDANI of the rural poor as a linkage program for all state universities and colleges, was first filed during the 9th Congress (1992 to 1995).
Committee chairman Rep. Karlo Nograles (first district of Davao City) noted that the measure has been refiled repeatedly over the next two decades but has never prospered until the Duterte administration came along.
“Among the core objectives of the measure is to encourage cooperation and participation of academic institutions and local government units in promoting the country’s nutritional well-being, especially through the rural poor,” Nograles pointed out.
The congressman said the passage of the bill in the 17th Congress would be timely and appropriate given that we now have a president who came all the way from a local government unit (LGU) down south.
“As a former local chief executive, President Rodrigo Duterte knows very well the disadvantages that poor people from the countryside have to endure on a daily basis. This includes malnutrition. The BIDANI program will help even the playing field in this regard.”
Duterte, who has consistently churned out pro-people policies like the lowering of income taxes and free college education since taking over Malacañang nearly two years ago, served as Davao City mayor for nearly 20 years, it can be recalled.
The program will be established as a nutrition-in-development research program involving state universities and colleges (SUCs). It will be focused on helping the national government improve the nutrition and general well-being of the poor.
“We indicated in the amended budgetary provision of the measure that the amount necessary for the implementation of the BIDANI linkage program shall be included in the budget of participating SUCs in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA),” Nograles said.
The LGUs would provide the needed funds for participating community colleges in the BIDANI linkage program implementation, the committee chairman noted.
“Participating SUCs/community colleges may also get funds, donations and other forms of financial support from foreign and local individuals, institutions and governments for the purpose of the program,” he added.
The measure aims to develop among SUCs an effective action-research network program that will improve the nutrition and general well-being of the rural poor, thereby assisting in the development of local communities.
The BIDANI program is also meant to enhance the productivity and employability of the rural poor by improving rural poor families’ nutrition and life status.
It provides that the National Nutrition Council (NNC), in coordination with the participating SUCs, will prepare and issue the necessary rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the Act.