By Ellson Quismorio
House appropriations committee chairman Davao City first district Rep. Karlo Nograles on Sunday vowed to put up funds for the initial implementation of the national feeding program for public schools following President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of Republic Act (RA.11037 or the “Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act.”
“As early as now, my committee is already trying to figure out how much is needed to fund this very important piece of legislation and where would we source the funding,” said Nograles, who is one of the primary authors of the law.
“This law is just one of the many programs being undertaken by the Duterte administration in its effort to help Filipino parents get the best education and the best nutrition for their children. Hindi po tayo puro salita lang (We aren’t all talk),” he said.
As head of the appropriations panel, Nograles is burdened with the crucial task of looking for sources of funds which would finance the implementation of the national feeding program.
“Just like what we did when we sourced the needed funding for the implementation of the free higher education law, we would certainly need to work overtime to be able to find the money for our national school feeding program. This is a very important component of President Duterte’s anti-poverty campaign so we are fully committed to make it happen as soon as possible,” Nograles said.
On Monday, President Duterte signed RA 11037 which would institutionalize a nationwide feeding program in every public daycare, kindergarten and elementary school in a bid to fight malnutrition among Filipino children.
Under the law, the government is mandated to provide a supplemental feeding program for daycare children, a school-based feeding program for public school children from kinder to Grade 6, a micronutrient feeding program, health examinations, vaccinations, and deworming among others.
The law also encourages the establishment of vegetable gardens or “Gulayan sa Paaralan” in schools and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities to promote good hygiene and safe food preparation.
The law also sets in place integrated nutrition education, behavioral transformation, and social mobilization to promote a holistic and integrated approach to health and nutrition education.
The law also includes the creation of a National Nutrition Information System which will harmonize all existing national and local nutrition databases to identify individuals, groups, and/or localities that have the highest magnitude of hunger and undernutrition.
Nograles said that although the funding requirement of the national school feeding program has yet to be drawn up for the 2019 national budget, a total of P5.3 billion has been allotted in the 2018 budget for the school feeding program of the Department of Education (DepEd) and another P3.4 billion for supplemental feeding program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“We are still coordinating with DBM on the 2019 figures and the five-year plan. DBM cannot yet disclose the figure because it’s still up for approval. However for the 2018 GAA (General Appropriations Act), the amount appropriated for the school feeding program of DEPED is P5.3 billion and the supplemental feeding program under DSWD is P3.4 billion so it would be very important to find out if these funds are being fully utilized and put to good use,” Nograles said.
Nograles said that for 2019, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has initially placed the budget for the DSWD’s supplemental feeding program to P3.5 billion which is just about P100 million higher than the P2018 budget and around P5.4 billion for DepEd’s school feeding program.
“I think these figures were drawn up before the President signed the National School Feeding program into law. Personally, I feel this tentative amount is not enough to fully implement the national feeding program as envisioned by us in Congress. So I may have to do something about this,” Nograles said.m