Casiño: CCT failed to feed malnourished children

PARTYLIST Rep. Teddy Casiño today said that the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program failed to feed more than half a million malnourished children in the country’s elementary public schools.

Casiño issued the statement as the Department of Education disclosed that 562,262 pupils in kindergarten and elementary levels (Grades 1 to 6) enrolled in public schools this year are considered “severely wasted” based on a nutritional status report as of Aug. 31 this year.

“Considering DepEd’s admission that it does not have the funds to provide the proper nutrition to these kids plus others suffering milder forms of malnutrition, it’s time the government consider abandoning the huge CCT program and instead implement a comprehensive nutrition program for malnourished kids in our public elementary and high schools,” said Casiño.

“This would be more concrete and the effects on the children can readily be monitored, unlike now where we have no way of knowing how parents spend the money. Also by abandoning the CCT program, it would at least lessen the danger of the funds being used as a campaign chest for the coming elections amounting to billions of pesos,” said the solon.

Casiño is the primary author of the Child Nutrition Bill (House Bill No. 2308) and “Luntiang Lunes” Act (House Bill No. 6311) which are geared to help combat malnutrition among school-aged children.

“Now if the funds are used for child nutrition then it would not have to rely on the ten percent (10%) of the recorded income of the general fund accruing from interest on deposit accounts and performance bonds and any forfeited amounts, ten percent (10%) of the total amount specifically identified and authorized intelligence and confidential funds as provided for in the budgets of departments, bureaus, offices or agencies of the national government and fifteen percent (15%) of the total amount automatically appropriated for debt service, as provided for in HB 2308,” he said

In a recent United Nations report, the Philippines was rated “slow” in fighting poverty or “regressing” in boosting education despite the tens of billions already poured in the CCT program. Since assuming office, the Aquino government has drastically expanded the CCT program which is budgeted at P44.25 billion in 2013, said the Makabayan senatorial bet.

“The Aquino government should prioritize these children considering that they are the future of this country. For the short term, extensive efforts should be utilized for these children and at the same time uplift the lives of their families by creating jobs in the localities that involve small producers and farmers,” Casiño said.

“Malnutrition, like most of our other health problems, is a result of a host of factors, including our economic, social, and political environment. Thus, if we are to seriously address malnutrition, we should also address the issues of food security and economic well-being of our fellowmen,” he added

“This is a big challenge for us who are advocates of better health for the Filipino people. In the face of continuing poverty and unemployment, concerted action of the affected sectors especially children is very important,” Casiño said.

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