- Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto pushes for the increase of food budget for feeding programs carried out by DSWD and DepEd
- The senator stressed that malnourished kids get less food subsidies than prison inmates
- Recto proposes a P6.2-billion budget hike on feeding programs for 2017
Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto said on Sunday, September 11, that malnourished children receive less food subsidies than the country’s prisoners.
In a statement, the senator said he will push for the increase in the food budget for feeding programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Education (DepEd) from P7.62 billion to P13.89 billion in the 2017 national budget that would benefit more than 4 million malnourished Filipino children, as per an article published by Inquirer.
“Food for the country’s 135,000 inmates is budgeted at P50 a day each, or P16.70 per meal, higher than the P13 meal budget of the DSWD in its Supplemental Feeding Program (SFP),” Recto said.
Recto also seeks to increase the per meal budget of DSWD and DepEd from the P13 meal, which consists of viand and rice, to P30 per meal.
“Anyone who can whip up a nutritious meal for P13 should not only win the Magsaysay Award in kitchenomics but be crowned as the Iron Chef of the universe,” Recto said, criticizing the minuscule per meal budget.
Recto explained that the budget hike is nothing compared to the benefits: “The P6.2-billion additional funds are small compared to the number of beneficiaries. If there are additional funds for the salaries of government employees, why is there none for children?”
While proposing the increase in the food budget, the Senate Minority Leader lambasted on the poor utilization of funds by DSWD and DepEd on their feeding programs in 2015, as per an article published by Rappler.
“The way they were carried out last year bordered on criminal neglect,” Recto said.
The Commission on Audit (CoA) said P210 million of DepEd health and nutrition funds were underutilized.
The CoA also reprimanded DWSD for the “delayed or non-implementation of the SFP in seven regions, due to lapses in program implementation deprived children beneficiaries of the opportunity to improve their nutritional status and health condition.”
According to Recto, the total funds involved was P1.23 billion, citing COA’s finding in its audit report on DSWD for fiscal year 2015.
“Lesson learned here is that when bureaucrats dilly-dally, it is the children who suffer. Budget underspending worsens child malnutrition,” Recto said.