Senator Grace Poe called on Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to come up with ways to implement its feeding program and make sure that the funds appropriated for it this year are spent.
Senators learned during their debates on the 2021 budget Tuesday that the DSWD has yet to utilize at least P2.2 billion or 60 percent of this year’s allocation for the Supplemental Feeding Program.
“Since we don’t have the regular academic schedule, meaning, physical presence in schools, which is actually the venue where we are able to extend the supplemental feeding program to the children, I’d like to know more or less what hybrid situation the DSWD has come up with in order to facilitate the distribution of the food to the children,” Poe said in her interpellation of the DSWD’s proposed budget.
“Okay lang naman ‘yon kung papaano maipapamahagi basta magamit ang pera at makarating ang pagkain sa mga bata kasi pwede naman talaga sa mga evacuation center at sa iba’t ibang mga tanggapan kung doon makukuha ang pagkain (I am okay regardless of how we can implement the program as long as the money is spent and the food will reach the children, because we can do it in evacuation centers or other offices where they can get their food ration),” she added.
The Supplementary Feeding Program is one of the three components of Republic Act No. 11037 or Masustansyang Pagkain Para sa Batang Pilipino Act. Poe is a principal author of the law.
Under the feeding program implemented by the DSWD, undernourished children aged three to five years in day care centers are provided with one fortified meal for not less than 120 days in a year. The food ration are usually given to the children-beneficiaries in the day care centers.
But due of the pandemic and the recent calamities, the food packs were delivered to evacuation centers or directly to the homes of the kids with the help of the local government units.
The two other components of RA 11037 are the School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP), being implemented by the Department of Education, and the Milk Feeding Program, being implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Philippine Carabao Center and the Cooperative Development Agency.
Aside from the feeding programs, Poe said the government should also maximize the use of ICT solutions into its programs to make the distribution of cash aid to the people more efficient and faster.
She said the use of mobile wallets, PayMaya, StarPay and the like will help give the beneficiaries ease in receiving the cash assistance, instead of making them wait in long lines.
The DSWD was the primary agency tasked for the distribution of the emergency cash aid for low-income households during the pandemic.
Poe said that “with the available funds, handing out the food ration to the children as mandated by law, and the cash aid to the families affected by the pandemic and the recent typhoons should be systematic and fast, especially in times of urgent need.”