Feeding program tops Grace Poe’s priority bills

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CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Sen. Grace Poe, the junior politician who topped the senatorial election on May 13, on Sunday said she was thrilled about starting work in the Senate on Monday, her first day in office.

To fulfill a campaign promise, Poe said she would give priority to a measure that would set a standard lunch program for elementary school pupils, which would be known as “Sustansya para sa bata (Nutrition for children).”

Poe was here on Sunday and spoke at the oath-taking of Pampanga Rep. Oscar Rodriguez, Mayor Edwin Santiago and city councilors.

She described her presence at the Liberal Party event as her first official business as a senator.

The proposed nutrition measure would provide free lunch to malnourished children in conflict-torn, poverty-stricken or highly congested areas of the country.

The bill would task the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), National Nutrition Council, Department of Education and other agencies and groups to enforce the feeding program.

“There’s a high percentage of children who drop out of school because they have nothing to eat or food to bring to school,” Poe said.

The feeding program is encouraged by the success of the Nutribun, or nutrition-packed bread, which was given to the poor during the administration of strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Poe said.

The proposed program takes off from a DSWD study that states that it takes P15 to provide a nutritious meal to a child and P5 for fare, Poe said.

She said her share of the pork barrel could support the program.

“Did you know that an elementary school in Basilan has only 200 students? Which is why the government can prioritize the areas where this feeding program can be started before the standard lunch is implemented,” Poe said.

She said that among the measures on her priority list is the film tourism bill, which would identify places in the Philippines that could be designated as preferred film locations for foreign movie productions.

Poe said the countries where the Hollywood films “Lord of the Rings” and “The Beach” were shot enjoyed a boom in tourism and created jobs.

She said she would also file resolutions to help copra farmers combat pests and would review laws relevant to migrant workers to protect them from exploitation.

Poe said she was grateful for the wide mandate she received at the polls on May 13.

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