Senate cooks up nat'l school feeding program for public students

The Pagkaing Pinoy para sa Batang Pinoy bill is currently brewing at the Senate, pending individual amendments at the second reading.

Senate Bill 1279 or the Pagkaing Pinoy para sa Batang Pinoy Act is now nearing votation at second reading after it substituted several bills of the same purpose and nature last December 2016. The bill seeks to address malnutrition among Filipino school-age children while also promoting agriculture at the local level.

During the sessions held in consideration of the bill, several senators have already verbalized support for the measure. These include Senators Mary Grace "Grace" Poe-Llamanzares, Sherwin "Win" Gatchalian, Richard "Dick" Gordon, Emmanuel "Joel" Villanueva, and Ana Theresia "Risa" Hontiveros-Baraquel. The lawmakers agree that securing the health and nutrition of the country's kindergartners to senior high school students make for a productive human capital, maximizing the country's demographic sweet spot.

The bill, through its Gulayan sa Paaralan provision, is also seen to address the waning interest and knowledge of agriculture. In her interpellation, now Committee on Agriculture chairperson Sen. Cynthia Villar asserted that emphasis should instead be placed on the "gulayan" aspect to "make farmers out of [our] students" and to make the program more self-sustaining and empowering.
Meanwhile, the Senate shuffle last month also transferred the leadership of the Committee on Education to Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero. Sen. Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, the bill's principal author and former committee chairperson, has implored the new head to accord the legislative proposal the same priority his leadership has granted the bill.

Photo courtesy of PAGCOR

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