Tell it to SunStar: Prioritize funding vs. malnutrition, not confi, intel funds

By Franklin Drilon, Former Senate President

I call on the government to direct funds towards feeding malnourished children rather than channeling billions of pesos into confidential and intelligence funds (CIF).

The Philippines is grappling with a pressing health and socio-economic problem. According to recent data from the Department of Health (DOH), about 29.5 percent of the 11 million Filipino children under five years and below are malnourished and stunted.

The malnutrition crisis in our country is an urgent matter that demands our immediate attention. It is disheartening to know that 3.245 million Filipino children are malnourished. This issue must be prioritized, especially when we consider the allocation of funds in the 2024 national budget, where over P10 billion is allocated to confidential and intelligence funds (CIF). We need to ask ourselves how much is devoted to malnutrition.

We’re supporting this initiative to highlight the problem of malnutrition in the Philippines and in order to invite the attention of the public and the government to the malnutrition issue. This is really a problem for the country. Can you imagine 3.245 million Filipino kids are malnourished? To me, this should be prioritized, not the confidential and intelligence funds.

Various studies such as that of the United Nations Children’s Fund have found out that 95 children succumb to the effects of malnutrition daily. The World Bank has revealed that malnutrition has remained a serious problem in the country for nearly 30 years with one in every three Filipino children aged 5 years old and below suffering from stunting as one of the severe effects of malnutrition.

This deeply worrying statistic not only poses immediate threats to the health of our children but also jeopardizes their educational prospects and overall future potential.

The Philippines’ dismal performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is linked to the issue of hunger and inadequate nutrition among Filipino children.

The PISA survey underscores the correlation between malnutrition and education, showing that stunting adversely impacts the capacity of our children to learn.

According to the 2022 PISA study, the Philippines’ performance in the three subjects remained relatively unchanged compared to 2018 when it first participated in the assessment.

In the 2018 PISA study, the Philippines scored the lowest in reading and second lowest in math and science among the 79 participating nations.

In the latest 2022 assessment, the Philippines ranked sixth from the bottom in reading and mathematics, and it was positioned third from the bottom in science among the 81 participating countries.


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