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SPEECH | Taguiwalo on why CRDA is crucial to ARMM: Half of families poor, food-insecure

A lumad family forced to flee home and farm during pitched battles in Maguindanao between government and BIFF forces is seen in this March 2015 file photo by Kilab Multimedia. At the weekend, the government launched a massive program to beat poverty and food insecurity in the conflict-ridden ARMM.

MANILA - With official data showing half of families in the Automous Region in Muslim Mindanao tagged poor, while education and productivity losses could reach P318 billion, a massive reform and development program launched at the weekend is vital to bringing the South out of its dire state, the social welfare chief said.

In a speech at Saturday's launch of the Comprehensive Reform and Development Agenda (CRDA), Secretary Judy Taguiwalo cited data from the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA) showing the poverty incidence in the ARMM even rose from 46.9 percent in 2012 to 53.4 percent in 2015.

This means, the DSWD noted, that one in every two families in the region had an income lower than the poverty threshold or the minimum income to meet their basic food and non-food necessities.

There's more bleak data cited at the launch of CRDA in rites graced by President Duterte in Cotabato City: According to the 2015 FNRI-DOST Household Food Insecurity Access Scale, 44.5 percent of the households in ARMM are food-insecure.

The same 2015 FNRI-DOST study revealed, added Taguiwalo, "that 24.9 percent of children in ARMM are underweight, 45.2 percent are stunted while 8.2 percent are suffering from wasting or the absurd low weight for a certain height. Further, the 2013 FNRI-DOST and Save The Children Joint Study reported that an approximation of P328 billion is lost as per the combined costs of education and productivity losses associated with childhood undernutrition."

In this context, the "DSWD-led interagency project on nutrition addressing hunger and malnutrition among children in ARMM has come to life," explained.

HERE'S FULL TEXT OF HER SPEECH:

Sec. Judy M. Taguiwalo Speech for the Launching of the Comprehensive Reform and Development Agenda for ARMM and other Armed-conflict Affected Areas in Regions IX, X, and XII


President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Governor Mujiv Hataman, Vice-Governor Haroun Al-rashid Lucman, Sec. Guiling Mamondiong of TESDA, Sec. Ismael Sueno of DILG, Sec. Alfonso Cusi of DOE, Sec. Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial of DOH, OIC-CEO Ramon Aristoza of PhilHealth, Usec. Ranibai Dilangalen of DA, CHED Commissioner Prospero De Vera, Dr. Habib Macaayong of MSU, our fellow civil servants in the government service, representatives of civil society organizations and our kasimanwa dinhi sa Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, Mayong hapon sa aton tanan.

First of all, let me take this opportunity to thank Sec. Mamondiong and all his hardworking staff and team at the TESDA for making this project launching possible. Through the help of the Office of the President, OPAPP, PMS, our fellow national government agencies such as DILG, DOE, DOH, PhilHealth, DA, CHED, DSWD, and the local officials of the ARMM, TESDA has successfully lead the inter-agency taskforce to thislaunching of the Comprehensive Reform and Development Agenda for ARMM and other Armed-conflict Affected Areas in Regions IX, X, and XII. Hatagan naton sang tatlong bagsak ang TESDA for bringing us all together to assist the ARMM pursue its development goals and objectives.

Now, allow me to go to the role of our department, the Department of Social Welfare and Development or the DSWD in this inter-agency project. To be frank, DSWD’s role in this inter-agency project was formulated by no less than the President himself. Yes, it was President Duterte who as early as July called our attention to the hunger and malnutrition problem in the ARMM and how our Department should do something about it. The President has a built in radar for detecting people's needs and he is especially concerned with the situation of the children. And for the children of ARMM! He wants to ensure that the children are fed adequately so that they can develop fully and grow into productive adults.

But the pervasive poverty in ARMM is the main obstacle in Pres Digong's and our dresm of well-nourished and healthy children.

According to the PSA, the poverty incidence in the ARMM rose from 46.9 percent in 2012 to 53.4 percent in 2015. This means that one in every two families in The region had an income lower than the poverty threshold or the minimum income to meet their basic food and non-food necessities.

According to the 2015 FNRI-DOST Household Food Insecurity Access Scale, 44.5 percent of the households in ARMM are food insecure. The same 2015 FNRI-DOST study revealed that 24.9 percent of the children in ARMM are underweight, 45.2 percent are stunted while 8.2 percent are suffering from wasting or the absurd low weight for a certain height. Further, the 2013 FNRI-DOST and Save The Children Joint Study reported that an approximation of PhP 328 Billion is lost as per the combined costs of education and productivity losses associated with childhood undernutrition.

It is in this light or darkness, accompanied by the push from President Duterte and the harsh realities of the times, that the DSWD-led inter-agency project on nutrition addressing hunger and malnutrition among children in ARMM has come to life.

Through the leadership of Usec. Mae Fe Templa and Dir. Maristela Abenojar, along with the active participation of our partner national government agencies such as FNRI-DOST, NNC-DOH, DepEd, CHED, DAR, DA, and DILG as well as close coordination and planning with ARMM officials and agencies, we have designed BANGUN - Bangsa Moro Umpungan sa Nutrisyun.

We have agreed on the following objectives: 1) engage the active participation of the children, parents, communities and concerned LGUs in the entire process of project implementation; 2) harmonize the technical assistance and services of different government agencies in addressing hunger and malnutrition among children 0-12 years old in ARMM; 3) ensure access of children to culturally-appropriate foods available in the local communities; and 4) increase the weight of underweight and severely underweight children after 180 days of nutrition support.

Currently, the project targets 100% of the identified children aged 0-12 years old who are underweight in the pilot provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, and Lanao del Sur. Particularly these are the municipalities of Datu Salibo, Datu Piang, Mamasapano, Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Jolo, Patikul and Butig which were chosen primarily on the rate of malnutrition in the area.

Concretely, the team plans to conduct parent education, baby food production, community-based nutrition support activities, referral of malnourished children to appropriate institutions, membership in sustainable livelihood programs, and referral for communities access to safe and potable drinking water.

Funding had been allocated to BANGUN. The DSWD central office had already pledged PhP 46 Million for the remaining months of this year and PhP 154 Million for next year. DILG ARMM has also pledged PhP 214 Million for this project and we hope that our partner CSOs and other development agencies will assist us in ensuring that BANGUN achieve its objectives.

The DSWD in partnership with all the agencies in our inter-agency project on nutrition addressing hunger and malnutrition among children in ARMM pledges our commitment to and support for to the Comprehensive Reform and Development Agenda for ARMM and other Armed-Conflict Affected Areas in Regions IX, X, and XII, an agenda which will redound to healthier children and families and prosperous and peaceful communities.

Our participation here and in all other programs is guided by President Digong's clear instruction to us , government officials and servants of the people:

Maagap at mapagkalingang serbisyo sa mamamayan laluna sa mahirap

Patas na pagtrato sa mga komunidad na hindi nagngilala ng kulay

Tapat na serbisyo na walang bahid ng korapsyon!

Maraming salamat at Lagi - Gikan sa masa, para sa masa.

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