Press Release
November 4, 2015


Senator Grace Poe is calling on the government and the private sector to advance the welfare and continue fighting for the rights of children, especially victims of abuses and poverty, in observance of the National Children's Month.

"In times of calamities, the economy takes a dip and the political situation is affected, but it is really the helpless children who suffer," said Poe, also the leading presidential contender according to recent surveys.

Citing the National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the DOST, Poe said at least 2.45 million children aged five and below are underweight, 3.73 million experience delayed growth, and 970,000 are severely malnourished as of 2013.

Poe laments that extreme poverty is keeping families from nourishing their children.

"Poverty and malnutrition are greatly related. If the family doesn't have resources, how can they afford to buy sufficient food for their children? And if children do not have nutritious and healthy food to eat, how can we expect them to have a healthy mind and body?" asked the senator.

"This is why it is imperative for the government, with the help of private sectors and organizations, to carry out livelihood programs that will make families financially capable to support the needs of the children," Poe added.

As a proponent of children's welfare, Poe said it is time to intensify efforts such as feeding programs and also increase food production to curb malnutrition. For her part, Poe authored the "Sustansiya sa Batang Pilipino" Act (S.B. 79), which institutes a free nutri-meals program for all public kindergarten, elementary, and high school students.

Aside from food, Poe also asked the government to swiftly act on the lack of safe drinking water and clean restrooms in communities that have been seen as a major cause for diseases.

Senator Poe also proposes the enforcement of stricter laws against child labor and prostitution.

"More than three million children are forced to work in dangerous environments such as the mining and fireworks industries. There are also incidents wherein poverty leads children to prostitution," Poe lamented. Poe is also saddened by reports that prostitution and other forms of abuses also take place in evacuation centers during times of calamities.

"We should institute reforms to protect our children. We should also make sure that they don't go to schools with empty stomachs. Children should also be involved in the formation of rules that concern them," said Poe.

In relation to this, Poe said the government should actively educate itself on the welfare of juvenile offenders and study their behavior. She said interventions should be carried out and investigations must always be fair and impartial.

Finally, Poe asked the media to be more sensitive in reporting and portraying cases involving children.

"Let us be reminded that they are children and that even if they committed crimes, they should be treated well. We should always uphold their dignity," Poe said.

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