Press Release
August 16, 2018


The imminent enactment into law of a measure that provides support to a child's most crucial stage of development or the First 1,000 Days bill seeks to fix a gaping hole on social protection measures for the poor, Sen. Grace Poe said today, as she vowed to fight for adequate funding of the program in the 2019 national budget.

During the bicameral meeting on Thursday, August 16, on Senate Bill 1537 and House Bill 5777 providing for nutrition interventions targeting the first 1,000 days of life, Poe said the "fate of entire generations of Filipinos can literally be determined in these crucial days."

"Nagaganap sa unang dalawang taon ng ating mga anak ang 'Build Build Build' ng kanilang mga utak... Yet paradoxically, the First 1,000 days has consistently been a non-priority of the government. Isang indikasyon nito ang napakaliit na budget na nakalaan para dito. In fact, the budget of the First 1,000 Days has yet to crack a billion pesos--a drop in the bucket in our P3 trillion budget," said Poe, one of the authors of the important piece of legislation.

The First 1,000 Days program has suffered a huge budget cut as the government has allotted P118 million for the Health department's Nutrition Intervention Package in the 2019 national outlay, compared with P369.94 million for this year.

Poe, who was instrumental in increasing the program's budget for 2018 and allocating a portion of revenues of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law for maternal and child care, is expected to introduce an amendment to ensure funding of the First 1,000 Days program when the Senate considers the Health department's 2019 budget proposal.

Poe said the absence of a law on First 1,000 days is the "first stumbling block" in the realization of program's noble objectives.

"With the impending passage of the First 1,000 Days Bill after these proceedings, we are one step closer to mending a major gap in our social services... The law which will emerge from these proceedings will certainly change our country's track and determine the fate of our children," Poe said.

"Ang ating kayamanan ay ang ating populasyon, kaya nga tayo gusto ng ibang bansa dahil majority ng ating mga kababayan ay mga kabataan. Ang average age natin ay 23 years old. Pero kapag hindi naman matatalino ang mga 'yan dahil bata pa lang ay kulang na sa nutrisyon at nagkakasakit, ay hindi rin tayo makakapagpaligsahan sa mga ibang bansa lalo na sa ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations]," added Poe.

After clearing the bicameral conference committee, the bill will have to be ratified and adopted by both houses of Congress before transmitting the same to Malacañang for the President's signature.

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