By Raymund F. Antonio
Vice President Ma. Leonor (Leni) Robredo has expressed concern over malnutrion and hunger, which she claimed caused the daily deaths of 95 children in the country.
Robredo, who first saw cases of stunted growth that afflicted Filipino children in Agutaya, a small island town in Palawan, called malnutrition and hunger as “silent crises.”
“Hunger, by the way – in the Philippines – may not be as dramatic as bullets being fired, but it can kill just as efficiently,” the Vice President said.
“Did you know that, in our country, 95 child deaths every day are caused by malnutrition and hunger? “she asked.
The 52-year-old Robredo was guest speaker at this year’s gala of the Filipino- American Symphony Orchestra in Los Angeles, California.
She left for United States on June 15 and is set to return home today, June 20.
The Vice President told her audience at the event about the children suffering from stunting in Agutaya, where she and her team visited sometime in November last year.
“It broke my heart to see how many of the children were stunted. I looked at them lined up so eagerly to meet us, and I noticed that their Grade 5 students were no taller than those in Grade 1,” she said in her speech.
She cited that Agutaya could be the “most powerful case study of what is wrong in our nation.”
Agutaya, a 5th class municipality in Palawan, is one of the 50 local government units chosen by Robredo in her anti-poverty program, “Angat Buhay.”
There are no electricity, hospitals, and other health services in the remote island town.
“The nearest health care for people in Agutaya is a 10-hour boat ride away and that boat gets there from Coron only once a week. If their health concerns are more urgent, the residents can travel by boat to Iloilo port,” she said.
In addressing malnutrition and hunger, Robredo’s office had given healthy food to more than 2,000 undernourished children as well as nutrition education to their parents.
A team from the Office of the Vice President and its partners also returned to Agutaya for the turn-over of solar generator, motorized boats, educational toys, and school supplies.
“It was deeply touching that people met us in tears, simply grateful that some people from the government went there to visit,” Robredo said.
“Instead of bitterness, we only saw resolve to work hard every day despite their lack of resources. Instead of anger, we only saw acceptance and faith that things will be better,” she added.
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