Maguindanao execs collaborate to counter malnutrition

The launching of the “war against malnutrition” in Maguindanao was capped off with a symbolic distribution of food supplies to pre-school children on Tuesday in Buluan, the provincial capital. Unson

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — Besides fighting violent religious extremism, mayors will also counter malnutrition in the barrios in a new war front.

The provincial government on Tuesday declared “war against malnutrition” in a simple inaugural rite in Buluan, the capital town of Maguindanao, as symbolic start of the observation every July of the yearly nutrition month.

Eeman Aljani, senior executive information staff of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, said on Friday that their anti-malnutrition campaign will focus on interventions aimed at promoting food sufficiency in backyards and in schools.

The program is supported by all 36 members of the provincial league of mayors, among them local chief executives in towns where there is presence of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Aljani said the Mangudadatu administration will put up a bakery that will produce high-energy bread for children, something first in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“That will happen very soon. The provincial government will soon have public biddings in connection with the procurement of materials and equipment for that bakery,” Aljani said on Friday.

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She said the governor acknowledges the need to help sustain food sufficiency in schools and in villages to ensure that children are physically-fit for their studies not to be stifled by health problems caused by malnutrition.

Malnutrition is an issue misguided Islamic militants operating in the fashion of the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria are using partly to hype poverty as one of their talking points in fomenting hatred to the government.

The Army’s 6th Infantry Division and the Regional Police Office-ARMM separately announced on Friday to support the campaign Maguindanao officials launched Tuesday.

The program is meant ensure the physical viability of children to attend classes in mainstream schools teaching peace education subjects violent extremists rabidly oppose.

ARMM’s agriculture and health departments both assured, via separate statements, to help Maguindanao officials implement the program.

Major Gen. Angel Dela Vega, commander of 6th ID, said units under his command are as ready to help push the program forward.

He said among the projects of the provincial government the 6th ID supports extensively is the Maguindanao Program for Peace and Development, or MagPEACE, which presently bankrolls the schooling of more than 6,000 college scholars.

Dela Vega said latest reports reaching his office indicated that among the almost 3,000 college graduates produced by MagPEACE since its inception in 2011 are two beneficiaries who have recently completed a Bachelor of Laws degree and a medical doctor’s course, respectively.

“Mainstream education is one very good solution to violent religious extremism and we in the 6th ID acknowledge reality,” Dela Vega said.

Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, director of the ARMM police, said he will issue a directive to Maguindanao’s police director, Senior Superintendent Agustin Tello, to help in the provincial government’s newly-launched nutrition program.

“Our police community relations personnel are ready to help the provincial government of Maguindanao too,” Sindac said.

Reference by John Unson (