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Congresswoman Leni Robredo Aims to Ban Soda from Schools

July 3, 2019

While other countries have already taken steps to ban unhealthy food, a similar bill is being pushed in the Philippines to ban soda and unhealthy drinks in schools around the country. The bill is called The Healthy Beverages Options Act 4021, or House Bill 4021 authored by Congresswoman Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo of Camarines Sur, and Dinagat Islands Representative Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao, as petitioned by a ten-year old boy named Daniel “Chip” Gatmaytan.

chip

House Bill 4021 regulates the availability of beverages to children in schools from preparatory to high school. The proposed statute says that all schools shall educate students of the effects of consuming unhealthy food and drinks, including sugar, to the body. It also seeks that soft drinks, drinks containing caffeine and additional sweeteners, and fruit-based drinks with less than 50% real fruit juice will not be provided or sold in schools. Potable water will be provided by all schools for free, while the selling of fruit juice with at least 50% real fruit juice content, low or fat-free and calcium-fortified milk will be encouraged.

juice

Robredo was able to explain more about the bill at a ‘juice party’ organized by Fly Ace Corporation in support of the bill last Thursday, June 19 for guests, bloggers, and media. In the spirit of the bill, the presentation came after a lecture on the health benefits of juice drinks by Professor Luchie Callanta RND, MSN of Center of Culinary Arts Manila and University of the Philippines College of Home Economics.

robredo

The bill is more than just an answer to the growing rise of obesity in the country, says Robredo. While doing research to help push the bill in congress, Robredo found that a number of of Philippine public schools, especially those in rural and provincial areas, sold softdrinks because of a lack of availability of potable water in their area.

Robredo emphasized that the bill has not yet defined the specific prohibited beverages: “Walang branding…dine-describe lang kung anong klaseng drinks yung kailangan i-ban (there’s no branding, it’s just describing what kind of drinks need to be banned). We were already in the process of defining the definitions, but we decided to already file the bill, to commence the legislative process, because we wanted to have it out within the sixteenth congress.”

Robredo laments the long process involved in getting a bill approved. She said that a bill is approved faster in the senate as it only has twenty-four senators, while the house [of representatives] has two hundred and ninety-two members reading through what may be more than one version of the bill. While other bills, such as the Freedom of Information Bill, is still being read due to its multiple versions in the house, the Healthy Beverage Options Act only has one version. “We only have to contend with opposing interests groups to have this passed on committee level,” says Robredo, “The definitions we have refined will be presented on committee level.”

Should the bill be signed into law, the Department of Health and the Department of Education will be the agencies to create, and put into the effect the implementing rules and regulations. DepEd will be tasked to implement provisions, conducting periodic compliance reviews. Those violating provisions will be fined P100,000.

Once the bill is passed, Robredo says that they hope they can also expand it to prohibit sales of sodas, and the other banned drinks within proximity of schools.

chipluchieandflyace

The bill was first proposed in 2011, in a campaign initiated by Gatmaytan after doing extensive research on the effects of sugar on health for a social studies project in grade two. Gatmaytan is now in fifth grade, and he is still pursuing the passing of House Bill 4021. When asked why he believes in the cause, Gatmaytan says, “Because I care about children’s health, I want them to be healthy.”

When asked if there was anything he’d like to tell fellow kids and other adults about the bill, he just says, “Please help me support this bill and drink healthy.”

Robredo also encourages those in support of the bill to write their representatives to push for this bill to be passed.

Are you for or against HB 4021? Why or why not? Leave a comment in the section below.

Mia Marci Mia Marci

Mia Marci likes sampling street food, even if she doesn't know what's in it. She's gotten sick to her stomach on occasion because of this hazardous curiosity, but even the strictest of doctors couldn't stop her. Mia also writes about video games, travel, and girly issues for other publications. She also teaches English and Creative Writing. In the little spare time she has left, she catches up on film and TV shows, while cuddling up to her dog and cat.

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6 comments in this post SHOW

6 responses to “Congresswoman Leni Robredo Aims to Ban Soda from Schools”

  1. cutedoc says:

    its a good start, so will they sell zero instead? but studies shows that artificial sweeteners are cancerous…

    natural fruit juice are much better, if its a public school (so even private) plant calamansi, dayap, papaya and other fruit bearing trees in the school ground and the fruits could be use to prepare juice instead of drinking the flavoured sugar juices.

    Instead of junk food, prepare a healthier substitute, like fried or fresh lumpia with vegetables, banana cue, kamote cue, turon, and various rice cakes.

    • Mia Marci says:

      The bill also prohibits drinks with artificial sweeteners, so coke zero wouldn’t be allowed should it be passed.

  2. Marnie says:

    Should also ban all high sugar beverages like iced tea and fruit drinks. Fruit drinks are all sugar, artificial flavour and food coloring as opposed to fruit juices which are made from real fruit.

  3. The thing is that sodas are cheaper than healthy drinks. We should also educate the parents and the older siblings because they set as an example to younger generations. I hope we can address this concern to the public schools. There are so many temptations outside the school premises. Think about it, we practice it at school but back home, old habits.

  4. Mike De Guzman says:

    great idea. i am, however, dubious of that event which was clearly sponsored by a company importing beverages that the proposed bill wants to discourage.

  5. Chompy says:

    What happens to kids who are hypoglycemic?

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