The National Nutrition Council (NNC), in partnership with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), successfully conduct the “Dialogue with Local Chief Executives (LCEs): Enabling Nutrition Devolution” on 30 July 2021 via Zoom and NNC Facebook Live. Almost 2000 participants including governors, mayors, local government unit (LGU) functionaries, national government agencies (NGAs), academe, and barangay nutrition scholars attended the event.
The event is a sequel to the “Roundtable Experience on Nutrition: Ending the Malnutrition War” on 29 May 2018 at the Manila Hotel. It aims to encourage key LGU actors to strengthen their LGU nutrition programs by establishing nutrition offices with a nutrition workforce focused on implementing nutrition services. This takes advantage of the opportunities provided by the Supreme Court (SC) Ruling on the Mandanas-Garcia Petitions, Executive Order No. 138, Series 2021, and the Local Budget Memorandum No. 82.
The SC ruled that the just share of the LGUs from the national taxes is not limited to national internal revenue taxes collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) but includes collections (custom duties) by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and other collecting agencies. To mitigate the impact of this fiscal ruling, basic services and facilities will be permanently taken out from the NGAs and be fully devolved to the LGUs. This is to empower the LGUs to assume responsibility for the financial windfall for the local governments.
As House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco mentioned in his inspirational message, empowering LGUs is the best way to attain the goal of eradicating malnutrition as they are better situated to assess and immediately respond to the situation on the ground.
A well-nourished human capital base is a precondition for sustainable development, where LGUs/LCEs play a crucial role in guaranteeing quality nutrition and healthcare interventions at all life stages. This was emphasized in the presentation of Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), delivered by Ms. Arlene Ruiz of the Social Development Staff.
Nutrition is a multidisciplinary problem and local governments need to improve their capacity to bring together various stakeholders and come up with collectively agreeable solutions to solve malnutrition. This is the gist of the keynote message of Secretary Eduardo Año of DILG as delivered by Assistant Secretary Atty. Odilon Pasaraba.
Cabinet Secretary Atty. Karlo Alexei Nograles, in his opening remarks, likewise stressed the importance of having a dedicated nutrition office with a nutrition workforce focused on implementing nutrition programs in each LGUs.
Director Aries Macaspac of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) enjoins all LGUs to prioritize allocation of local funds for programs, projects, and activities (PPAs) included in their respective local nutrition action plans (LNAPs). Plans shall be formulated in accordance with the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN).
In the session “Strengthening Nutrition Services at the Local Level” distinguished governors and mayors in nutrition implementation - Governors Dakila “Dax” Cua of Quirino Province and Wilter Palma of Zamboanga Sibugay, Mayors Antolin “Lenlen” Oreta of Malabon City, and Melchor Petracorta of Limasawa, Southern Leyte shared their experiences and good practices in nutrition program management. The panelists had an engaging discourse with the participants during the open forum. Majority of the questions pertain to clarifications regarding EO 138 and the Devolution Transition Plan (DTP), as well as requirements for the creation of a plantilla position for nutritionist in the LGUs. Participants also raised the possibility of having a national law mandating a certain percentage of the budget allocated for nutrition.
The highlight of the dialogue was the expression of support to nutrition by the different Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) member leagues led by Governor Cua. Other member leagues who expressed their support to nutrition were Governor Presbitero Velasco, Jr. of the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP), Vice Governor Katherine Agapay of the League of Vice Governor of the Philippines (LVGP), Mayor Evelio Leonardia of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), Mayor Luis Singson of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), Councilor Eden Pineda of the Liga ng mga Barangay (LNB) and Councilor Lady Julie Grace Baronda of the National Movement of Young Leaders (NMYL).
Assistant Secretary of Health and NNC Executive Director Azucena Dayanghirang is positive that the support expressed by the LCEs and ULAP member Leagues present in the event translates to strengthened nutrition programs at the local level.
Written by: Strawberry F. Alberto