Hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition remain a significant challenge in the Philippines as a developing country and are further worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Nutrition Council acknowledges the urgent need for local government units to invest, scale up, and sustain evidence-based and multi-sectoral nutrition interventions to achieve the outcome targets of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) 2017-2022.
The passage of Executive Order 138 and Supreme Court Ruling on the Mandanas-Garcia petitions is a huge opportunity for this to happen. Thus, a virtual dialogue with local chief executives (LCEs) was spearheaded by the NNC together with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP). The event hopes to serve as an opportunity for LCEs to recognize the dire state of malnutrition in the country, the need to focus on the first 1000 days of life, and adopt sound interventions used by high-performing LGUs on nutrition. The dialogue is also a sequel to the “Round Table Experience on Nutrition” convened by NNC last 29 May 2018, attended by Governors of 36 focus provinces of PPAN 2017-2022.
The virtual dialogue was participated by representatives from various LGUs in all administrative levels, national agencies and organizations, development partners, and the NNC Governing Board and Technical Committee members. Moreover, Cabinet Secretary, Atty. Karlo Alexei B. Nograles, who was appointed by the NNC Governing Board as the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Adviser to the Philippines, provided the Opening Remarks. He called on the leaders of the local government to scale up their support further to end all forms of malnutrition through sustainable nutrition programs and provide food security to all their constituents. DILG Assistant Secretary Atty. Odilon L. Pasaraba delivered the keynote message of DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, and an inspirational message was given by House Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco, who further championed the importance of nutrition governance.
A panel discussion on “Strengthening Nutrition Services at the Local Level” was participated by Governors Dakila Karlo “Dax” Cua of Quirino and Wilter Palma of Zamboanga Sibugay as well as Mayors Antolin “Lenlen” Oreta of Malabon and Melchor Petracorta of Limasawa, Southern Leyte as panelists. Their development and integration of nutrition plan in bigger plans, policy support, sustained funding on nutrition, establishing nutrition office with competent human resource, and their leadership as chair of local nutrition committees were highlighted in the discussion. To push forward the agenda for nutrition, ULAP and its member leagues provided messages of support to encourage all LCEs to invest and scale up nutrition interventions in their localities.
Assistant Secretary and Executive Director of the National Nutrition Council Dr. Azucena Dayanghirang closed the event through a message where she challenged the attendees to be nutrition champions in their localities. She invited them to implement and sustain the nutrition advocacy by increasing investments and resources for nutrition by maximizing the opportunity brought about by the Mandanas-Garcia Supreme Court Ruling.