The imperative to invest in nutrition is enshrined in the 1989 Philippine Constitution as it mandates the State to defend the right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition (Article XV, Section 3), and to make available an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development and other social services (Article XIII, Section 11).
Landmark legislations enacted at the national level provide the legal bases for the implementation of nutrition programs across local governments in the country. These laws recognize the crucial role of nutrition in building a healthy, empowered and resilient Filipino citizenry.
Local Nutrition Program Management
Presidential Decree 491 of 1974 or the Nutrition Act of the Philippines created the National Nutrition Council (NNC) to supervise, coordinate and evaluate the implementation of the national nutrition program which shall be implemented by all agencies and instrumentalities of both the government and the private sector concerned with improving the nutrition of our people. The NNC shall coordinate and integrate policies and programs of all agencies and instrumentalities of the government charged with the prosecution of existing law, policies, rules and regulations concerning nutrition.
Presidential Decree 1569 strengthens the Barangay Nutrition Program by providing for a Barangay Nutrition Scholar (BNS) in every barangay to assist in the coordination and implementation of nutrition programs, projects and activities and the barangay level.
Letter of Instruction 441 of 1976 Instructs various departments of government to address malnutrition. This issuance authorizes the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to establish functioning nutrition committees at different administrative levels (barangay, municipality, city, province, and region) to coo.
The Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act 7160) mandates local government units to exercise their powers and discharge their functions as are necessary and appropriate for the effective provision of basic services including child welfare and nutrition services
The Salt Iodization Law (Republic Act 8172) was enacted to contribute to the elimination of micronutrient malnutrition in the country, particularly iodine deficiency disorders, through the cost-effective preventive measure of salt iodization. The law requires all producers manufacturers of food-grade salt to iodize the salt that they produce, manufacture, import, trade or distribute.
Food Fortification Law (Republic Act 8976) provides for the establishment of the Philippine Food Fortification Programs and its implementing rules, regulation and guidelines. The law targets addressing specific micronutrient deficiencies by mandatory fortification of staple food items such as rice with iron, wheat flour with vitamin A and iron, refined sugar with vitamin A and cooking oil with vitamin A and voluntary fortification of other food items.
Infant and Young Child Feeding
The Philippine Milk Code (Executive Order 51) regulates the marketing of infant milk formula, other milk products, foods and beverages, as well as feeding bottles and teats. Covered entities of the code include milk companies that own and operate the product, including the manufacturers, distributors, marketing firms as well as their representatives.
Rooming-in and Breastfeeding Act (Republic Act 7600) specifies rules and regulations which contain standard procedures to be followed for rooming-in and breastfeeding in all private and government health institutions. The law provides for financial incentives to government and private hospitals who exercise compliance.
Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act (Republic Act 10028) requires private enterprises as well as government agencies, including government-owned and controlled corporations, to put up lactation stations. Expenses incurred in pursuant of this will now be deductible expenses (for income tax purposes) that can be up to twice the actual amount incurred. The law requires “lactation periods” for breastfeeding employees, in addition to time-off for meals, to allow them time to express their breast milk, the period being no less than a total of 40 minutes for every eight-hour working period
Expanded Maternity Leave Law (Republic Act 11210) is an act increasing the maternity leave period to one hundred and five (105) days for female workers with pay and an option to extend for an additional thirty (30) days without pay. This also grants extension of fifteen (15) days for solo mothers, and for other purposes such as the protection of women on maternity leave from discrimination, including demotion and layoff.
National Strategies for Nutrition
The Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act – First 1000 Days Law (Republic Act 11148) mandates the national agencies, LGUs, civil societies and other stakeholders to develop and implement a comprehensive and sustainable strategy for the first 1,000 days of life to address the health, nutrition, and developmental problems affecting infants, young children, adolescent females, and pregnant and lactating women.
The Universal Health Care Act (Republic Act 11223) emphasized the integrated and comprehensive approach to ensure that all Filipinos are health literate, provided with healthy living conditions, protected from hazards, guaranteed equitable access to quality and affordable health care goods and services, and protected against financial risk through a framework that fosters a whole-of-system-government-society approach in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of health policies, programs, and plans.
National Government Agency Issuances
Member agencies of the National Nutrition Council have contributed to the scaling up of the local nutrition program through their issuance of supportive policies. The policies have been instrumental in further providing the imperative for local governments to invest and implement quality programs in nutrition.
DILG Memorandum Circular 2015-19 directs the LGUs to accomplish and submit a checklist on the determination of the functionality of the local nutrition committee of all LGUs. A list of core indicators, representing key activities on capacity development, program planning, service-delivery, and monitoring and evaluation conducted by the local nutrition committees serve as the basis for determining functionality.
DILG Memorandum Circular 2018-42 provides guidelines on the roles and responsibilities of LGUs in the implementation of the PPAN 2017-2022, including the formulation and/or updating of the local nutrition action plan, integration of applicable PPAN programs in their respective local development plans and annual investment programs, and passage of local policies to support implementation of PPAN.
DILG-DOH-NNC Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2019-0001 enjoins all LGUs and barangays to prepare their budget for FY 2020 and onwards for improved nutrition outcomes, anchored on the list of suggested projects or actions from the PPAN 2017-2022, for implementation at barangay, municipal / city and provincial level.
Local Budget Memorandum No. 77a enjoins all barangays to prioritize in the allocation of local funds for FY 2019 the PPAs included in their respective local nutrition action plans, which should have been formulated in accordance with the PPAN 2017-2022.
Local Budget Memorandum No. 78 states that for FY 2020, the Local Expenditure Program shall contain the Annual Investment Program supported by a set of local plans including the Local Nutrition Action Plan.
Local Budget Memorandum No. 80 enjoins all LGUs to prioritize in the allocation of local funds the PPAs included in their respective Local Nutrition Action Plan (LNAP), which shall be formulated in accordance with the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) 2017-2022. LBM No. 80 also includes a new provision requiring the submission of the Barangay Nutrition Action Plan (BNAP), together with the Barangay Expenditure Program.