The government’s Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (EPAHP) program had another successful launch on Tuesday, September 29, 2020, this time in Negros Occidental where Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said “the fight against poverty and hunger in the country is one of the keys and urgent programs of the Duterte administration.”
“In a short span of three months, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has conducted 7 EPAHP program orientations at the regional and provincial levels. Successful activities that focus on increasing the income of our farmers have been held in Regions 3, 6, 8, and 13,” stressed Nograles, who also chairs the NIA Board of Directors.
Also in attendance during the online EPAHP Orientation and Launching were NIA Administrator General Ricardo Visaya (Ret.), Regional Manager Engineer Gerardo Corsiga, Institutional Development Department Division Manager Dr. Leo Gallego, Negros Occidental Irrigation Management Office Division Manager Engineer Isaias Melendez, Engineering and Operations Chief Engineer Elena Basco, PHO Sanitary Inspector Ms. Marilyn Ostan, DILG LGOO of Negros Occidental Atty. Ferdinand Panes, BJMP Provincial Administrator Chief Inspector John Vincent Paredes Ybiernes, Bago City District Jail Warden Inspector Romeo Valenzuala, Negros Occidental PPO Police Cornel Romy Palgue, DepEd Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Marsette Sabbaluca, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, Municipality of Murcia Mayor Victor Gerardo M. Rojas, Municipality of Moises Padilla Mayor Ella Celestina Yulo, City of Bago Mayor Nicholas Yulo, Vice President of the Federation of Lateral C BRIAS IAs, Inc. Engr. Rafael Magalona, Bungahin IA, Inc. President Ms. Leceria Confesor, Brgy. Lopez Jaena Murcia IA, Inc Member of the Board of Trustees Hernan C. Alintana, Ma-ao IA, Inc. Treasurer Ms. Johnna Guerra, and reps from other partner agencies.
The Malacañang official stressed that the need to champion programs against hunger carried great urgency in light of survey results from the Social Weather Stations (SWS), which showed that in the Visayas, 15% of respondents have experienced severe hunger referring to those who have often or always experienced involuntary hunger in the last three months.
Moderate hunger in the Visayas, or those who experienced involuntary hunger once or a few times in the past three months was measured at 25.7%. The SWS National Mobile Phone Survey was conducted from September 17 to 20, 2020 covering a total of 1,249 respondents nationwide.
“In previous years, the highest hunger incidence in the Visayas occurred in December 2009, when the figures hit 27.9%, and in December 2011 when it was 25%. Obviously, there was no pandemic at that time, and this makes the challenge of reducing hunger more important now because of the current health crisis we are facing,” Nograles explained.
Cabinet Secretary Nograles was designated by President Rodrigo Duterte on January 10, 2020, to Chair the Task Force on Zero Hunger, under which EPAHP is one of its banner programs.
The Cabinet Secretary explained that renewed efforts are needed to increase the productivity and income of small farmers organizations while ensuring farmers’ access to markets and funding.
Under EPAHP, government feeding programs such as Supplemental Feeding for daycare children under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the school feeding program under the Department of Education (DepEd), feeding patients confined in government hospitals under the Department of Health (DOH) and detainees of jails under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) can be supplied directly with food products procured from small farmers and community-based organizations.
“Irrigators Associations of small farmers, for instance, can directly supply DSWD, DepEd, DOH and, BJMP with fresh agricultural products without passing through middlemen. That way, all income goes directly to the farmers,” said Nograles.
EPAHP is anchored on the Sustainable Development Goals, the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 and, related directives of President Rodrigo Duterte, all intended to reduce poverty incidence to 14% before the chief executive’s term ends.
“Ending rural poverty is the path towards zero hunger. I strongly call on all EPAHP agencies to continue the intensified support to our farmers and Irrigators Associations by providing them with technical assistance, access to credit, and training.”
Nograles made special mention of the active role NIA played in linking Irrigators Associations with agencies such as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to provide farmers with technical education and training.
Nograles noted that EPAHP counts on many partner agencies for support, including the National Nutrition Council (NNC), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), Commission on Population and Development (PopCom), Landbank of the Philippines, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), National Dairy Authority (NDA), Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), and Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT).
He strongly encouraged partner agencies to be more active in EPAHP, and to develop strong linkages with Irrigators’ Associations (IAs) and farmers’ groups.
“Our guiding principle here is #GoodbyeGutom. EPAHP will continue to expand its reach throughout the country because of the twin problems of hunger and poverty that need concrete solutions, particularly as we face an unprecedented public health emergency. That is what the Duterte administration is actively doing.” ###