THE Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is further strengthening its partnership with the Government of the Philippines to ensure food security and nutrition in the country with the launch of the FAO Legislative Advisory Group-Philippines (FLAG-PH).
This parliamentary alliance, initially composed of 10 legislators from both houses of Congress, is envisaged to tackle national food security and nutrition issues by taking the necessary legislative actions that would impact on the agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and environment and natural resources sectors.
The Philippines continues to face challenges in addressing food insecurity and malnutrition, with 1.3 million families or 8.3 million Filipinos unable to meet their basic food needs in 2015 according to a report by the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Moreover, despite the country’s economic growth in recent years, poverty incidence remains high at an estimated 21.6 percent of the population. Farmers and fisherfolk consistently rank among the poorest. Incidence of malnutrition, especially in children 0-5 years old, remains prevalent in the most impoverished regions of the country including Mindanao.
“Legislators are crucial in creating an environment that enables the poor and marginalized to have a better chance of improving their quality of life and contributing to the country’s food security and sustainable growth. But for them to enact responsive, well-informed and evidence-based laws, it is essential that they have access to timely and sound technical advice and information.
FLAG-PH is intended to serve as a platform for sharing expertise, experiences, and global good practices,” said FAO Representative in the Philippines José Luis Fernández.
The launch of FLAG-PH is a pilot initiative by FAO in the Philippines under a larger effort to build a Parliamentary Alliance in the Asia-Pacific region.
The advisory group will initiate discussions and deliberations on proposed and pending measures on agriculture, food security and nutrition. They will also have opportunities to meet with their counterparts in other Asian countries and exchange experiences and good practices. They will also hold consultations with provincial and municipal governments, local legislative councils, farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous groups and civil society organizations.
The FLAG-PH launch was attended by Senator Cynthia Villar (Chairperson, Senate Agriculture Committee), Senator Sonny Angara (Chairperson, Senate Local Government, Ways and Means Committee), Representative Deogracias Victor Savellano (Chairperson of North Luzon Growth Quadrangle Committee, Senior Vice-Chairperson of Agrarian Reform Committee), Representative Peter Calderon (Vice-Chairperson - Global World Trade Organization Committee), Representative Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Chairperson of House of Representatives Public Information Committee, for Gender Representation), and representatives from the offices of Senator Loren Legarda (Chairperson, Senate Climate Change Committee) and Representative Ronald Cosalan (Senior Vice Chairperson of Labor, Indigenous Peoples Representation Committees).
FLAG-PH will also work with other stakeholders from the government and private sectors, such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Trade and Industry, local provincial and municipal governments, Climate Change Commission, farmers, fisherfolk, food manufacturers, traders/retailers and consumer groups.
FAO Parliamentary Alliance
At the global level, the FAO Parliamentary Alliance started in 2009, recognizing the need for reinforcing constitutional and legislative provisions to ensure that everyone has a right to adequate, safe, sufficient and nutritious food and to freedom from hunger. Since the establishment of the Parliamentary Front against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, four framework laws have been produced and more than 20 laws relating to food and nutrition security have been enacted.
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