Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (EPAHP) Ceremonial Signing of Regional Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): A milestone in the Realization of Ending Hunger and Poverty in Region VIII.
The EPAHP RCT RO VIII Regional Directors, Managers, and Coordinators posed after the signing of the Regional Memorandum of Understanding (upper pictures), (lower L) RD Grace Q. Subong leads in the signing on the Pledge of Commitment, (lower R) Assistant Secretary Baldr H. Bringas delivering his message through a virtual platform.

Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (EPAHP) Ceremonial Signing of Regional Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): A milestone in the Realization of Ending Hunger and Poverty in Region VIII.

The signing of the Regional Memorandum of Understanding of the 26 partner agencies of the Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (EPAHP) Regional Convergence Team is a testament to the commitment, solidarity, and hope that the dreaded dilemma of hunger, poverty, and malnutrition in the country can be eradicated with the government leading the way.

One of the goals of the government is to eliminate hunger and poverty in the country, in the speech of President Bongbong Marcos during the launching of Food Stamp in Tondo Manila, he said that, poverty alleviation is the ultimate goal of the administration by the end of 2028, and ensure that everyone enjoys a good, healthy and productive life (PCO,2023). A challenge that each agency of the government should incorporate into its mandates to realize this fulfillable quest.

On September 5, 2023, at Hotel Costa Brava, Tacloban City, three (3) signing ceremonies were conducted, the ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the DSWD FO8 and its twenty-six (26) external partners that composed the EPAHP Regional Convergence Team, the MOU signing between DSWD and NDA, Phil. Carabao Center, and the signing of a Marketing Agreement between DSWD and SOS Children’s Village Foundation as a direct market of Community-based Organizations (CBOs) in the region.

The EPHAP RMOU signing manifests the renewed commitment of each partner agency of the EPAHP Regional Convergence Team (RCT) to achieve the ultimate goal of EPAHP which is; to strengthen hunger mitigation and poverty reduction intervention by ensuring food security, nutrition, sustainable agriculture, and enhanced development partnerships and eventually contribute to the realization of the three (3) United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as key to achieving “ Ambisyon Natin 2040”.

The MOU between DSWD, the National Dairy Authority, and the Philippine Carabao Center, intends to primarily address the gap in the supply of fresh milk in the region likewise, provide critical livelihood support by capacitating targeted dairy farmer beneficiaries for them to become effective service providers. The MOU between DSWD and SOS Children Village Foundation Inc., finalized a marketing partnership with SOS for the supply of agri-products by the Sustainable Livelihood Program Association a Community-based Organization.

The ceremony started with the opening message from the Regional Program Coordinator of EPAHP Sir Noel P. Villones, who asserted that “partnerships alone cannot cure global poverty and hunger but it can make a significant contribution by unlocking partners' potentials.” He further, upholdd that partnership can allow us to amplify effective results that will realize our goals to end hunger and poverty in the country and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The small farmers, as the backbone of the rural areas, should be developed, and be provided with vital support, to attain this vision through convergence.

Composed of different National Government Agencies (NGAs) the Inter-Agency Task-Force on Zero Hunger (IATF-0H), reorganized its composition and finalized its mandates with the enactment of Executive Order # 27 s. of 2023 where the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was appointed to lead the task force, with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Nutrition Council (NNC) as Co-Chairs. The twenty-six (26) agency partners, signed the RMOU as a testament to its determined efforts to be with the government on this challenge of freeing the Filipinos from chains of poverty and hunger. The event highlighted the commitment of partner agencies led by the chair of EAPHP IATF-Zero Hunger, the DSWD Regional Director Grace Q. Subong, who hosted the event, appreciated the attendance of the different partner agencies and committed as quoted “On behalf of all the angels in red vest of DSWD FO VIII, I wholeheartedly commit to strive to deliver quality service expected of us in the implementation of the program- Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty- together with all of you as our partners,” she also affirmed the involvement of different DSWD programs, in a quote “we will ensure the execution of our duties and functions as a demonstration of our profound dedication in achieving the goal of the program as anchored in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Ambisyon Natin 2040, primarily on hunger mitigation.”

The Department of Agriculture (DA) as the co-chair, Director Andrew Rodolfo A. Orais, emphasizes the goal of increasing the production of healthy and nutritious foods for the benefit of every Filipino family. The “Hapag Kay PBBM” project, a program created in partnership with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)’s HAPAG sa Barangay Project and the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s Green Revolution 2.0: Plants for Bountiful Barangays Movement (PBBM), geared to achieving food accessibility, affordability, and security in the Philippines through urban and peri-urban agriculture and community engagement. The program is one of the department's contributions to the aim of the EPAHP IATF-0H of the government.

The National Nutrition Council (NNC), also a co-chair of the task force, with Director Catalino P. Dotollo, Jr, its “Tutok Kainan,” a program aimed at countering stunting by improving the quality and quantity of food and nutrition intake among nutritionally at risks pregnant women and children aged 6-23 months (first 1000 days). The program is congruent with EPAHP initiatives to address food security for the most vulnerable groups of the population (pregnant women and children).

The DSWD Central Office through the EPAHP National Program Management Office (NPMO), Assistant Secretary Attorney Baldr H. Bringas, the OIC, National Program Manager of EPAHP, delivered his inspirational message. Asec Bringas compared the fight against hunger and poverty as “two sides of the same coin connected and very hard to separate,” where people become poorer when they don’t have enough food. He also stated that “the memorandum should be a pledge of unity as fighting hunger and poverty is not a solo venture” and further reiterated that “it’s a symphony of efforts across sectors and a chorus of hearts joining together.” This defines EPAHP, where according to him can “scope the world where no world where no one knows the pain of an unfilled stomach. A world where every individual has to canvass to paint their aspirations and basking the sunlight of possibility.”

To sustain all the current thrust of EPAHP in the region, DSWD Assistant Regional Director for Operations Natividad G. Sequito draws the following ways forward of the Regional Convergence Team; Creation of a technical working group (TWG) from National to Barangay Level; Synergy & implementation of Interventions; Extensions/Expansions of Members (tapping Academe); Extending partnership to financial Institutions; Participation of CBOs through the Negotiated Procurement/Community Procurement; and utilization of the Digital Mapping System (database of markets, CBOs details and products, and demands).

PCO (2023). PBBM targets zero hunger by the end of his term. https://pco.gov.ph/.../pbbm-targets-zero-hunger-by-the.../