By Darryl John Esguerra

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (RTVM screengrab)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said he wants ending hunger to be his lasting legacy.

Speaking at the Walang Gutom Awards in Malacañang, Marcos recalled being asked during a media interview what he wanted to be his administration’s legacy.

“And it was a question I was not prepared for. It was a question that I actually had not thought about. But the answer came to me in an instant,” Marcos recalled.

“Wala nang gutom. Wala nang gutom na Pilipino (No more hunger. No more hungry Filipinos). That is my dream. No hungry Filipino,” he added.

Citing data from the Department of Social Welfare (DSWD), the President said around three million households still suffer from involuntary hunger.

To address this, Marcos issued Executive Order No. 44 in October last year, establishing the “Walang Gutom 2027: Food Stamp Program” as a flagship program of the national government in addressing hunger and stunting among children.

Under the program, the DSWD, as the primary government entity responsible for the implementation and management of social welfare development programs, will serve as the lead implementing agency.

The program provides monetary assistance for targeted beneficiaries to purchase food commodities from eligible partner merchant stores.

Likewise, it provides the government with data to monitor the progress of beneficiaries in addressing their food problems, ensuring that their families are getting the food and nutrition that they require.

Marcos also emphasized the critical role of local government units (LGUs) in the fight against hunger, especially in ensuring that programs will reach the grassroots level.

“As agents of the government on the ground, our LGUs not only have a better knowledge and have good insights on the incidence of hunger in their localities, but also provide, maybe, perhaps better programs, better strategies, or approaches to address hunger specific to the areas that their constituents lie,” he said.

Exceptional local anti-hunger initiatives

During the ceremony, Marcos led the recognition of LGUs with outstanding anti-hunger and food security initiatives for the pioneering Walang Gutom Awards 2024.

From over 100 participating LGUs, 17 finalists were identified by the DSWD and Galing Pook Foundation (GPF), of which 10 were named winners.

The winners are:

(Barangay Level)

-Barangay Commonwealth, Quezon City

-Barangay Naggasican, Santiago City

(Municipal Level)

-Asuncion, Davao Del Norte

-Palompon, Leyte

-Bacnotan, La Union

(City Level)

-Kidapawan City, Cotabato

-Bago City, Negros Occidental

-Cadiz City, Negros Occidental

-Mati City, Davao Oriental

(Provincial Level)

-Biliran

Each winning LGU will receive PHP2 million funding allocation from the DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

The seven LGU finalists, meanwhile, will receive PHP1 million SLP funds.

The Walang Gutom Awards is a collaboration of the DSWD and GPF that aims to honor and replicate the best practices of LGUs in addressing food security and nutrition challenges, contributing to the nation’s goal of eradicating involuntary hunger by 2027. (PNA)