Philippine Ambassador Enrique A. Manalo was elected chairman of the United Nations’ Commission on Population and Development (CPD) 2022 session.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua made the announcement at the 54th session of the CPD on April 19 in New York City.
“Population planning and food security are key to unlocking [the Philippines’ growth potential, as well as] the health and welfare of all Filipinos,” Chua said.
“Our goal is to give every Filipino access to quality healthcare, nutrition services, and family planning [by implementing laws on Universal Health Care, as well as those for Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health],” he added.
Manalo serves as the Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the UN in New York.
Before his posting in New York, Manalo was Undersecretary for Policy of the Department of Foreign Affairs. It was the second time he has served in this position, having been Undersecretary for Policy from 2007 to 2010.
He also served as Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs (Acting Foreign Minister) from March 9 to May 17, 2017.
Manalo previously served as Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 2011 to 2016; Non-Resident Philippine Ambassador to Ireland from 2013 to 2016; Philippine Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg and Head of the Philippine Mission to the European Union from 2010 to 2011; and Philippine Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the Philippine Mission to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva from 2003 to 2007.
The NEDA chief, meanwhile, expressed the government’s goal of providing every Filipino with basic services that will enable them to contribute to the country’s achievement of its potential for growth.
He also stated the government’s strong commitment to the protection and advancement of the gains of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)—a gathering of global stakeholders, which includes those from the Philippines as an active member-state.
The ICPD aims to fulfill the promises in a Program of Action focused on sexual and reproductive health care services as well as rights.
It also strives to achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health, including family planning, safe pregnancy, women’s empowerment, and gender equality.
Chua also said that key reforms have enabled the government to improve agriculture productivity and food security.
“We enacted the Rice Tariffication Law in 2019 to bring down rice prices for the benefit of all Filipinos, especially the poor, improved the country’s food security, [while enhancing] productivity and competitiveness of rice farmers,” he said.
Chua, however, pointed out that the level of malnutrition in the country remains high.
As of 2019, among children under five years old, 5.8 percent or around 600,000 are victims of acute malnourishment; 19 percent or 2.1 million are underweight; and 28.8 percent or 3.2 million are subject to stunted growth, he noted.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges we are facing in securing food, nutrition, and good health for all Filipinos. Overcoming this unprecedented crisis requires stronger collaboration,” Chua said. “Let us continue to work hard together to ensure that our common goal of human capital development is fully realized.”
The coronavirus pandemic has added 83 to 132 million to the 690 million people worldwide, including those from the Philippines, who are already undernourished, according to the latest UN report.
It has since then raised questions on the chances of meeting global targets on food security and nutrition, as it called for a revisiting of international food systems.