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Legarda: Free the Nation from Poverty and Disaster Vulnerability

June 13, 2018

Senator Loren Legarda yesterday said that freedom does not just mean freedom from foreign oppressors, but most importantly freedom from poverty and vulnerability due to disasters.

Legarda made the statement as the nation celebrated the 120th year commemoration of Philippine Independence on June 12.

“The Philippines has long been a sovereign nation but the country is yet to be free from the pressing issues of poverty and vulnerability to disaster,” Legarda stressed.

“The freedom that Filipinos need the most is the freedom from poverty. What is the use of having freedom if majority of the society still suffers from poverty and all its forms?” Legarda added.

In line with this, the Senator called for the full implementation of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Act (RA 9501) and the Barangay Kabuhayan Act (RA 9509), which she authored to strengthen and provide more assistance to micro, small and medium entrepreneurs in the country.

“I’m a great believer in providing adequate technical and financial support to our MSMEs. We must invest heavily in the grassroots level to stimulate growth that will provide more employment opportunities to help alleviate poverty. Receiving such support from the government will encourage people to engage in productive livelihood activities and

there will be no reason for people to beg in the streets anymore,”Legarda noted.

Meanwhile, Legarda urged both the national and local government to be efficient in information dissemination with regards to the availability of these assistance programs and she further challenged the government to simplify the process for people to benefit from the said programs.

“The programs are there.  We already have the funding, but the problem is not many are aware that such program exists. I call on the local governments to spearhead the information dissemination so that our people all not think that they are being left behind in our quest for progress and development,” Legarda said.

“Once they are informed of the availability of such government assistance, the next step of the government should be to simplify the process of application and release of funds. Most of the possible beneficiaries of these programs are from far-flung areas. They have to spend time, energy, and money just to come to the city proper and request for augmentation of funds, but on our end, the process takes too long such that those who are in need of assistance would have to spend more before they actually receive the help that they deserve,” Legarda added.

Furthermore, Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said that the government has to enhance proactive measures in addressing the country’s vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change in order to gain freedom from disaster vulnerability.

“Given our geographical location, the Philippines is normally visited by an average of 20 typhoons in a year. The extent of damage both in lives and properties by severe weather events is practically the same losses that we would suffer if we are waging a war,” Legarda said.

Legarda further noted that with the frequency of natural hazards plaguing the country, our progress and development would not proceed smoothly and continuously as planned. She said that we could not escape from natural hazards, but we can take measures to adapt instead.

“Natural hazards are inevitable, but our vulnerability from disasters can be mitigated. We can prevent the damaging effects of typhoons, flooding, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural hazards through the laws and mechanisms we already have such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management (RA 9003),” Legarda stressed.

Legarda said that if all the communities in the country implements environmental laws such as RA 9003, improper management of garbage and dirty waterways will be solved, and with this, problems with flood during the rainy season will also be addressed, if not totally prevented.

“Every citizen must take part in our fight to gain freedom from disaster vulnerability. We should all take action to protect the environment and build disaster-resilient communities for us to be able to respond to early disaster warnings and ensure the sustainability of our resources and livelihood,” Legarda said.

“Gone are the days of guns, canons, and bolos in fighting for freedom from foreign oppressors. The greatest humanitarian challenge of our times today is the need to free our country and our people from the shackles of  poverty and our disaster vulnerability. Like the dedication shown by the heroes of the Philippine revolution who fought for the nation’s sovereignty, let the Filipinos of today strive to overcome the challenges of this rapidly-changing society so that no one would be left behind as we move towards progress as a nation,” Legarda concluded.