Inauguration and Oath Taking of Governor Rhodora J. Cadiao and Elected Officials of the Province of Antique

June 28, 2022


Speech of Hon. Loren Legarda

28 June 2022 | Culasi, Antique


Mga kababayan, fellow Antiqueños, Mayad nga aga kaninyo tanan!


Today, I am feeling mixed emotions of happiness, sadness, and excitement.


I am happy to join all of you in this momentous event for our dear province of Antique, as this oath-taking ceremony of newly elected officials ushers yet another chapter for our province – a continuation of the golden age we started when we took our oath three years ago—me, as the Lone Representative of Antique. Together with a shared vision and hard work, we promised to bring Antique back to greater heights.


I am excited because I will be inaugurating a new set of dedicated and hardworking local chief executives and officials. I am excited, too, because I will be turning over my position to my younger brother, AA, who is a younger version of my resolute and committed Papa and whom I know will be doing his best to continue the legacy we started. But let me hasten to add, feeling sad because all this means I have to temporarily leave our province and take on the role of a Senator once again. There is no doubt that I am looking forward to being back in the Senate and serving a greater purpose. This would also mean lesser time from my lovely home in Pandan and from you, my kasimanwa. But, of course, it does not mean goodbye.


As I look back on our last three years together, I cannot help but be grateful to everyone who shared a part in bringing hope, improvement, and progress to our province. In just a short period, we managed to bring national government programs, projects, and services closer to Antiqueños and uplift thousands of lives. Never has Antique had so much potential and development.


For education, we were able to fund the construction of 82 new classrooms in 12 elementary and high schools in Antique under the Basic Education Facilities Fund or BEFF, while 11 Department of Education (DepEd) schools in Antique received the first batch of Information Technology (IT) packages. Through the Commission on Higher Education’s Tulong Dunong program, we were able to grant scholarships and support the academic dreams of 23,293 college students from 2017 to 2020. We provided free wi-fi to 21 barangays throughout the province, from the southernmost part of our province, Anini-y, to the northernmost part of it, Libertad. Even our kasimanwa in Barangays Poblacion in Caluya and Batbatan in Culasi benefited from our project. This free wi-fi project came just in time to aid thousands of students who were facing difficulties and challenges as we shifted from face-to-face classes to remote learning amid the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Through our initiative and efforts, an extended campus of the University of the Philippines Visayas will be established in my hometown of Pandan. I am excited to see more Antiqueños become Iskolar ng Bayan and uphold – embody – honor, and excellence in their lives and in our community.


For jobs and employment, 85,568 Antiqueños from 2019 to present received employment assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers, while 9,377 interns were employed from 2019 to present through the DOLE’s Government Internship Program. This includes our “para-teachers,” who helped provide much-needed assistance to learners amid the pandemic. Through our partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, we conducted capacity and skills development programs, such as the Barangay Kabuhayan Skills Training Program (BKSTP), the Special Training for Employment Program (STEP), and the Training For Work Scholarship Program (TWSP).


For livelihood, we assisted 4,751 beneficiaries from 2019 to the present through the DOLE Pangkabuhayan Program, and together with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, we provided livelihood opportunities to 67 associations and 4,795 individuals in Antique. These opportunities aided our small business owners and communities, as well as organizations. Hindi lang iyan. We also gave seed money to 8,537 Antiqueños who needed it to start their livelihood projects through the DSWD Sustainable Livelihood Program.


Through the Department of Science and Technology, we now have four out of five Techno Hubs operational, paving the way for developing and producing 14 new products. We provided support for our local weavers through the establishment of the Weaving and Processing Center/Cotton Processing in Barangay Padang, Patnongon, which we funded under the 2018 General Appropriations Act, and for the Bulalacao Calooy Tulala Farmers Association, through the improvement of their coffee processing center and provision of equipment such as dehuller, coffee roaster, multi-purpose dryer, mini chain saw, vacuum sealer, crates, and green bags, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry.


For health, we have turned over a total of 115 Barangay Health Stations and four units of sea ambulances to our kasimanwa to ensure they have access to immediate and affordable health assistance. Our Zero Open Defecation Project, aimed at eradicating the problem of open defecation in our communities, was also a success, with 7,259 toilet bowls distributed to different barangays all over the province. We are now almost halfway through, and I am sure that we will be able to cover all 15,075 households with shared and/or no sanitary toilet facility in Antique in no time.


As of June 25, we have a total of 316,711 doses of vaccines allocated to the province, and as of March 6, 307,200 Antiqueños have received complete vaccination against COVID-19. I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank our doctors, nurses, barangay health workers, and other health care personnel for their hard work during the pandemic. Thank you for sacrificing your health and risking your lives to ensure that every Antiqueño is healthy and safe. And as we slowly recover from the pandemic, allow us to repay all your sacrifices. Kami naman ang babawi sa inyo.


For agriculture, we funded the Carabao-Based Improvement Network lodged under the Philippine Carabao Center Acceleration of Livelihood and Asset Build-up in 2019. Our efforts to bring the program closer to our carabao raisers resulted in the distribution of a total of 160 dairy carabaos to two recipient cooperatives in Antique, 30 of which were given to Pandan Multipurpose Cooperative and 130 to Hamtic Multipurpose Cooperative. These carabaos were accompanied by milk consolidation and milk processing equipment, ready to be used in the milk processing and dairy outlet in New Hamtic Public Terminal and Market, which is ready for turnover. Under the National Dairy Authority, we distributed 99 pregnant heifers to different municipalities while a herd of 189 cattle is being cared for and raised by our farmers. Imagine, from January to September 23, 2021 alone, we reached a total milk production of 112,386 liters, with net production valued at P2.57 million. Salamat sa mga kaagapay nating mga magsasaka at mangingisda na “backbone” ng ating agrikultura. Dahil sa inyo, mahigit 24,038 na mga batang Antiqueño ang nabigyan ng gatas sa pamamagitan ng School Based Feeding Program – Milk Feeding Program (SBF-MFP).


In 2019, we also allocated P50 million under the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources budget for the fabrication of 200 units of 20-footer FRP boats.


For social services, 49,000 Antiqueños received financial assistance from DSWD’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) since 2019, while 41,269 patients benefited from the DOH’s Medical Assistance for Indigent Patients (MAIP) Program from 2019 to February 2022, amounting to P187.37 million.


For infrastructure, we supported the construction of various farm-to-market roads in the province because we believe these will enhance our rural-urban connectivity, reduce travel time in transporting agricultural goods and farm equipment, and encourage the development of local markets and agricultural business in the province. We funded community projects under KALAHI-CIDSS-KKB and allocated a total of P20 million for constructing a fire station and procuring a fire truck for the Antique Bureau of Fire Protection. To enhance the tourism industry and socio-economic activities in our home province, we funded the construction of the Antique Esplanade in San Jose de Buenavista, which can now be accessed by our kasimanwa and will hopefully bring more livelihood to the nearby communities, promote active lifestyles, and attract local and foreign visitors alike.


For culture and arts, we provided funding for the rehabilitation of the Balay Nga Bato, the Old Capitol Building, and the plazas in each of the 18 municipalities of Antique to preserve our unique culture and heritage, bring it closer to our people, and reawaken the Antiqueño pride in our history. Our Old Capitol Building will be repurposed into a textile gallery, museum and library. At the same time, the only remaining Balay Nga Bato has been restored and will soon be the home of the Institute of Living Traditions.


These are just some of the things we have never seen before in our province, and there are many more. And as we move forward to the new normal, we vow to continue bringing these programs closer to Antiqueños and the rest of our country.


As I now return to the Senate with greater purpose and resolve amidst the challenges of post-pandemic reconstruction and rehabilitation, we will create policies that will uplift the life of every Filipino – be it through the provision of job and livelihood opportunities, the improvement of health and social services, the construction of facilities and other infrastructure, the upgrading of our food and agriculture system, the protection of our environment and communities, or the preservation of our culture and heritage.


We will continue what we started in 1998 when we first received the mandate from the Filipino people as Senator of the Republic. Only this time, your Inday Loren will be better and stronger, because I have you with me.


Together, we will bring our learnings from the pandemic to the Senate and tell them how our province – what was once the poorest province in the Panay Island – rose to the challenge and faced the pandemic head-on. We will share our story of recovery, not just from COVID-19 but from the decades of negligence, and let this be the source of our country’s future policies.


For education, we will push for better welfare and adequate support for our teachers and non-teaching personnel, commit to bringing down the number of out-of-school youth and improve the quality of education in the country. We will push for the One Tablet, One Student Act that would provide each student with resources to cope with the blended learning system;


For jobs and employment, we will propel employment creation, facilitation, and enhancement by strengthening government interventions to give our people hope, especially the poorest of the poor, and assurance that they are given priority and adequate assistance. We will amend the Public Employment Service Office that we co-authored and passed in our first term as Senator to include entrepreneurship and to strengthen LGUs by establishing Barangay Employment and Entrepreneurship Service Office (BEESO), to facilitate employment matching at the barangay level;


For livelihood, we will institutionalize livelihood programs under the Pangkabuhayan bill to ensure that more Filipinos are given the opportunity to start their own livelihood and be financially independent. We will invest invaluable support in culture-based livelihood and protection of natural wonders all over our country and call for more significant support for our MSMEs;


For health, we will push for the full implementation of the Universal Health Care Act that mandates regulating the country’s health facilities and services and the support given to the healthcare workforce. We will continue to provide quality health care services and address issues that affect our people’s health and well-being;


For agriculture, we will push for the support for agriculture and fisheries, especially for small farmers, to enable Filipinos to have a sustainable, resilient, and regenerative food system;


For social services, we will ensure that the poor are treated with dignity, our elderly can retire comfortably, and our delinquent youth can reform adequately. We will ensure that services such as AICS and MAIP are made available in all public health facilities in the country and commit to providing what is right and just for every Filipino;


For infrastructure, we will provide efficient urban and rural transport and infrastructure that will help realize the full potential of our countryside;


For culture and arts, we will encourage the preservation of our heritage structures and the understanding of our culture and history and call on the government to regularly showcase Philippine art and culture through art fairs, exhibitions, and workshops that will enrich the awareness and enthusiasm of Filipinos; and


For the environment, we will strengthen the implementation of our climate change and sustainability laws to ensure a climate-resilient economy that will be fair and just to all the vulnerable populations of our country, and continue to call on the government, the private sector, and the civil society to engage in projects and programs that would address overexploitation, habitat loss, and pollution.


All these would be possible if we foster unity. Pagkakaisa. This is the call of the new national leadership and our shared value exemplified amongst Antiquenos these past years.


To recover truly and fully means to unite and work together to reach our common goal and aspirations: Recovery – Pagbangon.


So, my kasimanwa, I trust that we all work together. After all, we are all Filipinos – one people and one country healing and recouping our lost time together. We will sustain our past gains and continue to strive towards our shared vision: a free, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient progressive Philippines.


On a final note, as gratitude is a memory of our hearts, I would like to thank everyone who was part of this beautiful journey. First and foremost, God, who is the source of our strength, wisdom, peace, and life itself. The Lord’s graciousness has allowed me to achieve everything I have now. I am eternally grateful. Thank you to my family; my late Antiqueña mother, my Papa, my Nanay Fely, and my two sons, my greatest source of inspiration. Thank you to all Antiqueños, I have learned from all of you, and to my staff and volunteers, friends and personal supporters, to Rhoda Pon-an and Loren sa Barangay volunteers. I could not have survived the last three years without your help.


To all the Antiqueños who trusted and supported Inday Loren, you all indeed enriched and completed me as your leader. I will carry the warmth of your support and the cares that came along with it as I take on once again the hat of a Senator that will bring the flight of the Antiquenos and the rest of the Filipinos to recovery and greater heights as on one nation.


Duro duro gid nga salamat! Palangga ko kamo!