Legarda: Free the Nation from Poverty, Promote Human Capital Development
On the 123rd year celebration of the country’s independence, three-term Senator, now Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda said that Filipinos should continue to have a shared vision of protecting our hard-fought independence and, in the context of the present times, of fighting for freedom against poverty and vulnerability.
“We have won against oppression by colonial forces more than a century ago, but our people continue to suffer from many other forms of oppression. A true independent nation is a nation where people live in contentment without experiencing suffering, where everyone has access to fundamental socio-economic services, and where growth is inclusive and equitable,” Legarda said.
“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 health and environmental crises. The freedom that Filipinos need the most is the freedom from poverty. What is the use of having freedom if the majority still suffers from the ills of society and all its forms?” Legarda stressed.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), poverty incidence among Filipinos in 2018 was estimated at 16.7%, registering 17.7 million Filipinos below the poverty line. Farmers, Fisherfolks, and people in the rural areas had higher poverty incidences compared to other basic sectors. Whereas the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) shared that projected poverty rate in the country for 2021 is between 15.5% to 17.5%.
The PSA also reported a 4.2% decline in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) during the first quarter of the year that may impact the economic growth and recovery of the country. On the other hand, employment situation is slowly recovering from the highest record of 17.6% unemployment rate in April 2020 to 7.1% recorded unemployed Filipinos in March 2021.
“The greater challenge for us now is to create more job opportunities, stable employment, equitable access to quality education, health services, and other social services, and safe and disaster-resilient communities for Filipinos as a move towards eradicating poverty in the country. We have to strengthen our human capital and invest heavily in rural communities where most of the marginalized Filipinos are,” Legarda said.
“We cannot say that we are progressing as a country if we are unable to solve the problem of poverty as a whole. Alleviating poverty would require a whole-of-government approach and we should start in the most depressed areas in the society,” Legarda added.
The three-term Senator urged all government agencies to strengthen their efforts in providing social welfare services, as well as livelihood opportunities for Filipinos to generate income.
“It is also important to create an enabling environment where all our farmers, fisher folk communities, indigenous peoples, and workers, especially those at the rural level, could succeed and eventually provide for their own by establishing livelihood training programs and providing technical and financial support. This is why I am also pushing for continued support for the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises to create more employment opportunities,” Legarda said.
Legarda mentioned that the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); the Shared Service Facilities (SSF) of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI); the National Greening Program (NGP) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); free irrigation for farmers; universal access to healthcare; and the free college tuition in state universities and colleges are among the many government programs that would further support and open doors of opportunities for many Filipinos particularly those living below the poverty line.
“Poverty is what keeps people from achieving their goals and realizing their dreams. We should not blame the poor for being poor. They may be victims of unfortunate circumstances but we should all work together to break the chains of intergenerational poverty. Let us stimulate equitable and inclusive growth in our communities and sustain it. Let us make sure that no one is deprived of their basic human rights. Let us provide opportunities for our people to prosper on their own because we cannot achieve real, lasting growth if there are still millions of Filipinos living below poverty line,” Legarda concluded.
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