Press Release
April 14, 2010

Legarda champions rural livelihood in CBCP forum

NP-NPC-LDP vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda today championed rural livelihood in a forum hosted by the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for vice-presidential candidates. An advocate of countryside development, Legarda vowed to ensure the effective implementation of all the laws she has passed for the rural poor.

"Sixty percent of the poor in the Philippines hails from the provinces. As such, there is no better, more effective way to alleviate poverty than to advance rural livelihood. We've got to provide assistance to our farmers and fishers, especially now that El Niño has significantly constrained their harvest and fish catch. Alternative sources of income should also be introduced in the provinces, so that rural folk can diversify and become less dependent on land," said Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.

"As vice-president, I will ensure that the laws I've passed in the Senate gets implemented. I think we have good laws that provide adequate social safetynets, but the problem has always been in its implementation," laments Legarda.

"For instance, we already have the Amendment to the Agri Agra Law which provides more loanable funds to farmers; we have the Barangay Kabuhayan Act which establishes livelihood and skills training centers in the fourth, fifth and sixth class municipalities to open employment opportunities; and we have the the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Act which strengthens the small and medium enterprises. I have authored these laws to raise the quality of life of every Filipino, and I now intend to make sure that they get implemented properly," Legarda said.

"To achieve true progress in the country, we have to make sure that no one is left behind," said Legarda. She added that the Philippines is among the countries with a very high gini coefficient, meaning there's a big gap between the richest and the poorest in our population. "To bridge this divide, we have to start investing heavily in the countryside -- we've got to open up more markets, provide more employment opportunities, and extend to our farmers and fisherfolk adequate technical and financial support," said Legarda.

"At the same time, we have to start equipping them with skills in adapting to climate change. Our farmers and fishers are among the most vulnerable to climate change, because their livelihood is directly affected by extreme weather changes. Floods and drought both damage crops and diminish fish catch," Legarda said.

Agriculture and rural development are issues close to Legarda, who has expressed preference to head the Department of Agriculture. "Of course I will leave that decision to our next president, I've headed various committees in the Senate and I've been more than competent in these positions. But should I be given a choice, I'd like to focus my expertise on agriculture. Agricultural development is the most effective way out of poverty for our country, and I would like to contribute my part in that."

A noted environmentalist, Legarda has authored landmark laws that protect the environment, such as the Solid Waste Management Act and Climate Change Act of 2009.

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