By Mario Casayuran

Outgoing Senator Loren Legarda Wednesday urged Filipinos to unite in making sure that our country achieves inclusive, resilient and sustainable growth so that every citizen will be free from poverty.

Sen. Loren Legarda (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

Sen. Loren Legarda

“Freedom is not only the absence of an oppressor. We have won against the colonial shackles that have plagued our history, but we have more challenges to overcome, one of which is poverty,” Legarda said as the nation celebrated the 121st anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence.

“We need to promote inclusive growth by translating our growth statistics into more job opportunities, stable employment, equitable access to quality education, health services, and other social services, and safe and disaster-resilient communities for Filipinos,” she said.

Legarda said that government should continuously invest heavily in the countryside—strengthened support for the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises to create more employment opportunities; establishing livelihood training programs; and providing technical and financial support to farmers and fisherfolk.

As chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Finance for four years, Legarda ensured that the national budget supports the government’s priority programs, such as the “Build, Build, Build”, while also ensuring that social programs are adequately funded.

Legarda said that the conservation of the environment should also be part of growth initiatives, stressing that the decline of ecosystems has been determined as one of the underlying drivers of disaster risks and poverty. Thus, protecting ecosystems—which involves rehabilitating forests, cleaning rivers, and stopping pollution, among other actions, must be done now.

“The government has been instituting reforms to promote inclusive growth and everyone is enjoined to support these initiatives because like our forefathers, who shared the vision of independence and united towards its fulfillment, we can only free our nation from poverty if we all work together to make good use of the opportunities that come with an improving economy,” she added.