Senator Loren Legarda visited her home province of Antique last January 10, 2017 to launch several projects and check the progress of ongoing development projects and programs within the province.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said that she wants to ensure that the programs of various agencies of government are implemented well and actually benefit the people.

“I wanted to come home to my province to personally witness how the programs of government are actually benefitting the people and to assess what still needs to be done for my fellow Antiqueños and for all Filipinos. These projects that we have in Antique are the same projects that we have in the rest of the country. By seeing the implementation of these projects, we would know which are effective and which need to be improved,” said Legarda.

Senator Loren Legarda explains the various programs for health, education, livelihood, employment, and other social services that Antiqueños can avail of during her visit to her home province of Antique. Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said, “I wanted to come home to my province to personally witness how the programs of government are actually benefitting the people and to assess what still needs to be done for my fellow Antiqueños and for all Filipinos. These projects that we have in Antique are the same projects that we have in the rest of the country. By seeing the implementation of these projects, we would know which are effective and which need to be improved.”

Different agencies of government updated the status of existing projects, such as the Barangay Kabuhayan Skills Training Program (BKSTP), Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP), and Special Training for Employment Program (STEP), all under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); establishment of Community Fish Landing Centers (CFLP) and provision of boats and fishing gear for fisherfolks under the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR); scholarship programs under the Commission on Higher Education (CHED); Integrated Livelihood Program or Kabuhayan Program and Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disavantaged/Displaced (TUPAD) under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE); medical assistance programs and improvement of health facilities under the Department of Health (DOH); and the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Sustainable Livelihood Program  (SLP), among others.

The Barangay Kabuhayan Skills Training Program of TESDA is a program that establishes livelihood and skills training centers in the fourth, fifth, and sixth class municipalities in order to open employment opportunities, combat poverty, and improve quality of life, as mandated by Republic Act No. 9509 or the Barangay Kabuhayan Act, which Legarda principally sponsored and authored in the Senate.

TESDA’s Training for Work Scholarship Program addresses the critical skills shortages in priority sectors, such as in the Business Process Outsourcing, metals, and engineering, construction and tourism sectors.

The Special Training for Employment Program (STEP) is a community-based specialty-training program that addresses the specific skills needs of the communities and promotes employment, particularly through entrepreneurial, self-employment and service-oriented activities.

The DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP) or Kabuhayan Program is assistance for capacity-building on livelihood for the working poor and vulnerable and marginalized workers, while the TUPAD Workers Program helps reduce unemployment, especially among the disadvantaged sector in the province.

The Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST) aims to empower the poorest and most depressed communities via science and technology interventions.

The DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program  (SLP) is a community-based, capacity building program that seeks to improve socio-economic status through skills training, seed capital fund, pre-employment assistance, and cash for building livelihood assets. It offers two tracks--microenterprise development and employment facilitation.

“Through these programs, we address unemployment by providing skills training and livelihood opportunities, assisting in the improvement of existing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and aid those who are in need of additional sources of income. We also have programs to assist our farmers and fisherfolk through the programs of the DA and its attached agencies,” said Legarda.

Community fish landing centers would be established in 12 municipalities of Antique, some of which have already been constructed and inaugurated.  Fiberglass boats have been given and will continue to be given to fisherfolks.

For the health sector in Antique, funding under the DOH’s Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) will be used to construct or expand the hospitals and rural health units. Antiqueños can also avail of the Medical Assistance Program of the DOH.

Antiqueños have also availed of the Tulong Dunong Program, the scholarship program under the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), for the school year (SY) 2016-2017 and SY 2017-2018.

Legarda said that aside from these programs that directly benefit the people, there are also projects for environmental protection and heritage preservation, which are the Senator’s advocacies.

Among these are projects lodged under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), including the Pandan Arboretum and Eco-Park, which seeks to plant endangered species of trees in order to protect biodiversity in the province; the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Rehabilitation Program, which aims to effectively manage coastal and marine ecosystems in order to promote sustainability of ecosystem services, food security, and climate change resiliency; and the Malandog River Rehabilitation and Development Project in order to protect the river for its contribution to the province’s environment, the people, culture, and economy.

For cultural promotion and assistance to indigenous communities, existing programs include the Schools of Living Tradition (SLT) Assistance to Artisans, Enhanced SLT Program, establishment of weaving, natural dye and processing centers, establishment of pineapple farms and fiber extraction facilities and abaca fiber production, rehabilitation of Gabaldon school buildings, establishment of Kinaray-a Center, Local Community Archives Project, and the National Museum in the Old Legislative Building of Antique.

An Indigenous Peoples Resource Center was already established at the University of the Philippines Visayas, while production of the book on Panay-Guimaras Traditional Knowledge Systems for Cultural Resiliency and Sustainable Development is ongoing.

“It is important to familiarize with how national projects and programs are implemented at the local level, and know the issues and concerns of the people in accessing these government interventions. This enhances my perspective as a legislator of the entire country,” Legarda said.

Legarda said that she is inspired by the developments in Antique, which she hopes would continue to improve the living conditions of the people in the province.

“I am hopeful that these programs will help improve the lives of Antiqueños and we shall not stop until we have fully unlocked the potential of Antique. This is also what we want to happen in all our communities nationwide. Our country and all Filipinos certainly deserve more. It is not enough that we fund programs that would address the needs and concerns of the Filipino people; we must also make sure that the people know, understand and are able to access these programs. Through these government programs, we must be able to uplift the lives of our people,” Legarda concluded.