Why Legarda remains No. 1
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - April 11, 2013 - 12:00am

A fascinating political history is that of senatorial candidate Loren Legarda. A popular broadcast journalist, she ran, and emerged No.1 winner in the 1998 senatorial elections. She could have been vice-president in 2004, but…. She was again No. 1 in the next (2007) senatorial elections, and the CURRENT poll surveys say she’s No. 1 among the 2013 senatorial candidates.

Prior to becoming a public official, Loren was well known as the award-winning anchor and producer of two of the Philippines’ most popular and respected news programs. As a journalist, Loren earned prestigious awards such as the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) from the Philippine Jaycees (1992), The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) Award (1993), and the Benigno Aquino Award for Journalism (1995) for her sterling record as a journalist for more than two decades, among more than 30 awards.

Now on her second term as senator, Loren, 53 but young-looking, chairs the committee on climate change and the oversight committee on climate change; the committee on foreign relations and the legislative oversight committee on the Visiting Forces Agreement; and the committee on cultural communities.

To know more about her, here’s a portion of our Q & A session.

DMT: Why are you always No. 1 in poll surveys among senatoriables? What tools do you use to convince potential voters about the benefits of your advocacies?

LL: I think it is the kind of work that I do that makes people want me as their Senator. I am proud to have made sensible laws and pushed for advocacies that have helped and will help our people. Work with compassion: this is my brand of service for the country.

I usually conduct workshops, forum, and exhibits to show the people how the laws I have pushed for will benefit them. In a way, I go that extra mile to somehow implement the very laws that I authored.

DMT: You have numerous advocacies. How many of your bills in the 14th and 15th Congress were passed into law? Over which ones did you spend so much time and energy to get passed?  What bills that you sponsored did not pass and caused you to be disappointed? What bills that passed made you particularly feel triumphant?

LL: Every bill I filed is important, but among the measures that I was really passionate about include the Climate Change Act and its amendment, the People’s Survival Fund (which strengthen the country’s capacity to adapt to climate change and provides an adaptation fund accessible to LGUs and organizations), the Kasambahay Law (which defines the labor rights of and provides additional benefits such as Philhealth and SSS for domestic workers), and the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (which strengthens anti-trafficking efforts by covering attempted trafficking and renders even accomplices liable).

DMT: You never tire of introducing, and carrying through, new concerns, e.g. climate change, indigenous fabrics, LOREN, etc. (Please explain what LOREN is all about.)

LL: LOREN, which means Livelihood Opportunities to Raise Employment Nationwide, is a consultation with various sectors of society and concerned local government agencies on how to create more employment and entrepreneurship opportunities through various related laws that I authored — the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) Act, the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), the Barangay Kabuhayan Act, and the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act.

DMT: What problems or difficulties did you encounter as a legislator?

LL: As a legislator with a national constituency, it has sometimes been difficult to synthesize diverse viewpoints from many sectors, some of which could be opposed to my own. The challenge is to listen as carefully as possible to all perspectives and to arrive at an agreement especially on divisive issues. Always, I strive for a decision that will be for the greater good and the strengthening of our institutions.

DMT: How different is this senatorial election from the previous ones?

LL: This election is heavily driven by new forms of media, even more than the last one. Reaching out to a wider majority of Filipinos and especially the youth is requiring candidates to use new, more creative methods of messaging.

DMT: What is your stand on fighting graft and corruption — will these two never cease to exist?

LL: As a public servant, I adhere to leadership that stands on the principles of good governance and upholding the rule of law. This means stamping out corruption in our institutions and as a way of life among our people.

DMT:  There’s so much discussion and dissension on the issue of political dynasty.

LL: I can only speak for myself. I don’t have a father, brother, sister, mother, son, child, relative who has been in public office, and I didn’t inherit my seat. I worked on it.

DMT: I imagine people voting for you are from different sectors, age, diversions. Do you use different techniques, e.g., when addressing an elite group, and the same day, a crowd in Tondo?

LL: It is amazing but studies show that my constituency cuts across all sectors, whether women, men, the youth or seniors. I am so grateful for the people’s love. I campaign so simply. No frills, no gimmicks, no stars. And no make up! I just talk about my laws on environment, livelihoods, education and health care and how they can access and use these laws. They listen intently.

DMT: Having been a media personality, what is your view on the importance of the Freedom of Information bill?

LL: I am one of the authors of the FOI bill and I am pushing for its enactment into law as it promotes honesty, transparency and accountability, which must be upheld to gain back the people’s confidence and faith in the bureaucracy.

Under this proposed measure, we aim to feed our people with information about the leaders they elected in office, and the businesses they deal with. All government agencies will be mandated to disclose information on public interest transactions, documents or records.

DMT: Is the Philippines better off — economically, spiritually, etc. this time?

LL: We have seen much improvement in the economy with the recent rise in the investment grade of the Philippines. This brings optimism to our citizens but this optimism can only be maintained if we feel that quality of life is actually better. Benefits must trickle down to the most vulnerable sectors. On the other hand more of us must be able to come to terms with our national identity. Government must enhance Filipino culture to bring out the best that the Filipino has to offer.

DMT: If you were the President at this time, what would your priorities be?

LL: Generally, to steer the country towards sustainable and equitable economic development, where our communities are resilient against disasters and there is agricultural growth and rural livelihoods. My priorities will be efficient delivery of vital social services such as universal healthcare, and quality education accessible to even the poorest families. I will pursue a leadership that firmly connects with our people’s needs and their aspirations for a better life for themselves and their children.

*      *      *

E-mail: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

 

AGRI-AGRA REFORM CREDIT ACT BARANGAY KABUHAYAN ACT BENIGNO AQUINO AWARD CLIMATE CHANGE ACT DMT EXPANDED ANTI-TRAFFICKING FREEDOM OF INFORMATION PEOPLE
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