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of the year, bil­lions of pe­sos of un­spent funds go back to the Trea­sury in­stead of ben­e­fit­ting the peo­ple. This is why LDCs are im­por­tant be­cause un­der­stand­ing the needs of the peo­ple is the best way we can plan our pro­grams. More­over, with en­hanced trans­parency and strength­ened ac­count­abil­ity on the use of pub­lic funds, we can en­cour­age im­proved man­age­ment of our fis­cal re­sources,” she said.

On im­prov­ing busi­ness-friend­li­ness and com­pet­i­tive­ness, Le­garda said that she looks for­ward to the en­act­ment of her pro­posed In­no­va­tion Act, which will put in­no­va­tion at the cen­ter of na­tional de­vel­op­ment poli­cies and make in­no­va­tion a ma­jor driver of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

“We need to at­tract more busi­nesses for in­vest­ments and em­ploy­ment and we can do so if we stream­line the process of putting up busi­nesses. Once en­acted into law, the In­no­va­tion Act will man­date all gov­ern­ment agen­cies and LGUs to im­prove ef­fi­ciency in ad­dress­ing pub­lic trans­ac­tions that im­pact on in­no­va­tion, in­clud­ing re­duc­ing the num­ber of days and costs of start­ing or ex­pand­ing a busi­ness. It will elim­i­nate reg­u­la­tory bar­ri­ers and cut red tape to boost in­no­va­tion ef­forts,” Le­garda ex­plained.

For so­cial pro­tec­tion, Le­garda stressed that in broad­en­ing ac­cess to so­cial ser­vices, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and con­ver­gence are the greater chal­lenges, more than fund­ing.

“We have so many pro­grams avail­able for ac­cess, such as cash for work and liveli­hood pro­grams in dif­fer­ent agen­cies of gov­ern­ment. Health ser­vices are also free in gov­ern­ment hos­pi­tals even for those who are non-mem­bers of PhilHealth. In­di­gent Filipino chil­dren can now fin­ish col­lege be­cause we have funded the Univer­sal Ac­cess to Qual­ity Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Act. But the chal­lenge is com­mu­ni­cat­ing to the peo­ple and help­ing prospec­tive ben­e­fi­cia­ries avail of these so­cial ser­vices. There needs to be stronger con­ver­gence be­tween na­tional agen­cies and LGUs to en­sure that these ser­vices reach the in­tended ben­e­fi­cia­ries,” Le­garda said.

For peace and or­der, Le­garda said that the base pay of mil­i­tary and po­lice per­son­nel was al­ready dou­bled and funds have been pro­vided to sup­port im­proved law en­force­ment and mon­i­tor­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

In the area of dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness and re­silience, Le­garda said, “It is not enough that we are ready for chal­lenges posed by dis­as­ters. We need to go be­yond that by man­ag­ing dis­as­ter risks and build­ing re­silience to cli­mate change im­pacts. Re­mem­ber this: Ev­ery dol­lar spent on dis­as­ter risk re­duc­tion saves around seven dol­lars in eco­nomic losses.”

For en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment, the Sen­a­tor urged LGUs to im­ple­ment the coun­try’s eight en­vi­ron­men­tal laws, namely, Clean Air Act, Clean Wa­ter Act, Eco­log­i­cal Solid Waste Man­age­ment Act (ESWM), Re­new­able En­ergy Act, En­vi­ron­men­tal Aware­ness and Ed­u­ca­tion Act, Cli­mate Change Act, Peo­ple’s Sur­vival Fund Act, and the Na­tional Dis­as­ter Risk Re­duc­tion and Man­age­ment Act, all of which Le­garda au­thored.

“The case of Bo­ra­cay Is­land is a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for all of us. It stresses the need to pro­tect crit­i­cal bio­di­ver­sity ar­eas, such as wet­lands, and the im­por­tance of im­ple­ment­ing the EWSM Law, espe­cially waste seg­re­ga­tion, re­cy­cling, and es­tab­lish­ing ma­te­ri­als re­cov­ery fa­cil­i­ties (MRFs),” she said.

“Op­ti­miz­ing tourism po­ten­tial of our com­mu­ni­ties and en­rich­ing cul­tural her­itage are like­wise linked to en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment. In pro­mot­ing eco­tourism, we must pre­serve the pris­tine state of our nat­u­ral tourist spots. We should not build on pro­tected ar­eas or en­croach crit­i­cal bio­di­ver­sity ar­eas; we should not use our is­lands, seas, bays and rivers as sew­er­age or garbage bins; in­stead, we must pre­serve our wet­lands and forest­lands, which en­sures the bal­ance of our ecosys­tem,” she added.

“De­liv­er­ing well on these core ar­eas of gov­er­nance is a mark of good gov­er­nance. All of us pub­lic of­fi­cials strive to gov­ern well and lead our peo­ple to­wards progress. But lo­cal gov­ern­ment lead­ers, be­ing clos­est to the peo­ple, have the spe­cial role of trans­lat­ing na­tional poli­cies, plans and pro­grams into con­crete and vis­i­ble ac­tions for the peo­ple. Let us all work to­gether to up­lift the lives of our cit­i­zens. Let us all aim to build in­clu­sive, eq­ui­table, re­silient and sus­tain­able com­mu­ni­ties,” Le­garda con­cluded.

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