Senator Loren Legarda is known to be one of the most hardworking public servants in the country. From her days as a journalist, she has consistently set her mind and heart on achieving excellence and going beyond expectations. Her admirable work ethic, honesty and integrity show how much she values the trust of millions of Filipinos who voted for her.
On June 30, 2019, Senator Legarda’s third term in the Senate will end. But for her, work is never-ending and she is as passionate as ever.
In her three terms as senator, she authored and sponsored laws that spanned different areas that included the protection of the environment and resilience of communities; the protection of women and children; the preservation and promotion of the resilience of culture and heritage; rural livelihood and job creation, workers’ protection, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) promotion; the promotion of peace and understanding; and the protection of every Filipino’s right to health, education and other basic rights.
The world recognizes the inspiring leadership of Senator Legarda in the global campaign for good environmental governance. She is the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Global Champion for Resilience and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) National Adaptation Plan Champion, among many other international recognitions.
Legarda has a full plate as she chairs three Senate Committees—Finance, Foreign Relations, and Climate Change.
As head of the Committee on Foreign Relations, she has shepherded the accession of the Philippines to over 30 international treaties. For the Committee on Climate Change, Legarda reviews legislative proposals and monitors the country’s compliance with its international commitments relating to climate change.
As Chair of the Committee on Finance, she leads the Senate’s review of the proposed annual national budget, ensuring that the most basic needs of the people are addressed not only through appropriate funding but also through the judicious use of resources. She has introduced and supported funding for free college education, free healthcare for the whole population, free irrigation for farmers and support for fisherfolks, payment of pension for war veterans and centenarians, increased funding for social services and livelihood and MSMEs support, improved funding for arts and culture, additional allowance for teachers and increased combat duty and incentive pay of soldiers and policemen, among many others.
Amid her busy schedule in the Senate, she still found time to continue her studies. Last December, Legarda graduated from the Armed Forces of the Philippines Command and General Staff College (AFPCGSC) and received the Academic Excellence for Research for her paper that explores the role of the military not just in responding to disasters, but also in reducing climate and disaster risks. She is a reserve officer of the Philippine Air Force with the rank of colonel.
Legarda also finds time to support programs for arts and culture. Fervently advocating for the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and initiating efforts to liberate them from various forms of discrimination, she has become the voice of Filipinos who continue to embrace their cultural roots and heritage. She has supported indigenous artisans and the various Schools of Living Traditions (SLT) in the country. She has opened an avenue to discuss issues raised by indigenous communities through the annual Indigenous Peoples’ Cultural Summit.
Moreover, in her desire to raise awareness on Philippine heritage, she hosts three television programs, pro bono—Dayaw, a documentary series on Philippine indigenous peoples; Buhay na Buhay, a special eight-part documentary series that showcases the eight living cultures in the country; and Our Fragile Earth: Protected Areas of the Philippines, which aims to educate citizens on our protected areas so that Filipinos may appreciate the unique natural heritage that we have.
It was also through Legarda’s vision and leadership that the Philippines, after 51 years of absence, is now actively participating in the Venice Biennale, the oldest and most prestigious contemporary art platform in the world.
She also hopes to have the Department of Culture Bill enacted into law, stressing that it will help promote a strong sense of national identity, which will provide our nation a strong sense of direction and order of priorities.
For her relentless work to promote Philippine arts and culture, Legarda was hailed by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) as a Dangal ng Haraya Patron of Arts and Culture awardee. She was also bestowed with the title of Knight in the French National Order of the Legion of Honor and Knight in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.
In her remaining time in the Senate, Legarda hopes to do more. Even beyond her term, she will continue to hold on to that passion to serve that drove her into the national arena of public service many decades ago. The resolve to do more has never been stronger, knowing fully well she has a lot more to offer – first, as a leader, but more importantly, as a servant to the people.