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AGRI Party-list Rep. Wilbert “Manoy” T. Lee on Wednesday said that real freedom lies on the ability to buy food at lower prices and maximize our country’s natural resources for the benefit of Filipinos.

Attending the 126th Independence Day Celebration in Cebu City, Lee stressed that “while we celebrate the triumph forged by our heroes who fought and liberated us from foreign invaders, we must free Filipinos from perennial problems and sufferings.”

“Sana nga po dumating ang araw na maranasan ng bawat Pilipino ang tunay na kalayaan,” the Bicolao lawmaker said.

“Kalayaan mula sa labis na hirap ng buhay. Kalayaan mula sa sobrang taas na presyo ng pagkain at bilihin. Kalayaan mula sa takot o pangamba na may magkasakit sa pamilya dahil walang pambili ng gamot o pambayad sa ospital. Kalayaan mula sa mga kurakot kaya hindi nabibigay sa Pilipino ang dapat para sa Pilipino. Kalayaan mula sa kawalan ng hustisya, sa hindi pantay na trato o turing sa mayaman at sa mahirap.”

“Ito po ang tunay na kalayaan. Pwede kumain nang sapat. Pwede magkasakit na hindi mababaon sa utang o malulugmok sa kahirapan ang pamilya. Pwede asahan ang gobyerno na hindi pababayaan ang taumbayan,” he added.

Aside from supporting our “food security soldiers” to address inflation, Lee underscored the importance of protecting and maximizing our natural resources especially amid reports of new artificial islands being built by Vietnam at the Spratly Islands and China’s recurring aggressions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). 

“Kung agrisibo ang ibang bansa, dapat mas agrisibo tayo sa pag-develop at pagtatanggol ng ating teritoryo, para sa kapakinabangan ng ating local food producers at consumers,” he said.

“We need to step up our game and defend what is ours. Let us prioritize the development of our natural resources to increase our fishery output, address our energy problem and provide more jobs to many Filipinos,” the solon from Bicol added.

Lee is the principal author of House Bill No. 9011 or the “Fishing Shelters and Ports Act” which aims to establish fishing shelters and ports in nine occupied maritime features in the WPS and Philippine Rise.

Under the said measure, the fishing shelters and ports shall be established in the islands of Lawak, Kota, Likas, Pag-asa, Parola, Panata, Patag, Rizal Reef and Ayungin Shoal.

“Huwag nating hayaan na magising na naman tayo isang araw na nakamkam na ng dayuhan ang ating mga teritoryo at likas na yaman. This poses a threat not only to Filipino livelihoods but also to Filipino lives. With less food production, consumers bear the brunt of high prices of goods,” the lawmaker pointed out.

With an optimistic note, Lee challenged Filipinos that this year’s Independence Day is “a reminder to all of us of what we truly deserve.”

“We deserve better so we should demand better. As we rekindle the spirit of what our heroes fought for over a century ago, let us be firm to fight for a just, inclusive, and compassionate society,” he said.

“Ang tunay na malayang bansa ay isang bansa na may malasakit, kumakalinga at pinoprotekhan ang taumbayan; isang bansa kung saan Winner Tayo Lahat!” he added.

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