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Solidarity Message of Rep. Edcel C. Lagman during the Population, Health, and Environment Conference in Iloilo City on 25-26 October 2023 with the theme: “From Crisis to Opportunity: Re-engineering the Population, Health and Environment Network Approach for Resilience and Economic Growth in the New Normal”

Warmest greetings of solidarity to the dedicated and hardworking officers, member organizations, and individual supporters of the Population, Health and Environment Network.

Your theme this year is both timely and relevant because it is precisely during times of crisis that people are forced to find original and novel solutions to problems and the essence of your theme is finding opportunities for growth and innovation within a crisis.

In these challenging times, it is essential that we come together in unity to address the pressing population, health, and environment issues we face. This conference provides a platform to do exactly that.

If the Covid pandemic taught us anything, it is that we are capable of so much more and our potential for improvement is inexhaustible. The human spirit is a hard thing to destroy as long as we come together in compassion and as communities; there is so much more room in the human heart for kindness and selflessness that we originally thought; and the human mind has the ability to discover and uncover the key to many of society’s problems – both natural and manmade.

On the other hand, if the results of the 2022 national elections are any indication, it would also seem that we are also very prone to forgetting past atrocities; dishonoring the memory of those who fought and died for us during the darkest days of our country’s history; and in this digital age, how susceptible we are to misinformation and historical revisionism.

In what we have been calling the “new normal”, let us not normalize forgetting – ignoring the lessons of the past, misremembering historical facts, and abandoning the gains we have collectively achieved for democracy in the country. Because good governance and accountability are intricately linked to our crusade on issues pertaining to population, health, and the environment.

We are all aware of the immense impact that the interplay between population, health, and environment has on our societies. As we navigate the unfamiliar roads of the new normal, let us take this moment to reflect on how we can redesign our approach to not only foster resilience, drive economic growth, and promote sustainable human development but also on how to educate our people on the importance of political participation, full respect for human rights and the rule of law, and the need for transparency and accountability in government.

May this conference be a source of inspiration and collaboration and be an occasion to cultivate creative ideas, forge meaningful connections, and chart a course that leads us to a world that flourishes even amidst challenges.

Again, my sincerest felicitations and best wishes for the success of this conference.