Press Release
June 25, 2018

Villar receives honoris causa doctorate from UPLB

Sen. Cynthia Villar was awarded an honorary doctorate by the country's premiere school in agricultural studies during the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) 46th Commencement Exercises held at D.L. Umali Freedom Park, UPLB.

Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food and on Environment and Natural Resources, was recognized by the UP Board of Regents for her achievements in the fields of agricultural development, poverty alleviation, education and upholding the welfare of women and children.

Dr. Fernando Sanchez, Chancellor of UPLB, said Villar is being recognized "for her commitment to public service and dedication to the welfare of the Filipino people."

In receiving the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Villar said "it is truly an honor and privilege that you all deem me worthy of this recognition."

"Rest assured that as a public servant, I will continue to serve our fellow Filipinos and our country in the best of my abilities and capabilities," Villar added.

Villar also announced her family's donation of a professorial chair to UPLB College of Agriculture for small farm management.

The conferment of the honorary degree upon Villar was witnessed by her husband, former Senate President Manny Villar, and childrenó Paolo, Vista Land Chief Executive Officer; Mark, Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways; and Camille, All Home Store President.

Villar, when she was elected Representative of Las Pinas, was chairperson of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education and led the passage of 28 bills promoting high quality education.

As a senator, she authored the Open Learning and Distance Education Act of 2014 and the Ladderized Education Act of 2014. She also pushed for the enactment of Republic Act 10931 or the law granting free college education in all state universities and colleges, local tertiary schools and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)-accredited institutions.

Villar values education and training so much that in her legislative initiatives, she has included provisions that grant scholarships to help improve the income and competitiveness of farmers and fisherfolks.

In RA 10848 or the law extending the life of the Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, around P500 million was allocated to be used for a comprehensive scholarship and attractive grant-in-aid program for agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and veterinary medicine education. She also pushed for the allocation of P750 million by TESDA to fund scholarships in farm schools and agriculture-related courses.

After the enactment of RA 10816 or the Farm Tourism law which she principally authored, Villar said there are now 1,955 farm schools and learning sites all over the country, enabling farm owners to improve their income and in the process, train farmers in the community on modern agricultural techniques and agri-business.

Villar's work through the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance which provided livelihood opportunities to farmers and fisherfolks, provided assistance to migrant workers and their families, and promotes rehabilitation of coastal communities was also among the achievements cited by the university.

In her commencement speech, Villar said her legislative initiatives are designed to help eradicate the barriers to the agriculture sector's competitiveness and profitability such as the lack of technical expertise, inadequate access to socialized credit and lack of mechanization and financial literacy. She also encouraged the graduates to "think about the plight of our poor countrymen in the agriculture sector and rural communities."

"There are a lot of exciting opportunities and untapped potential in the agriculture sector. At hangad ko na kayong mga kabataan ay magiging bahagi niyan, that you will be the ones to tap into that potential," she said.

Villar was also recipient of a number of honorary degrees including the Doctor of Philosophy in Rural Development from the University of Southern Mindanao, and Doctor of Humanities from Bataan Peninsula State University and Tarlac Agricultural University.

She was also conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws from the Philippine Women's University in recognition of her contribution in poverty alleviation, women's rights, good governance, environmental issues and varied humanitarian undertakings. Last year, Villar was recognized as Most Distinguished Alumna by the University of the Philippines.

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