With the pandemic causing problems in food security and livelihood all over the country, former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday called on the national government to prioritize the country’s fisherfolk in order to maximize the industry’s potential.
“Usually kung sino nasa gobyerno katulad ng BFAR, talagang pinaglalaban nila y’ung fishermen. Pero minsan, hindi priority,” Cayetano said in the October 15, 2021 episode of the Sampung Libong Pag-asa program which was dedicated to fisherfolk.
(Responsible government agencies such as the BFAR [Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources] usually do fight for the fishermen, but sometimes not as a priority.)
He said the government should make an “extra effort” to adopt some of the best practices from other countries that are applicable to the Philippines’ fishing industry, such as helping fisherfolk grow high-value fish.
“Ngayon po nakita natin magandang pagkakitaan ng ating kababayan ang fisheries; mas mababa ang gagastusin po natin sa kalusugan kung panay isda at gulay,” the former Speaker noted.
(We now realize that fisheries are a good source of income for our people, and we will spend less on health issues if we encourage eating more fish and vegetables.)
He also called on the national government to provide fisherfolk with capital under the 2022 national budget so they can venture into food processing and explore modern fishing technologies.
“Parati nating sinasabi [sa mangingisda], ‘Sana gumamit kayo ng mas modern na fishing, sana ‘wag nang illegal na fishing, sana mas maganda gamit n’yo, sana mag-food processing kayo,’” he noted.
(We always say to our fishermen, ‘I hope you employ more modern technology, I hope you don’t fish illegally, I hope you use better fishing techniques, I hope you do food processing.)
“Pero wala naman silang puhunan eh, tapos ngayon pandemic pa (But they don’t have any capital, not to mention that we’re in a time of pandemic),” he continued.
Ernesto Arida, president of the San Pablo, Laguna Palakpakin Lake’s Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council, said aside from lack of tools and equipment to fish to begin with, his fellow members are finding it harder to sell their harvest due to the pandemic restrictions.
“Minsan po marami kang mahuhuli, hindi mo naman mailabas y’ung isda dahil maraming nanghaharang, bawal pumunta sa kabilang bayan,” Arida said.
(Sometimes we may catch a lot but can’t get them out on the market because there are a lot of closed borders and it’s forbidden to cross to the other town.)
Lumban, Laguna’s Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council president Jimmy Lapuz, meanwhile, thanked Cayetano for the P10,000 in cash aid given to 105 fisherfolk from different parts of the country under the Sampung Libong Pag-asa program.
“Sana po makarating din sa iba y’ung sampung libong pag-asa sa aming myembro ng mangingisda sa Laguna na tinamaan ng pandemya kasi itong nagdaan na halos dalawang taon ay ang hirap po talaga ng buhay ng mangingisda,” he appealed to the government.
(I hope that the Sampung Libong Pag-asa program will also reach our other fellow fishermen in Laguna who were hit by the pandemic because fishermen have been living a really hard life for almost two years now.)