Pacquiao reiterates support to farmers, fisherfolk

Pacquiao reiterates support to farmers, fisherfolk

By Tracy Cabrera

File photo of incumbent Senator and 2022 presidential aspirant Manny Pacquiao when he visited Sarangani province to give away financial assistance and relief packages to the citizenry. (Photo courtesy of Bombo Radyo)

MAITUM, SARANGANI — Reiterating an earlier pronouncement that the Philippines should be an exporter and not an importer of fish in response to the Department of Agriculture’s plan to import fish — PROMDI presidential aspirant and Senator Manny Pacquiao chided the Duterte government’s weak stand against incursions and poaching of Chinese fishing vessels in the country’s territorial waters, particularly within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.

Speaking to hundreds of fisherfolk in the sleepy town of Maitum in Sarangani province, Pacquiao said that if he becomes fortunate enough to win the race in May, he would be pushing for political reforms that would rid graft and corruption in government including the Department of Agriculture (DA) which apparently only see ‘bandaid’ solutions to food shortages by way of importation of agricultural and fish products.

The boxing icon was visibly irked in his statements to the fishermen and citizenry of Sarangani over the government’s foreign policy relations with neighboring countries, particularly China, whose fishermen have regularly been poaching in Philippine waters and selling back fish products to us.

“This is unbelievable. Saan ka naman nakakita ng bansang napapaligiran ng mga dagat pero nag-iimport ng mga produktong galing sa dagat?” the People’s Champ echoed a prior query following the DA’s announcement that it would importing some 60,000 metric tons of pelagic fish, or galunggong, to address the foreseen shortage in the following month or so.

“Sobrang kawawa na nga ang ating mga magsasaka dahil sa pagpasok ng napakaraming imported at smuggled na mga bigas at gulay, tapos ngayon naman ang mga mangingisda naman natin ang gustong parusahan,” he pointed out.

The presidential aspirant noted that the Philippines is an archipelagic nation and is regarded to have the world’s fifth-longest coastlines, which make it ideal for fishing and aquatic farming but it was apparent that the government has been remiss in benefitting from the true potential of the country’s rich marine resources and vast agricultural lands that have mostly been converted into subdivisions and industrial zones.

“Dapat tayo ang nag-e-export ng mga isda lalung-lalong na iyang mga isdang gaya ng galunggong at mackerel dahil marami n’yan sa Pilipinas. Paano nangyari na tayo ngayon ang nag-iimport samantalang napakaraming Pilipino ang mangingisda?” Pacquiao stressed.

In ending, the former Sarangani solon vowed to give his full support to strengthen the country’s agriculture sector as well as help the hundreds of thousands of fisherfolk across the archipelago for them to reach their full potential in achieving food security for the whole nation that is self-sufficient and not depend on importation as a solution to food shortages.


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