Monsoon-affected fisherfolk seek aid

DAVAO. A group of fishermen rides a small boat as they head to their fishing boat docked few meters away from the seawall in Barangay 23-C Isla Verde, Davao City. (Macky Lim)

FISHERFOLK in Davao City who were affected by huge waves brought by southwest monsoon are continuously seeking the support of local and national governments after claiming they did not directly receive any assistance from them.

"Tabangi mi sa among panginahanglan. Tulo ka bulan ug tunga ang habagat, nga mihampak sa among mga balay. Para sa among sektor, direkta sa among sektor, wala ko niingon wala tanan. Ang direkta diretso sa sektor sa fisherfolk, wala gihapo'y natagamtaman na tabang gikan sa atong kagamhanan (Please help us. In the last three months, waves brought by the Habagat has been hitting our homes. We have not received any assistance from the government yet)," Federation of Fisherfolks Association of Davao City (FFADC) president Lorenzo Borja said Monday, September 16.

Borja said the City Agriculturist's Office (CAO) conducted evaluation on their situation. But he said the local fisherfol are uncertain if they would even receive any assistance from the government due to the delay of the assistance that was promised to them.

He said FFADC, a local fisherfolk association with almost 8,000 members from 24 coastal barangays and upland agri-fisheries in the city, continues to lobby its concern to the local government since they cannot conduct fishing activities due to huge waves.

"Kung naa lang si Mayor Sara (Duterte-Carpio) diria ug makadungog sa among panawagan, maguol gyud to (If only Mayor Sara was here, she would be worried to hear our plight)," Borja said, thanking the local government for its assistance.

While waiting for any assistance, he said FFADC is pushing for an alternative program called "Isda Para Sa Masa," wherein fisherfolk are selling their stocks of imported frozen fishes directly to the consumers.

He said the prices sold by the program was twice cheaper compared to those sold in public markets due to the absence of middlemen.

"Pero usahay kaning among baligya nga stocks, dili sufficient. Maong manawagan mi sa gobyerno ug sa mga private sectors na tabangan mi nila kay sila gyud ang direct nga naigo ani nga kalamidad (However, our available stocks are not sufficient. We are now asking the government and private sector for their assistance because our fisherfolk are the ones directly affected with this calamity)," Borja said.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Davao Director Fatma Idris, meanwhile, urged them to apply for a loan with a maximum amount of P25,000 for each beneficiary. She said the loan can be paid until three years with zero interest.

"Need lang nila magpresent og report of affected fisherfolk or state of calamity nga i-endorse sa amo sa CAO (They just have to present a report of affected fisherfolk or a state of calamity endorsement from CAO)," Idris said.

She also encouraged fisherfolk, who are temporary barred from fishing, to resort to "land-base" livelihood such as farming. (Vince Eugene Suaner, UM Intern/With reports from Ralph Lawrence G. Llemit)


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