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FISHERS’ VOICE

May 26, 2024 People's Journal 98 views

DISPLACED fishermen and their families have extended their gratitude to the House joint panel for conducting a congressional hearing in Masinloc to address their concerns and challenges related to the West Philippine Sea.

Iloilo Rep. Raul “Buboy” Tupas, vice chairman of the House Committee on National Defense, and Senior Deputy Speaker, and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr., who represented the House Special Committee on the West Philippine Sea chaired by Deputy Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II, said the hearing as instructed by Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez provided a platform for the fishermen to voice their issues directly to public and lawmakers.

“Masaya kami na nandito ang mga opisyal mula sa national government,” said Noli Delos Santos, a fisherman from Brgy. Naulo, Zambales after joining the congressional hearing attended by key House officials, who pledged to take immediate steps to support the affected fishermen.

“Nais namin ay magkaroon kami ng kalayaan na makapangisda sa sarili nating dagat nang hindi nangangamba na i-harass muli ng China,” Delos Santos said.

Another fisherman, Eriderio Quezada, a fisherman from Naulo, Zambales, shared similar sentiments, stating, “Nagpapasalamat kami na nakikinig sa aming mga ordinaryong mangingisda ang mga opisyal ng Kongreso. Dapat nating ipaglaban ang ating sariling dagat. Hindi kami makapalaot sa Scarborough dahil nauuna ang takot at pangamba na baka habulin na naman kami ng mga rubber boats ng China.”

The fisherfolks were unanimous in their resolve to collaborate with the government to address the pressing issues facing their communities.

They underscored the need to fight for the country’s sovereignty, providing the fishermen with larger fishing vessels to prevent displacement by foreign entities and increasing investment in alternative livelihood sources for the fishermen’s families.

“Sa atin naman talaga iyang Scarborough,” added Wilmor Torrevillas from Sta. Cruz, Zambales, a fisherman of 35 years. “Ang tagal na naming nangingisda diyan. Bata pa lang ako diyan na kami nagingisda tapos biglang sasakupin ng China.”

Gonzales said the hearing was a testament to the government’s more inclusive and participatory approach that the House of Representatives will support under the leadership of Speaker Martin Romualdez.

The hearing focused on the impact of territorial disputes on their livelihoods, safety concerns, and the need for sustainable support and solutions.

House leaders pointed out that the hearing listened to the plight of fishermen and provided them with the hope that meaningful actions would be implemented to address their problems.

They emphasized their commitment to working towards solutions ensuring the fishing communities’ safety and well-being.

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