Opposition Senator Francis ‘’Kiko’’ Pangilinan on Thursday, Jan. 20 said the creation of a Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) would ensure that the Philippines, which is an archipelago with the fifth longest coastline in the world, would have enough fish and not import the Filipinos’ favorite protein source.
“Sisiguruhin ng DFAR na sapat ang isda at iba pang pagkaing dagat para sa lahat ng Pilipino (DFAR will ensure that there are enough fish and other sea products for all). Sisiguruhin ng DFAR na sapat ang kita ng mga nabubuhay sa napakalawak at napakayaman nating karagatan (DFAR will ensure that our fishermen will have a profitable livelihood from our vast and rich seas),’’ Pangilinan said.
“Hindi na tayo mag-iimport ng pagkain natin kapag tinutukan natin ang tinatawag na food security, o ang pagsiguro na may abot at abot-kaya na pagkain sa pangmatagalan (We will no longer import food when he focus on our attention on food security),” he added.
Earlier in the week, the national government announced that it will import 60,000 metric tons of small pelagic fishes such, including round scad (“galunggong”), to cover part of an expected shortage in local supply in the first quarter of 2022.
Pangilinan said importation is an emergency measure to ensure supply and that no one will go hungry.
“Nangyayari yan dahil na rin sa kakulangan ng suporta ng gobyerno sa mangingisda, gaya na rin sa magsasaka (This is happening because of the lack of government support to our fishermen and even farmers). May nakita ako dito na meme tungkol doon sa GemVer incident na pinagalitan pa yata ng gobyerno imbes na tulungan ang binunggong bangka ng ating mangingisda ng mga Intsik na mangingisda (From what i know of the GemVer incident, government vent its ire on the Filipino-owned boat rather than the Chinese fishermen),” Pangilinan said.
“Ang mas importanteng tanong ay ano ang plano pagkatapos ng importation? (The important question is what are our plans after importation has been completed) Paano maibabalik ang kapasidad ng mga mangingisda na pumalaot at manghuli ng isda? (How can we return the capacity of our fishermen to go out into the seas?). Ano ang plano para tulungan sila magkaroon ng bagong bankang de motor, fishing nets, at iba pang gamit? (What happens to plans to help fishermen so that they will have new boat motors, fishing nets and other fishing gears?),’’ he asked.
“Dapat ang mga hakbang na ito ay urgent na masagot at ma-aksyonan para hindi naka-asa ang ating pagkain sa importation ulit (These measures are urgent and must be answered so that we will not be dependent on importation),” he said.
Pangilinan said the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem is clear about what it would do to ensure steady supply of affordable food, an issue that has been highlighted by the pandemic.
“Ang yaman ng Pilipinas (The Philippines is rich). Isa tayo sa may pinakamahabang baybayin (We are one of the countries that has a long coastline).Maaari tayong maging seafood industry giant kung may pagtutok sa pagpapalago ng sektor (We can become a seafood industry giant if we help this sector),” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan said focusing on the most vulnerable ensures that everyone benefits.
The Philippines also covers over 531,000 square kilometers of rich maritime space (EEZ and contiguous zone) in the West Philippine Sea, an area larger than the total land area of the Philippines of 300,000 square kilometers.