Fisherfolk to lawmakers: You only remember us during elections | Inquirer News
and forget about us when problem comes

Fisherfolk to lawmakers: You only remember us during elections

By: - Reporter / @FArgosinoINQ
/ 07:55 PM May 24, 2024

“Kapag eleksyon kilala mo kami? Pagdating sa problema hindi niyo kami kilala?”(During elections, you know us, but when a problem arises, you forget about us.)

Candelaria, Zambales fisherfolk —Photo by Joanna Aglibot

MASINLOC, Zambales — “Kapag eleksyon kilala mo kami? Pagdating sa problema hindi niyo kami kilala?”

(During elections, you know us, but when a problem arises, you forget about us.)


Nolly Delos Santos, a fisherman from Sta. Cruz, turned emotional as he aired this sentiment before the lawmakers present during a public consultation and a joint hearing held by the House committees on national defense and security and WPS here in the province.


Delos Santos was among those whose livelihood was negatively affected by China’s increased aggression in Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc.

READ: Zambales fishers lament China Coast Guard’s bullying in Scarborough

“Ito po, deretsahan po, deretsahan po ang sinasabi ko sa saloobin ko po, ‘wag po kayong sumama (ang loob) sa aming mangingisda, hirap na hirap po kami, hindi po sapat ang ayuda, malayang pangingisda lang po ang kailangan namin,” he stressed.

(I will say what I really but don’t get offended by us fishermen. We are having a hard time, and government assistance is not enough. What we need is to fish in the area freely.)

The fisherman also asserted that fishing in Scarborough Shoal has helped him previously sustain his family’s needs and provide for his children’s education.

“Mangisda kami, hinarang kami ng BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) sinasabi wala kaming ID. Kumuha kami ng ID ng BFAR sa Pampanga para maging malaya kami. Nung nakakuha kami mangisda kami sa ibang shoreline, China naman ang kalaban namin. San ba talaga kami mangingisda, ang tanong namin sa sarili namin ngayon,” Delos Santos further lamented.


(We are fishermen, but BFAR stopped us because we don’t have any ID. When we got our ID, we were able to fish freely in Pampanga. But on other shoreline, China is the enemy. Where can we freely fish? That’s the question among ourselves.)

“Ang sabi ko sa mga anak ko, hinto muna kayo anak dahil di na kaya ng Papa niyo. Dahil ito po, dinadaan ko na lang po sa luha, dinadaan ko na lang po sa inyo dahil ngayon lang po kayo bumaba, ramdam naman ninyo siguro ang kahirapan namin. Dahil pagdating sa mga buyer maraming huli, kaunti ang benta dahil sa utang,” he added.

(I told my children to stop studying because your Dad can’t do it anymore. Because of this, I’m living in tears. I’m just airing this to you hoping you understand our hardships. Because when it comes to buyers, many are late, sales are low due to debt)

Apart from him, other fisherfolk have their concerns and personal experience dealing with the Chinese Coast Guard’s harassment and bullying in Scarborough Shoal.

Upon hearing their grievances, Zambales 1st District Rep. Jefferson F. Khonghun suggested that BFAR’s budget be increased to help the agency address the needs of the fisherfolk in the province.

He likewise pointed out that BFAR provided 60 to 90 feet of ship for fishermen in Subic, but Leonardo Cuaresma, spokesperson of fisherfolk in Zambales and a member of the New Masinloc Fishermen association, said that they have not received such assistance.

Konghun said the agency might have been fooling the fishermen instead of assisting them.

Earlier, Zambales 2nd District Rep. Doris Maniquiz revealed Zambales fisherfolk experienced a series of water cannon attacks by the CCG last week and in February, respectively.

Based on her description, the vessels attacked by the CCG were used for deep-sea fishing with 25 to 35 fishermen and crew aboard.

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The lawmaker added that the livelihood of around 1,000 fishermen from Masinloc and 400 from Sta. Cruz was affected by the CCG’s presence in the West Philippine Sea.

TAGS: fisherfolk, lawmakers

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