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Masinloc, Zambales fisherfolk press Pangilinan for easy access to capital, credit

PHILIPPINES, January 31 - Press Release January 30, 2022

Masinloc, Zambales fisherfolk press Pangilinan for easy access to capital, credit

MASINLOC, Zambales -- Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan over the weekend visited Masinloc, Zambales to listen to the issues of the fisherfolk in the area.

Asked what their top concerns were, Masinloc fisherfolk said the following would make their life and livelihood less difficult: access to non-usurious credit or capital to fund their daily fishing needs such as fuel and motorized boat maintenance, and health assistance such as maintenance medicines for those hypertension, diabetes, and the like.

Pangilinan told the fisherfolk: "Tungkulin ng gobyerno na alalayan ang mangingisda at magsasaka."

"Mahirap pumalaot. Aalis kami ng alas 3 ng hapon at makakabalik ng 6 ng umaga para magbenta ng huli, kung may nahuli," said Leonardo Cuaresma, president of the Federation of Fisherfolk Associations of Masinloc and Zambales.

The fisherfolk said they need access to sources of capital to help their livelihood.

"Ayaw naming umutang ng 5-6. Sa 5-6, kapag may kita kang 500 pesos at may utang kang 500 pesos na dapat bayaran, kahit nakabayad ka na ng 500 pesos, may natitira ka pa ring utang," Cuaresma said.

"Suma total, wala kang kita sa pagpalaot mo," Cuaresma added.

Unscrupulous money-lenders confiscate their electric fans or other appliances if they were unable to pay on time, the fisherfolk said.

The Masinloc fisherfolk said they are seeking financial assistance or low-interest credit so that they would not be forced to borrow from loan sharks.

Currently, a loan amounting to P10,000 must be paid P12,000, which includes the interest.

"Six percent per month ang interest ng utang namin," one fisherman said.

With most of them ageing, the Masinloc fisherfolk pressed Pangilinan for health and medical assistance and disability benefits.

Hypertension and diabetes are a common health problem of the Masinloc fisherfolk.

Edgardo Montero said he is not taking his maintenance medications for hypertension regularly due to lack of money.

Cuaresma narrated how middlemen take advantage of them.

"Binibili sa amin P80 per kilo ng pusit (sa aplaya). Pag dating sa Masinloc ay P150 per kilo na. May mga bumibili dun na dayo. Sila ang nasusunod (sa diktang presyo). Pag dagsa ang pusit mas mura po. Pag konti ang huli binibili nila ng 100," Cuaresma said.

The Masinloc fisherfolk said big-time traders or buyers do not want to cooperate with them in their plan to sell to the highest bidder.

"Doon nga kami nahihirapan. Iyong mahirap nananatiling mahirap. Iyong malaki lalong lumalaki," Cuaresma said.

Pangilinan said local government units can buy directly from fisherfolk for their food requirements in institutions such as jails and hospitals.

"Makakatipid ang gobyerno at tataas ang kita ng mga mangingisda," Pangilinan said.

"Pumapalaot din kami para may makain ang pamilya. Bawat palaot namin nakaka 400 pesos sa krudo," Cuaresma said.

"Hinihiling po naming na bigyan kami ng assistance ng gobyerno na hindi na kami makiki-bangka at di na kami mangungutang. Bigyan kami ng alalay sa health concerns," Cuaresma added.

"Kung ang bili ng middleman ng P80, at P150 naman ang benta nila sa palengke pwedeng bilhin ng gobyerno ng P120 direkta sa mangingisda. Nadagdagan na ng P40 kada kilo ang kita ng mangingisda habang nakatipid naman ng P30 kada kilo ang gobyerno," Pangilinan said.