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Tacloban Fisherfolk Agenda Meeting

The 2016 elections is fast approaching and just like in the past, we have runningcandidates from well-off families, a combination of the old and the new, the familiar and unfamiliar.In Tacloban City, the same people from the usual competing political clans, but only running for different elective positions filed their respective candidacies for the 2016 elections. Councilor Cristina Romualdez, the wife of the current mayor, Hon. Mayor Alfred Romualdez, took her bid for the mayoralty post against Councilor Neil Glova. She has no running mate, as incumbent Vice Mayor Zambo Yaokasin is going for re-election as an independent. Councilor Neil Glova also has no vice mayoralty bet.

Just about three months before the upcoming election, another set of promises and proposals will be made by any running candidate during the election campaign. It is like a marketing process, in which they present themselves as products, differentiate themselves from the other products and make proposals on how they will perform if they get the job. This is why campaign promises are such an important part of the election process, especially if they revolve around issues that divide a population or create emotional interest. With these, NGOs for Fisheries Reform, Inc. initiated a Fisherfolk Agenda meeting last February 15, 2016 at Ritz Tower de Leyte, Tacloban City as part of the policy advocacy programs. Around 30 participants, mostly fisherfolks and barangay leaders, fisherfolk associations and stakeholders actively participated the activity with the core purpose of formulating and developing fisherfolk agenda or programs as well as to solicit recommendations and support from municipal fishery sector. Subsequently, the creation of these fisherfolk agenda will lead to a bay-wide fisherfolk forum some time in April together with the presence ofTacloban Cityelectoral candidates in which these agenda and programs will be presented and thoroughly discussed,resulting to a social contract including what they would do to improve lives of the municipal fisher folks after being elected.

Meanwhile, the fisherfolk agenda meeting primarily revolved on the undying issues of livelihood in relation to their proposal of one (1) year closed season of Cancabato Bay. Rural Improvement Club (RIC), an organized women fisherfolk organization pointed out the need for resourceful and efficient alternative livelihoods such as mussel & oyster culture, center house and drying technologies for fish drying, capital for peddling (e.g. sari sari store) and food vending as alternative sources of income.In line with theproposed one year closed season of Cancabato Bay, a demand for a 40-footer fishing boat in every three (3) families which will be used for their fishing activities in Leyte Gulf once the proposed closed season is approved. Moreover, general debris clearing and retrieval operation will go along simultaneously with mangrove, sea grass, and coral rehabilitation. Issues on fisherfolk settlement, tide embankment, demolition of comfort rooms along the coast, boat landing and capacitating Bantay Dagat were also stressed out. Before the end of the meeting, Mr. Losanto Castillo, Jr., President of Tacloban Fisherfolk Urban Association (TFUA) highlighted out the event as stepping-stone on achieving the unfulfilled rights and welfares that they deserve. He also shared his appreciation to all his colleagues for actively partakingin the formulation of the fisherfolk agenda andasked to remain participative, persistent and hopeful in the next upcoming events.


Article written by Mr. Christian Salamida





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