PROMDI presidential candidate Sen. Manny Pacquiao said Wednesday the Philippines should be a fish exporter, not importer, after the agriculture department announced it will import 60,000 metric tons of pelagic fish to address a shortage.
Pacquiao said the admission of Agriculture Sec. William Dar that the country is facing fish shortage shows the government’s inability to optimize the country’s rich aquatic resource.
“This is unbelievable. Saan ka naman nakakita ng bansang napapaligiran ng mga dagat pero nag-iimport ng mga produktong galing sa dagat?" said Pacquiao, who hails from General Santos City, the country's tuna capital.
"Sobrang kawawa na nga ang ating mga magsasaka dahil sa pagpasok ng napakaraming imported at smuggled na mga bigas at gulay, tapos ngayon naman ang mga mangingisda naman natin ang gustong parusahan,” he added.
(Where do you see a country surrounded by seas that imports fish products? Our farmers are still reeling from the effects of imported and smuggled rice, and now it's the fishermen's turn to experience such ordeal.)
Pacquiao said the DA should protect the interest of Filipino farmers and fisherfolk. But the government, he lamented, is not doing anything to improve the country’s fishing industry.
The presidential aspirant noted that the Philippines is an archipelagic nation and is regarded to have the world’s 5th longest coastlines, which make it ideal for fishing and aquatic farming.
This advantage of the Philippines could make it one of the world’s leading providers of marine and other aquatic products if only the government harnesses the country’s full potential as a fisheries hub.
“Dapat tayo ang nag-eexport ng mga isda lalung-lalong na yang mga isdang gaya ng galunggong at makerel dahil marami niyan sa Pilipinas. Paano nangyari na tayo ngayon ang nag-iimport samantalang napakaraming Pilipino ang mangingisda?” Pacquiao said.
(We should be the one exporting fish especially galunggong and makerel, because there is lots of them in the Philippines. How did it happen that we become importers despite the huge number of fishermen in our country?)
Pacquiao questioned the DA's approval of the importation of 60,000 MT of fish for the first quarter supposedly to ensure sufficient supply in the country despite the pronouncement of the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (NFARMC) that the country has enough fish supply.
FROM THE ARCHIVES