Mati fishermen want more help from PH leaders

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 14 2021 07:30 PM | Updated as of Dec 14 2021 10:50 PM

Fishermen in Mati Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News
Fishermen in Mati, Davao Oriental express hope, in an interview on Dec. 14, 2021, that the country’s political leaders will also attend to their needs. Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

MATI, Davao Oriental (UPDATE) - Fishermen from this coastal town in the southwestern portion of Mindanao want national leaders to also attend to their needs, expressing anew their hopes for better lives as the country is set to elect new officials in five months.

ABS-CBN News chanced upon Allan Vicente, 51, Jimmer Mamoro, 27, and Rosalino Pideros, 35, repairing a fishing boat in Barangay Bubon, just more than a kilometer away from the kick-off point of Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s scheduled motorcade in this town, Tuesday.

Pacquiao, just like other 2022 presidential aspirants, has been visiting various areas in the country to touch base with different sectors even as the official campaign period for national position candidates will only formally open on Feb. 8 next year.

"Hindi na namin pinapansin yan… Pangako nang pangako,” Vicente, a father of three, said when asked how he views candidates who usually make campaign promises to the people.

(We don't pay attention to them anymore... They just keep making promises.)

“Kasi kung umasa kayo diyan sa mga pangako, wala namang mangyari diyan... Kung aasahan mo yung mga pangako, hindi naman 'yan dadating,” he said.

(Because if we rely on their promises, nothing will come out of it... Those promises don't get fulfilled.)

Vicente, who acknowledges the importance of his vote, admitted he is frustrated with politicians who fail to fulfill their campaign promises.

Allan Vicente, 51, a fisherman in Mati
Allan Vicente, 51, a fisherman in Mati, Davao Oriental, speaks to ABS-CBN News on Dec. 14, 2021 regarding their expectations from political leaders as the country's next elections near. Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

He shared that these days, he tells himself to just continue striving for his family, and not to expect political leaders to really help fisherfolk like him.

“Habang may buhay, kayod ka lang nang kayod… Sariling kayod,” said Vicente.

(As long as we're still alive, we just keep working hard... on our own.)

Vicente, Mamoro and Pideros, who live in a community of 27 fishermen, were fixing their boat before the interview, saying they were using their free time for it as they expect rough seas due to an approaching storm.

Vicente said he has accepted bribe money from supporters or emissaries of candidates during elections, citing their difficult way of life, but he still votes his preferred bets.

While he hopes for fishermen like him to be given regular allowance or aid by the government, Vicente also dreams for his daughter--a business administration graduate--to get a job.

Meanwhile, unlike Vicente, Pideros said he always casts his vote hoping that there will be leaders who will finally deliver on their campaign promises.

“Pag makaupo na sila, tuparin lang nila yung mga pangako nila. Huwag lang salita nang salita, pagdating ng panahon, walang magawa,” Pideros said.

(Once they assume office, they should fulfill their promises.)

Fishermen like him, Pideros said, are hoping that more attention from the next leaders of the country will help them improve their lives.

“Katulad nito, may darating na bagyo, wala kaming mahanap na ano, kasi malakas yung alon sa dagat. Wala kaming mabili (pambili) sa bahay, kasi hindi kami makalaot,” he said.

(Just like now, when a storm is approaching, we cannot go fishing because of big waves. So, we can't buy what we need at home.)

Newly married Mamoro, for his part, said he will continue to vote “according to what my heart says.”

"Gusto ko pantay-pantay lang (sa botohan)," he said.

(We are all equal during elections.)

Mamoro said he became a fisherman after getting used to it thanks to his experience assisting his father. He finished high school and really wants to embark on farming once he gets enough financial capital.

A fisherman’s income is very limited, and their living conditions get worse during a typhoon because there is nothing to earn or sell, Mamoro lamented.

He remains hopeful that the Philippines will improve as long as voters pick the right candidates.

“Naniniwala ako na may pag-asa, basta matutupad yung mga pangarap ng gobyerno,” Mamoro said.

(I believe there is hope, that the government can achieve its goals.)

As a voter, he said he is interested in the campaign promises of two (presidential) aspirants who have said that they are going to help the poor. 

“Gusto ko yung mabuti na paraan na pamumuhay… Mabuhay ng maayos," he said of his wish for his future children.

(I want them to live good lives.)

Relevant to that is his request from candidates: “Gusto ko lang matupad nila yung pangako nila sa tao.”

(I want them to fulfill their promises to the people).

The country will hold its next national and local elections on May 9, 2022.

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