BORACAY ISLAND, AKLAN, FEB. 16 — Vice presidential candidate Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Wednesday said affordable and quality food will entice more tourists to visit Boracay Island and help sustain businesses and livelihood of the people.
Pangilinan said this is possible if government will bolster support to farmers and fishers to improve their catch and production.
“Mahalaga ang isda, pagkain lalo na sa tourism area. Masarap ang pagkain ng Pilipino pero bakit hindi kayang bilhin?” he said in a visit to the island, dubbed as one of the world’s best beaches.
“Hindi binibigyan ng importansya ang magsasaka, kaya kulang ang suplay, mahal ang presyo ng pagkain. Kaya ang ating panawagan, ‘Hello pagkain, goodbye gutom’,” Pangilinan added.
Majority of the farmers and fishers in Aklan province are marketing their produce to Boracay, which has since welcomed tourists anew after months in lockdown due to Covid-19.
Pangilinan said farmers need significant intervention to help them cope with natural disasters and rising prices of commodities they need in production and transportation such as oil.
At the Senate, he has consistently pushed to provide farmers subsidy to ease the impact of oil price spikes. He also proposed a crop insurance program to shield them from the ravages of calamities.
Pangilinan also wants the establishment of agricultural pension for farmers and fisherfolk to provide them substantial and reliable source of income security and retirement benefits.
The people in the fringes of society (laylayan) will get priority if the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem makes it in the May elections, the senator said.
Pangilinan compared the Philippine society to a basket or bayong that is already too burdened and heavy that lifting it up from the top may no longer work.
“Parang bayong na ginagamit natin sa pamamalengke, mabigat at puno na, kaya hindi natin pwedeng bitbitin sa itaas dahil masisira lang. Ano’ng dapat gawin, saluhin natin mula sa ilalim, doon natin buhatin,” he said.
Social media lies
Pangilinan also called on social media users to be more discerning especially as the campaign period heats up.
He warned of lies and fakes spreading in various social media platforms that could sway voters’ beliefs.
He said netizens should verify what they see and should look at the track record of the candidates.
“Kung alam natin ang totoo, guguho ang kasinungalingan sa social media,” he said.
On the light side, Pangilinan said Boracay was memorable for him as it was during his visit in the island in March 1994 for a conference when actress Sharon Cuneta first sent a message that she misses him.
“After 10 days, kami na. Ang hangin sa Boracay, may magic,” he said.