Secretary Baldoz herself flew to General Santos City, together with Undersecretary Rebecca Chato, to lead the fishermen in inaugurating the project and in witnessing the christening of the fishing boats at the Passionate Retreat Center in Labo Beach, Brgy. Bawing, Gen. Santos City.
“We have come full circle towards ensuring your future. On 10 March, I joined you when I awarded the P2.04 million grant for your project. Today, we see each other again to see your hand line fishing project moving forward,” Baldoz told the group of 148 worker-fishermen belonging to the United Workers of Citra Mina Group of Companies Union (UWCMGCU) and affiliated with the Alliance of Progressive Labor-SENTRO.
The UWCMGC was represented by Romulo Dumalag, Jr. who, together with union worker-and officers Nonoy Valbuena, Bibiana Gorgonio, Virgil Demotillo, and Rosanna Doroy, all took turns thanking the DOLE and Secretary Baldoz for the livelihood assistance.
In her remarks during the inauguration ceremony, Baldoz recalled that her first meeting with the displaced fishermen was clouded by tension and conflict, but this second meeting was already different.
“We meet today in a more hopeful and celebratory mood because this livelihood project is the reward for your trials, a victory over past tests brought by your sad experience with the Citra Mina Group of Companies,” she said.
The APL-SOCCKSARGEN served as the Accredited Co-Partner of the project. APL itself was represented in the event by Secretary General Joshua Mata.
Mata informed Sec. Baldoz that the fishermen’s three mother boats will carry/tow the ‘pakura’ or small boats that will serve as auxiliary boats in catching tuna. The fishermen’s catch will be delivered to three major buyers—the canneries, the processors/exporters, and consumers in the local market.
He also informed the Secretary that the fishing boats will not just be for livelihood. “The concept was for these boats to also serve as training boats so thatmany more fishermen will benefit from the project,” Baldoz said.
Hand line fishing uses the traditional hook and line method and is considered one of the best means to catch large tuna and other big fishes. The method is eco-friendly as hand line fishers catch only mature fish, thus protecting the marine resource environment.
The project is expected to earn gross sales of P1,000,000 every fishing trip of one to two months, and the sharing scheme will be under a socialized system. The fishermen’s share in the project’s income will automatically reflect deductions for their SSS, Philhealth, and Pag-Ibig premium payments.
Baldoz assured the fishermen’s of the DOLE’s continued support, including technical assistance on business management, productivity and innovation, and occupational safety and health; and monitoring, and coordination with its convergence partners, namely, Department of Trade and Industry for marketing and packaging; Department of Agriculture and its agencies, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. MARINA, and Philippine Coast Guard; Department of Science and Technology; Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for skills training, certification, and assessment; and local government units through the Department of Interior and Local Government.
“Our memorandum of agreement with these agencies on technology-based and resource-based sustainable livelihood will make it very easy for you to manage the project. Please continue to work and cooperate with our regional office. I want you to be a model in sustainable livelihood development in the fishing industry in General Santos City,” Baldoz said.
In a light note, she also said in jest she might get into trouble with the Bureau of Internal Revenue because the fishermen named one of the fishing boats after her, or F/B Queen Rosalinda, and named the other two after Usec. Chato and Regional Director Domingo, F/B Queen Rebecca, and F/B Queen Ofelia.
Joining Secretary Baldoz in the event are Undersecretary Rebecca Chato, Regional Director Domingo, Mon de Leon, TESDA commissioner; Sis. Susan Bolano, Oblates of Notre Dame Hesed Foundation; Fr. Rey Ondac; Secretary General Mata; and Hidayat Greenfield, Acting Secretary General, International Union Federation for Asia and the Pacific, all of whom delivered messages.