By TENG L. DATU
Cotabato City Bureau Chief .
Maluso, Basilan — Abdulham Mohammad, 48, remembers the good old days of the fishing industry of Maluso town in Basilan.
“Noon, pusit lang ang hinuhuli ko, kumikita ako ng P500-P5,000 kada araw,” he said, adding that most fishermen would not even reach the market since barter was already being done along the way.
“Hindi na namin kaila-ngan magpunta ng palengke dahil sinasalubong nanila kami noon para makipag barter,” he recalled.
But commercial fishing vessels have encroached on their fishing grounds.
“Nagsimula ang pro-blema dito sa amin noong unti-unting pumasok ang mga vessels sa municipal waters kung saan nananagat ang mga small-time fishermen,” he said.
“Dahil malalaki ang gamit nila, talo ang mga maliliit hanggang sa nalulugi sila at unti-unting binebenta ang mga kabu-hayan nila,” he added.
Mohammad, however, said the Armm government stepped in, helping their community by providing fishing supplies, including boats and fishing nets.
“Ngayon, unti-unti nang nanunumbalik ang sigla ng pangingisda dahil suportado ng Armm ang aming kabuhayan,” he said.
“Ngayong nagtatra-baho na ako sa munisipyo, nakikita ko ang efforts ng ating gobyerno para sa Maluso,” he said.
Armm Governor Mujiv Hataman said “historically, Maluso (is) a fishing port.”
“Lahat ng isda papuntang Zamboanga at Isabela (in Basilan) ay nagmumula sa Maluso,” he said.
Hataman vowed that his administration will intensify its efforts in protecting the local fisherfolk.
Maluso Mayor Hanie Bud said he was also thankful that President Rodrigo Duterte heeded their request that the town’s municipal waters be made exclusive to local fishers.
“Dahil don bumalik sa pangingisda ang mga tao,” the mayor said.
Mohammad was also grateful to the president.
“Mula noong nagbigay ng ultimatum si President, halos nakakabangon na ulit ang small-scale fisherfolk dahil sabi niya paparusahan ang malalaking vessels na papasok sa municipal waters,” Mohammad said.
The Armm government, through its flagship program Health, Education, Livelihood, Peace and Governance, and Synergy, earlier this month turned over some P2-million worth of boat and fishing supplies to the fisherfolk cooperative in Barangay Lower Port Holland in Maluso.
But Mohammad said aside from efforts to help the fisherfolk, the Armm governor has also announced his administration’s plan to help rubber farmers by building a processing center.
The former fisherman is also excited about the other projects, which include road-widening, cold storage facilities, and processing plants, in store for Maluso this year. (with the reports from bpi armm)