ISABEL, Leyte, March 23, 2016 – Some 30 fishermen from the coastal communities of Merida, Palompon in this town received on Feb. 18 fishing implements through the Center for Agrarian Reform Empowerment and Transformation, Inc., a Quezon City-based NGO funded by the Chinese Embassy in Manila.
During a simple ceremony at the Isabel covered court last Friday morning, Mayor Gregorio Cerillo said the assistance came at a time when the communities are slowly but surely recovering from the onslaught of typhoon Haiyan nearly three years ago.
CARET’s executive director Ferdinand Buenviaje said fishermen have encountered dwindling fish catch due to illegal fishing and encroachment of commerical fishers in the municipal waters which are supposedly for subsistence fishermen.
‘Good friends, neighbors’
Buenviaje said even after a year after the super typhoon’s impact on Eastern Visayas, fishermen have resorted to renting out their boats or have started working for commercial boat owners as fish workers receiving meager pay.
The Chinese Embassy’s First Secretary and Director for Political Section YU Jun said they have extended “a humble contribution to the improvement of the residents’ livelihood” in the typhoon affected areas of Merida, Palompon and this bustling community of over 45,000 people.
He added his embassy has been dedicated to the well-being of the Filipino people for a long time.
“For thousands of years, China and the Philippines have been good friends and neighbors,” he added.
He quoted an ancient Chinese saying that “a close neighbor is better than a distant relative.”
The embassy official added “it is one’s moral responsibility to help out a friend in need.” He recalled the Chinese government provided some Php4.7 million emergency cash assistance and some Php140 million worth of construction materials that could build some 540 prefabricated houses.
Millions in relief
At the height of the relief and rehabilitation efforts, the Chinese government also deliverd Php70.5 million worth of food, tents, and relief goods transported by chartered planes in addition to the dispatch of its medical ship known as The Peace Ark to Tacloban to attend to patients in need of surgery and other medical attention.
Yu said last September, he and Ambassador Zhao Jianhua visited Tacloban and its environs, pledging Php1 million for the rehabilitation of a damaged elementary school, as well as Cali and Tagpuro to check on residents in transitional homes.
“We brought Php1.6 million worth of relief items, including emergency lamps. The children received basketballs and volleyballs from Ambassador Zhao,” he recalled.
He said they noticed some families have not fully recovered and in continue to be in need of fishing boats and gear for livelihood.
“We decided to [add] an additional Php1.5 million donation and worked with CARET and local government units to utilize the donation to the fullest.”
Thirty boats were turned over to the beneficiaries from the three adjoining towns.
Local fishermen can now also avail of various training activities with the collective hope of improving the lives of nearly 8,000 residents in the area.
He said the contribution cannot fully meet the actual need however, “it is a reflection of the profound friendship among the Chinese people for the Filipinos” which would be stronger over the years. (Melo M. Acuña / CBCP News)