By Lalaine M. Jimenea
POLITICAL WILL and a genuine concern for the people. These are the two ingredients that have brought two entities from Leyte Province to Malacañang to receive their national awards from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte himself.
Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan Awards
On April 5, the LGU-Palompon added another feather to its cap after it was called to receive the 1st runner-up trophy to the Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan (MMK) Awards of the Department of Agriculture. This is the second time Palompon got the award.The National Grand Winner this year was Lagundingan, Misamis Oriental, and the second runner-up, Claverria, Cagayan.
Last year, they went home with P 8-million for the national citation, and another P 2-million as regional awardee. This year, DA has upped the awards and Palompon went home with P 18-million in cash prize, aside from another P 2-million as regional awardee.
Palompon Mayor Ramon Oñate and Vice Mayor Georgina Arevalo received the award from Pres. Duterte and Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol. They were accompanied to the stage by a visible elated and proud Leyte governor Dominico Leopoldo Petilla.
Mayor Ramon Oñate said they received the award this year for their “Bantay Danggit” program. Danggit is a fish of the Siganid species which is a favorite breakfast fare of Filipinos. It is abundant in the municipal waters of Palompon and dried danggit is a thriving cottage industry in the town. He said they were awarded for their “valor in declaring an off-fishing season,” and introducing sustainable policies in pursuing their fishery management program, aside from inculcating a culture of “responsibility in protecting our seas.”
Mayor Ramon Oñate said they received the award this year for their “Bantay Danggit” program. Danggit is a fish of the Siganid species which is a favorite breakfast fare of Filipinos. It is abundant in the municipal waters of Palompon and dried danggit is a thriving cottage industry in the town.
He said they were awarded for their “valor in declaring an off-fishing season,” and introducing sustainable policies in pursuing their fishery management program, aside from inculcating a culture of “responsibility in protecting our seas.”
The Mayor, an award go-getter in his long career, believes in exercising political will. In the case of their “Bantay Danggit” program, to ensure an ample supply of the fish, they have declared an off season for fishing during its spawning period.
“The objective of Bantay Danggit is to ensure the sustainable production of supply of Siganid (Danggit ) Species thru strategic community-based conservation. The idea is to let the Danggit spawn during their peak spawning season that occur on the 3rd-5th nights of the new moon during the months of February, March and April every year. During these dates, there is a mandatory order to open all fish corrals (bungsod) from 6PM-6AM to ensure that the spawning danggit will not be caught. During these periods NGOs, PO, Academes and personnel from LGU will patrol the coastal waters of Palompon to make sure that the Close Season Ordinance is properly implemented,” said the mayor in a Facebook conversation.
Raoul Bacalla, the town’s municipal environment off icer whose office takes the lead in the implementation, said that the program has been implemented since 1997, yet, under Oñate’s second term. Oñate is now on his 6th term as undefeated Palompon mayor.
Bacalla said that there were resistance to the implementation at the start but the sustained implementation has worn it down, plus the fact that the fishermen began to realize the program worked after all. The 3-day “closed season” per spawning months has brought the danggit population back, and they were increasing their catch.
Outstanding Barangay Food Terminal (BFT) Operations (Non-LGU Category)
On the other hand, a small cooperative in Merida, Leyte romped away with the Gawad Saka award for Outstanding BFT Operations (Non-LGU category), for their innovative program in providing their members strategically located “bagsakan” in the barangays for their farm and fish produce.
The Benabaye Primary Multi-purpose Cooperative (BENAPRIMCO), with about 4,000 members and a net worth of P 34-million in 2017, romped away the citation and a cash prize of P 350,000.00.
Manager Jovita Conales was accompanied by Merida Mayor Marthon Solaña and Leyte Governor Petilla when she received the award from Pres. Roa and Secretary Piñol. In the audience was Wenito Jorge, the BENAPRIMCO founding chairman.
The principle behind BENAPRIMCO’s “bagsakan” project is simple. It is to provide members a simple avenue to earn from home-based endeavors.
The cooperative has a big grocery store in town proper where members can sell their products. But for those in far-flung barangays, they don’t have to go far because there is a “bagsakan” nearby, or a store in the neighborhood where the members can sell their produce immediately.
Jovita Conales said this was their solution to the complaints of members that they do not earn from their home-based endeavors like backyard gardens because they cannot sell it.
She said BENAPRIMCO members are trained to be productive people, and they encourage and fund self-help endeavors like backyard farming, piggery and poultryraising, even composting, and making of dishwashing liquid.
However, she said, because these were very smallscale endeavors, oftentimes it is not profitable for members to bring their produce to town. “Sometimes, maubos na lang og pangayo sa mga silingan,” said Conales in a previous interview.
Conales said their members, mostly barrio folks in Merida, are hard up. They cannot eat up all their backyard garden produce, and needs cash for other needs. By bringing the “bagsakan” near them, they can sell their products even if it was just one squash or one upo, to the cooperative store and have cash immediately. The produce, in turn, are sold by the store or sent to town, if there is more than enough.
In a town where P 20.00 is already significant, the simple, yet effective pro-poor program of the BENAPRIMCO has apparently caught the hearts and minds of the Gawad Saka evaluators that it bagged the national awards.
BENAPRIMCO’s services, on the other hand, include operating an ATM machine, selling marinated bangus as a adding value for their cooperative fish cage produce, and providing credit and financing to members of good standing.
They also handle Conales added that they are also lucky that people in Merida, Isabel town, and Ormoc believe in cooperativism, and the award is a welcome development for them, as they recover from the effects of Yolanda on their operations.