If he is elected, Mar Roxas says he will take concrete steps to modernize the country’s fisheries system.

Roxas shared his plans during the first Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Presidential Debate held on February 21 in Cagayan de Oro City.

The first thing he would address would be the reduction of interest rates on loans so fishermen would be able to take home more of their hard-earned cash.

“Nauubos ang kanilang capital, ang kanilang kinikita, sa kakabayad ng interest at amortisasyon sa kanilang inuutang,” he said. “Hindi pa nga sila nagpapalaot, iniutang na nila ang kanilang huhulihin.  Kaya ang murang pautang ang isa sa pinakasusi para sa kanilang kaginhawahan.”

Next on Roxas’ agenda is the use of modern tools in fishing to achieve a more efficient harvest. One of his concrete proposals, which he introduced and is now being utilized by fishermen in Dagupan, Pagasinan, is the fish finders, which utilizes global positioning satellite (GPS) technology to increase fishermen’s catch, cutting operational costs and increasing their incomes. This was funded by the Aquino Administration’s Bottom-up Budgeting (BUB) program.

“Hindi naaaksaya ang kanilang panahon at pera sa kakabili ng gasolina, derekta sila kung saan yung mga isda nahuhuli nila ito balik sariwa pa naibebenta nila sa magandang presyo,” Roxas explained.

Roxas also put emphasis on the construction of post-catch facilities like chillers and refrigerated vans, which would maintain the freshness of fishermen’s catch.

“Post-catch facilities, ito ‘yung mga chiller, ito ‘yung mga packaging na mahalaga para mas mataas ang kikitain nila kumpara sa kinikita nila ngayon,” he said. “Sa ngayon limitado ang kanilang kita dahil nabubulok ang kanilang isda. ‘Pag nagkaroon ng mga post-catch facilities tulad ng mga chiller, tulad ng mga [refrigerated] vans, dadalhin ang kanilang huli sa mga pamilihan, gaganda ang kanilang kita.”

This would be complemented by the implementation of more infrastructure projects so fishermen would be able to bring their harvest to markets.

This is all part of the “Daang Matuwid Bukid Revolution,” which will maximize the potential of the Philippines’ agriculture and fisheries sectors to achieve maximum inclusive growth.

“That is our ‘Bukid Revolution,’ which would lead to improved earnings for our small farmers and fishermen,” Roxas said in his speech during his campaign’s official kick-off last February 9. “No one should be left behind in our march to a brighter future.”