Side by side its focus on climate change, the AKO Bicol Partylist remains steadfast in its commitment to serve the impoverished.
AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe ensured this through a consultation when asked about the programs he and his partylist will implement if and when they successfully clinch a third term.
He says the partylist will start off the term with the national coastal greening program, most specifically, the planting of mangroves in the island or coastal areas. Though there is an existing DENR program for the planting of plants for mangroves and aquatic plants in the country, it has never been institutionalized through the passage of appropriate legislation, an inadequacy he aims to swiftly address in the next Congress.
One of the benefits of this coastal greening program is the creation of new sanctuaries for fishes, since the fish population has drastically diminished due to overfishing and illegal fishing. As additional benefits, seaside and city communities can avoid flooding and the warming of the seas, two benefits which undoubtedly will benefit the environment. It will also aid seaside and coastal communities by creating jobs for the maintenance of such coastal greenbelts.
Another program the partylist wishes to zero in is the Rural Employment Program which aims to focus on our farmers and fishers, to ensure the steady flow of income and additional business for these farmers and fishermen, especially for the 45 days where such farmers and fishermen have nothing to do because of the seasonal nature of their occupations.
Bicol, primarily an agricultural region because of the abundance of natural resources in the area, will benefit from the employment program especially since most of Bicolano farmers are in the low-income range; hence, there is a need for a comprehensive agricultural program where farmers and their kin can participate.
The partylist also noticed that only farmers aged 57 and over comprise the agricultural workforce in Bicol, which is concerning, since there might come a day where there are virtually no farmers left to till the lands. In light of the situation, the partylist teamed up with the Department of Agriculture for a program where students of the Emilio Espinosa College of Art and Technology were given five hectares each to cultivate, while the Department of Agriculture provides the necessary equipment and machinery to help develop the lands. Through this, Batocabe hopes the Bicolano youth will take pride and revel in the potential of agriculture.
AKO Bicol also noticed the plight of diminishing income for agribusiness owners, so it plans to embark on a project with the DA where agricultural products are directly brought to the market, with the agribusiness owners getting the full profit. Batocabe says he wants a holistic approach to all sectors where each of them organically functions and helps the other.
His only wish is that the Bicolanos again place their trust in him to be able to legislate and implement these measures for the good of not only the Bicol Region but the entire Philippines as well.
AKO Bicol is vying for another term in Congress in the coming May elections, where it is number 16 in the ballot.