Sarangani Gov. Pacquiao vows to fight poverty

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 5 July) – Newly elected Sarangani Governor Rogelio Pacquiao has vowed to fight poverty in the province which has been listed as among the country’s poorest.

Sarangani Gov. Rogelio Pacquiao meets provincial workers at the capitol. Photo courtesy of the Provincial Information Office.

The governor, younger brother of boxing idol and defeated presidential candidate Manny Pacquiao, considers poverty as the biggest challenge confronting his administration.

“I will courageously face the monster of poverty in Sarangani Province,” remarked Pacquiao who had served two terms as representative of the province’s lone congressional district before seeking the gubernatorial post in the May 9 polls.

Erstwhile governor Steve Solon, a partymate of Pacquiao who served a complete term of nine years, took Pacquiao’s former post and is now Sarangani’s congressman.

For years, government agencies and non-government organizations have tagged Sarangani as among provinces in the country with the highest incidence of poverty.

Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) 2021 records show that poverty incidence in Sarangani was at 42.1 percent.

The anti-poverty movement Zero Extreme Poverty PH 2030 (ZEP) cited in its website that Sarangani is among the top 10 poorest provinces in the Philippines with 36 percent of families in the province considered as poor.

ZEP noted that around 31 percent of Sarangani’s poor families “do not have proper water piping and well protection, which limits their access to safe potable water.”

A ZEP-United Nations Development Program COVID Pulse PH Survey in the first quarter of 2021 showed that seven out of 10 respondents in Sarangani expressed that their income worsened compared to the previous year, while 49 percent have lost their jobs or were forced to close down their businesses.

A common scene during crop harvest in the hinterlands of poverty-stricken Sarangani. An ethnic Blaan family slaughters a pig to be sold (barter) in the neighborhood. MindaNews photo by ROMMEL G. REBOLLIDO

Pacquiao said that “armed with this commitment to improve the lives of the Sarangans, I am excited and eager to lead the province guided by our governance directions, that is to bring public service closer to the people.”

He said with his “considerable legislative accomplishments” as congressman, he was also able to bring to Sarangani “an estimated total of P17 billion worth of various infrastructure projects and P600 million worth of health and social welfare services, education assistance and support to peace and development.”

Pacquiao attended on Monday, July 4, the flag raising rites at the Sarangani provincial capitol, his first time as governor, where he sought the help of employees in delivering “genuine public service.”

He also thanked those who voted for him during the elections and reminded everyone about their respective roles with the famous words of the late American president John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” (Rommel G. Rebollido / MindaNews)