For Barry Sumpio, a former overseas Filipino worker (OFW), seeing the struggles of people amidst the pandemic was a trigger that made him decide to pursue public service as a passion.
“Wala talaga sa plano ko[ng sumabak sa pulitiko]. Pero noong pumutok itong pandemic, I was already here in Puerto Princesa. Marami akong na-observe na talagang naghirap [dahil sa pandemiya]. Nakatulong man ako sa mga Filipino abroad, naisip kong bakit naman dito, kung saan talaga ako nagmula,” he said.
Barry has thrown his hat into the ring as a City Councilor candidate under the ticket of mayoralty bet Peter “Jimbo” Maristela.
In his interview on The Profile, Sumpio talked about bringing his nearly two-decade-long experience in the Middle East as a human resources practitioner to his newfound political career.
With his human resources background, Sumpio also worked in the Middle East as a leader of the Filipino community there, specializing in giving assistance to workers experiencing abuse or mistreatment in the Middle East. He said that he decided that it was time he brought his experience abroad and tailor it to the needs of Puerto Princesa City residents.
“Noong ako ay inimbita ng aking mga kaibigan to take part and somehow try to serve the people of Puerto Princesa, na-convince naman ako tumakbo,” he added.
Platforms and goals
Sumpio has figured out his policy agenda should he win a seat in the city council in 2022. On health, he said that he will be supporting his mayoral candidate, Jimbo Maristela, in a bid to create a Puerto Princesa City general hospital.
For agriculture, Sumpio said he will push for a system where each rural barangay will have a flagship product made from their agricultural resources. He also vowed to address issues in the even distribution of pesticides, saying that many farmers in Puerto Princesa are shortchanged because of an unfair system.
“May mga pestidiyo na nandyan sa siyudad, pero expired na, kasi hindi ibinbigay sa mga tao. Ito ay napupunta lamang sa mga tao na gusto nilang bigyan. Hindi fair, pinipili lang ang mga tao na gusto nilang bigyan,” he said.
Sumpio also promised to address the concerns of local fishing communities, particularly with the prohibition of setting up “baklad,” or fish pens. He believes that the current administration has been insensitive to the needs of fishing communities by dismantling fish pens. He added that this issue, along with the conversation on the tricycle ban on national roads, is close to his heart.
“May mga polisiya dito sa Puerto Princesa na pinagbabawalan silang kumita ng pera, mamasada sa daan ang mga tricycle drivers. Ang mga mangingisda, bawal silang magbaklad. Masakit ‘yon sa part ko, sapagka’t ang aking ama ay minsan ding maging tricycle at mangingisda,” he said.
He also promised to prioritize initiatives that will attract more businesses in the city, as part of a pandemic recovery plan.
He also believes that for starters, he can invite prominent business figures from the Middle East to urge them to invest in tourism projects.
For education, he vowed to create more scholarship opportunities for students living in disadvantaged areas, including medical scholarships.
Criticism on corruption, vows integrity
Sumpio criticized the current administration and its previous projects, claiming that there have been plenty that has been derailed by corruption.
“Alam naman natin that there are projects here na well-funded, pero exactly napupunta sa project, maraming cut. Kakalabanin natin ang corruption dito,” he said.
When asked about how he will tackle issues of corruption in the local government, Sumpio said that as the son of a longtime government official and former military personnel, he has learned the value of integrity.
“For me, money isn’t everything. Iba kasi ang joy na hindi napapalitan ng pera. Marami na akong opportunities na magnakaw noong ako ay nasa Middle East. Pero hindi. Balik tayo doon sa kung paano kami pinalaki ng aming mga magulang,” he said.