Edmond "Jojo" Gastanes (PN file photo)

Edmond “Jojo” Gastanes believes that if he wins his first election as vice-mayor in Narra, he will help boost the town’s agriculture business, which is one of his top goals.

Gastanes remarked in an interview with Palawan News program The Profile that he believes farmers and fisherfolks must be well-managed to enable them to make their lives better while also ensuring the town’s food supply.

“Kung titingnan mo ang data, mas maraming mahihirap na magsasaka at mangingisda, mukhang wala silang boses at lakas paano sila ma-i-manage nang tama. Iyon ang nakita ko na dapat bigyan ng diin sa panahong ito at lalo noong nagkapandemya tayo, maraming problema ang nakita natin but ‘yong agriculture talaga ang dapat mabigyan ng atensyon,” Gastanes said.

Gastanes is determined to try his luck in politics once more and serve in Narra town, after failing in elections when he ran for Puerto Princesa City councilor years ago. He sees politics as an opportunity to help his fellow residents, and he believes he can represent the people of Narra.

Gastanes, who is running for vice mayor, said he could cooperate with incumbent mayor Gerandy Danao if he wins the May 9 election. He considers that his team, led by Danao, is strong enough because it includes sectoral representation.

“Sa akin, ang pulitika ay importante dahil siya ang nagpapakilos sa mamamayan, kung ano ang dapat na direksyon. Kaya ako ay humangad uli na pasukin muli ang pulitika,” he said.

“Akala ko’y tuloy-tuloy na ang pagbabago noong Manalo si Mayor Danao noong 2019. Makikita mo na ang taumbayan ay sawang-sawa sa nangyari. Maraming problema, parang walang aksyon — sa ngayon, sabi ko nga sa sarili ko, kailangan na may makakasama si Mayor Danao na maging kabalikat niya,” he added.

Gastanes hopes to improve the lives of farmers and fishermen in Narra, which is renowned as one of Palawan’s major rice producers.

He said he is aiming to develop policies that would help Narra’s agriculture business grow and minimize the number of poor farmers and fishermen.

“Nandiyan naman ang galing ni Mayor Danao sa grassroots, sa pagbabasa. Sasabayan natin ng pagbaba ng impormasyon, ‘yong paggamit ng data. Importante ito para gumawa ng opportunity,” he said.

He also wants to encourage investors to come to Narra for the benefit of all stakeholders, as well as have a clear public consultation because policies should not be imposed on the people, citing the example of the division of Palawan into three provinces without public consultation, which resulted in increased costs.

“Kailangan ang batas ay pinoproseso ayon sa puso at damdamin ng mamamayan. Alam nila kung ano ang problema,” he stressed.

Gastanes revealed that Danao’s family and theirs are both from Barangay Panacan, Narra, and that their teamwork will enable the executive and legislative branches of the town to achieve their goals.

If elected vice mayor, he claimed their alliance will advocate for openness and the formation of the “Bangon Bagong Narra People’s Council,” which will allow different sectors to easily consult on any project proposals.

Like Danao, he is opposing the coal-fired power plant. He will also push to collect the P94 million tax deficiency of Citinickel Mines and Development Corporation (CMDC) for the year 2012 until 2015.

He clarified that he is only helping and does not interfere with Danao’s decisions during his first term in office.

“Tumutulong lang ako kung ano maganda para sa ikabubuti rin,” he explained.

He added that entrepreneurs with good business intentions must be supported to help the growth of the local economy. Laws for environmental protection and conservation must not be compromised, he stressed. While discussing tourism, Gastanes said it is not yet the sector that Narra must focus on.

“Sa ngayon, masasabi ko na hindi pa tayo pwede sa turismo but pwede paghandaan. Kailangan nandiyan ‘yong tourism but we need an agricultural tourism—pagandahin, maraming tanim, i-develop natin ‘yon. Nandiyan ang Estrella Falls, paghandaan lang ‘yong ibang maki-cater natin,” he said.

“Pero right now, hindi natin pwede isagad ang pondo dahil sa turismo. Walang mangyayari ngayong first three years, hindi tayo bubuhayin ng turismo. Kailangan lang paghandaan ‘yan,” he added.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.