Agapito Salido, Jr., a businessman and supporter of vice-presidential candidate Sara Duterte-Carpio and presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., is taking up the challenge in the Palawan gubernatorial race by vowing to ramp up the province’s economy through investments and industrialization.
Salido is up against political veterans such as Victorino Dennis Socrates, Joel T. Reyes, and Art Ventura in the coming May 9 elections.
“Isa rin sa pinagkakaabalahan ko ay ang papaano matutulungan ang Palawan sa pamamagitan ng pagdadala ng iba’t-ibang hanapbuhay sa pamamagitan ng foreign investment,” he said in an interview on Palawan News’ The Profile.
Salido claims he is of indigenous heritage and that he was born in Magsaysay town, but had resided in different towns all over Palawan and eventually set up a business in Metro Manila Manila. He added that his only political experience was as chairman of the Kabataang Barangay during the Marcos era.
Despite his lack of political experience, he wants to improve employment opportunities and help the indigenous peoples of Palawan.
“Ang aking ina ay isang katutubong Tagbanua from Aborlan, kaya ipinagmamalaki ko na gusto kong tulungan ang Palawan upang ibalik muli ang sigla ng ating mga katutubo,” he said.
Salido’s 7-Point Agenda focuses mainly on improving employment and livelihood. It also includes environmental protection by going after illegally-operating mining and quarrying companies. He also vowed to protect indigenous peoples’ land rights, provide free healthcare and medicine for Palawan residents living below the poverty line, and making government projects transparent by using social media platforms like Facebook.
Salido also wants to address the rising prices of fuel by encouraging exploration of natural gas sites and tapping into his connections in the Middle East to address shortage of fuel in both Palawan and the rest of the country.
“Unang-una, isa sa mga pinag-usapan naming ay tulungan ang Pilipinas at ang Palawan para maibaba ang presyo ng ating langis. Nagkaroon ng pagkakataon na matagal ang aking ugnayan sa Middle East, at isang kaibigan, diplomat from Iran and Dubai, [said] they will supply crude oil para mapatakbo muli ang Petron oil refinery,” he said.
Salido also wants to improve Palawan’s agricultural sector by increase farmers’ productivity through sustainable methods. He explained that these include a liming program to decrease acidity in soil that has too many chemicals, encourage the use organic fertilizers, improving irrigation, and using certified seeds. He also expressed plans to secure production and exportation of basmati rice to the Middle East in order to increase revenues from abroad.
“Ang ating pakay sa agriculture ay to increase productivity through sustainable agriculture. Ang ating mga magsasaka ayhalos 20-30 years nang gumagamit ng abonong kemikal, pesticide, at insecticide, meaning, acidic na ang lupa. Isang programa natin ay magkaroon tayo ng liming program sa bawat sa bawat lupain na matagal nang ginamitan ng abonong kemikal,” he said.
Environmental protection is also a part of Salido’s 7-Point Agenda. He vowed to go after mining and quarrying companies operating illegally, close down large-scale quarry operations to make way for small local quarrying companies, and bring down the price of gravel.
A large part of Salido’s plans are industrialization programs for the province. These include setting up cold storage for large fish for local fishermen, as well as setting up canning factories for smaller catch. He added as well that these will be export-grade industries that will bring in more foreign revenue.
To boost tourism in the province, Salido also wants Palawan to be visa-free for most countries, citing Jeju Island in Korea as an example. Salido also vowed that should he be elected for governor he will not be collecting his salary for one term so that the budget may be allocated to a scholarship program for indigenous students.
Change of partylist
Salido also spoke of his partylist-switching decision, which he explained stemmed from the changing alliances and decisions of current national standard-bearers Marcos and Duterte-Carpio. Salido first ran under the Partidong Pilipino sa Pagbabago – Lakas na Tunay ng Palaweño, but switched to Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), which is ultimately an ally of Marcos and Duterte-Carpio’s Uniteam alliance.
“Before October 2021, noong filing ng COC, naglagay na kami ng bandiritas na Sara [Duterte for president], sapagka’t sabi ng aming presidente, tatakbo si Sara bilang presidente sa aming partido. Sa filing, si Sara ay ang-file bilang mayor ng Davao [City],” he said.
“Pagdating ng substitution, hindi naman sa partido naming siya nag-file, doon siya sa Lakas-CMD bilang vice president. Ang sabi rin ng aming presidente, tatakbo si Senator Bong Go sa aming partido, pero hindi rin iyon nangyari, tumakbo siya sa partido ni Greco Belgica [Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan], nag-withdraw rin sila. Kung wala kaming presidente na masasandigan, mahihirapan kami. Kaya kami napunta sa KBL under ng BBM-Sara Uniteam,” he added.
Salido is now running under the KBL partylist with running mate Mariano Parangue.