Photo courtesy of Lunas Partylist Facebook Page

Tourist boat operators from Sabang, Brgy. Cabayugan affected by Typhoon Odette on Monday received financial aid from Lungsod Aasenso (LUNAS) Partylist to help them rebuild their boats and other property destroyed or damaged by the typhoon.

A grant of P200,000 from LUNAS was received by the officers of the Sabang Sea Ferry Multipurpose Cooperative (SSFMC) during a turnover ceremony Monday.

Brian Yamsuan, 1st nominee of LUNAS, acknowledged the Palawan Savers’ Club (PSC) based in Puerto Princesa City for helping as their conduit to the SSFMC. Yamsuan said that when their organization learned of the plight of the SSFMC members after Odette, they decided to donate cash so members would have resources to build their damaged boats.

“We are donating P200,000 as initial help sa kanila kasi nakikita naman talaga natin ang damage sa kanilang bangka, at kailangan nila ng ayuda,” he said in a phone interview on Monday.

Yamsuan said that LUNAS’ aim is to assist “no-work-no-pay” workers all over the country, especially those that were affected by the pandemic. He said that the boat operators in Sabang, who provide the main transport to the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR), fit into the category of those they want to help.

“’Yong partylist namin, doon siya sa no-work-no pay [industries] ang advocacy namin. Ito ‘yong mga manikurista, masahista, musikero, magtataho, drivers, at ang mga nasa Sabang. Basically, kung titingnan mo, sila talaga ‘yong naapektuhan nitong pandemic. Noong nagkaroon ng lockdown, nagkaroon ng social distancing, sila ang unang nawalan ng trabaho,” he explained.

The SSFMC has a total of 2,157 members, with 314 families relying on tourism for income, while others use their boats for fishing. While some damaged boats could still be repaired, most were no longer serviceable, leaving operators and owners unsure how they would earn a living.

Yamsuan added that this may be their last relief drive before the campaign and election season begins, but they are still committed to organizing other forms of assistance and relief to the needy after the May 9 elections. Aside from the SSFMC, LUNAS also participated in relief drives for other typhoon-hit barangays in Puerto Princesa City and Roxas town.