/ 26 February 2021

THE SILLIMAN University is set to roll out a financial education program for fishermen in southern Negros that will impart knowledge on saving and budgeting and the proper use of loans.

The program was launched recently by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in partnership with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, BDO Foundation, and Fish Right Program.

SU President Dr. Betty Cernol McCann said the initiative aims to help alleviate poverty among fishing communities and free fishers from the pressure of overfishing, a practice that damages marine ecosystems.

“Striking a balance of alleviating the plight of our fishing communities and restoring the health of our environment aligns with the University’s vision of a leading Christian institution committed to total human development for the well-being of society and environment,” McCann said.

The university is involved in the program because it is an implementing institution of the Fish Right Program in Southern Negros.

The Fish Right Program is a partnership between BFAR and the US Agency for International Development. It aims to improve marine biodiversity and the fisheries sector in three key ecological areas in the Philippines.

“Through USAID Fish Right program, we hope to build the capacity of more than 25,000 fishers with the intent to reach even more with the help of our partner NGOs and universities in Calamianes Island Group, South Negros, and Visayan Sea,” Patrick Wesner, USAID Philippines deputy mission director, said.

Asst. Prof. Mylah Bomediano, representative of the university’s Government Affairs Center in the Technical Working Group for the program, said SU contributed to the development of the training modules that will be used in the program.

“As members in the TWG, (the Southern Negros team for the Fish Right Program and SU) provided input and comments to the financial education modules being developed and spearheaded by BSP,” Bomediano said.

The university conducted the first field testing of the program modules among potential trainers in Southern Negros.

PATH Foundation Philippines Inc., another implementing partner of the Fish Right Program, is also involved in the program.

“Providing our underserved fishers, especially the women, with knowledge and skills to manage their finances well is so much aligned with our mission of promoting community empowerment and alleviating poverty,” Dr. Angel Alcala, national scientist and PFPI president, said.

“We at PFPI believe that no matter how meager fishers’ incomes are, prudent spending and saving decisions could help them achieve financial health, participate more in efforts to conserve our marine resources—their source of livelihood—and be better partners towards attaining sustainable and resilient fisheries,” Alcala added.