SAN JOSE De BUENAVISTA, Antique -- There are now fewer Antiquenos who go to Negros Occidental to work as sacadas or sugar migrants, said an official of the Antique Provincial Social Welfare and Development in a phone interview on Thursday.

“Negros Occidental Gov. (Alfredo) Maranon even said that there was a delay in their harvest because of the lack of sacadas now,” said Lazaro G. Petinglay, who went with the team of Antique Governor Rhodora J. Cadiao for the yearly “Bisita Sacada” or visit to the Antiqueno sugar migrants in Negros Occidental.

The team who ended their three-day visit on Thursday estimated that only a little more than 400 sacadas met them out of the more than 1,000 based on Antique-labor department’s records.

He said that there is really a big improvement on the situation of the sacadas because of the appeal and campaign to the sugarland owners and contractors to provide them with a more decent living quarters and safe drinking water.

“We really noticed a big improvement such as there is now electricity and potable drinking water in the quarters,” he said.

The Bisita Sacada was started by the governor two years ago when she learned the miserable plight of the Antiquenos, who because of poverty and lack of employment in the province, ventured to go to Negros Occidental to work in the sugar plantations.

Petinglay said in their visits in the eight haciendas, they were able to see also fewer Antiqueno children, who they later found out were just on vacation and not really working as child laborers.

Gov. Cadiao last Tuesday before embarking to the haciendas paid a courtesy call to Negroc Occidental Gov. Maranon, Jr. who also told her to prepare the sacadas as in two to three years’ time they would really be needing less human labor due to mechanization.

“Gov. Cadiao in this aspect is also now laying plans on how to provide alternative livelihood for the sacadas such as helping them start their own sari sari stores,” Petinglay said.

During the visit, Cadiao’s team also distributed food packs and medicines to the sacadas. 

They were also oriented on labor laws for their welfare and protection by the personnel of the Antique-labor department who went with the team.

The Antique Provincial Health Office medical personnel also conducted consultations.

“The governor urged the sacadas to help themselves break the cycle of poverty so that their later generations will no longer have to undergo similar hardships,” Petinglay added. (AJP/PNA)