The House of Representatives made a historic decision on Monday night, 18 September 2023, passing a bill on its third and final reading to officially designate General Santos City as the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines.” This declaration acknowledges the city’s pivotal role as the largest producer of fresh and canned tuna in the nation.

With an overwhelming display of support, 249 votes were cast in favor of House Bill (HB) No. 4641, which was primarily authored by Representative Loreto B. Acharon, the dedicated congressman representing General Santos City in South Cotabato.

In emphasizing the significance of this legislation, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, who leads the 311-strong House of Representatives, stated, “Through this proposed legislation, the House of Representatives aims to pay homage to the tuna industry, recognizing it as a driving force for development. It not only contributes substantially to our export earnings but also provides livelihood opportunities to our fisherfolks and workers, not just in General Santos City but throughout the nation.”

He further added, “Indeed, after four decades of being the largest producer of canned and fresh tuna in the country, it is only fitting that General Santos City receives this timely recognition as we commit to supporting the industry’s continued growth in the years to come.”

HB No. 4641 boasts a roster of esteemed principal authors who have championed this cause, including Representatives Loreto B. Acharon, Alfredo D. Marañon III, Mannuel Jose “Mannix” M. Dalipe, Danny A. Domingo, Alan B. Ecleo 1, Ciriaco B. Gato Jr., Eric R. Oly Buhain, Dante S. Garcia, Charisse Anne C. Hernandez, Ma. Rene Ann Lourdes G. Matinag, Ramon Jolo B. Revilla III, Jeyzel Victoria C. Yu, Isidro D. Lumayag, Munir N. Arbison Jr., Gabriel H. Bordado Jr., Jose Gay G. Padiernos, Divina Grace C. Yu, Ruth Mariano-Hernandez, and Antonieta R. Eudela.

In the bill’s explanatory note, Representative Acharon highlighted General Santos City’s remarkable status, hosting six out of eight tuna canneries in the Philippines and numerous related industries that provide employment for approximately 120,000 individuals, with an industry value of around 58 million US dollars.

Acharon remarked, “Despite the emergence of other provinces with tuna-centric economies, General Santos City remains, for all practical purposes, the Tuna Capital of the Philippines. This is evident through the annual National Tuna Congress, now in its 24th edition, held in our beloved city. It is an undisputed acknowledgment of our rightful claim to this prestigious title.”

Four decades ago, migratory fish were discovered along the shores of Sarangani Bay, and they have since become not just a major export commodity for General Santos City but also a vital source of livelihood for its residents and a substantial contributor to the nation’s overall gross domestic product (GDP).

This declaration solidifies General Santos City’s position as the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines” and underscores the city’s enduring legacy in the tuna industry, a source of pride for its people and a beacon of economic prosperity for the entire nation.