Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, pushed for a new provision in the fisheries code that will create a fund to assist poor fisherfolks.
Villar stressed that the fund will be sourced from increased penalties for illegal, unauthorized and unreported fishing, which are declared serious infringements under the proposed amendments.
“By increasing the penalty against illegal fishing activities, we are not only discouraging people to commit these acts, we are also putting up a fund that will help the fishery sector,” Villar said.
During a public hearing today at the Senate, Villar said Republic Act 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 should be amended to create the Fisheries Management Fund. The fund will be administered by the Department of Agriculture through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
“We are including this provision so that we can have a source of fund to establish scholarship programs for children of fisherfolks and livelihood programs so that we can teach them how to earn additional income,” Villar said.
Under the proposed amendments to the 16-year-old law, 25 percent of the fund will be allocated to BFAR for fishery law enforcement and 75 percent will be allotted to provide assistance to poor fisherfolks.
The fund can be further broken down as follows:
A. 10% for the purchase, upgrade and maintenance of vessels, communication and other equipment used for the monitoring, control and surveillance, of philippine waters and distant water fishing;
B. 5% for the payment of litigation expenses, cost of conveyance of witnesses and other costs due to cases filed by or against the Republic of the Philippines in international courts arising from the implementation of this act or where apprehending party or parties become respondents or defendants in any tribunal or court of law;
C. 15% for the operating costs of the ifarmc and mfarmc and payment for the cost of rehabilitation, medical expenses for injury, or indemnity for death of law enforcement officers, including deputized volunteers;
D. 20% for payment for rewards to informers and those who assisted in fishery law enforcement;
E. 5% for the continued upgrading of laboratory facilities and equipment;
F. 5% for the capability development of bfar personnel, deputized law enforcement agencies and volunteers, and stakeholders;
G. 10% for scholarship grants for children of fisherfolks and fishworkers in fish catch, aquaculture, fishing and fish processing;
H. 15% for livelihood programs for production enhancement and poverty alleviation; and
I. 15% for assistance to fishermen in the form of shared facilities;
“We are establishing a reward system for informers who assisted in fishery law enforcement to deter illegal activities and in the long run ensure the conservation, protection and sustained management of the country's fishery and aquatic resources,” Villar said. ###