Small fishermen not included in DA rehab plan, fishers group complains

Small fishermen not included in DA rehab plan, fishers group complains

By Maria Stella Recuerdo del Carriedo, contributor

Quezon City-The small fishermen affected by tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng are not included in the relief and rehabilitation plans of the Department of Agriculture, a militant fisherfolk federation said on Wednesday.

“This government is willing to spend millions of taxpayers money for big aquaculture operators to recoup their invested capitals, but not a single centavo for poor fisherfolk. It shows the extreme biased of this government to big fish lords and aquaculture monopolies by pursuing this bailout courtesy of public funds,” the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said in a press statement.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap was referring to the plan of agriculture secretary Arthur Yap to spend P 2,500 per hectare for tilapia fishponds at 50 centavos per fingerling and P 1,750 per hectare for bangus farms at 35 centavos per fingerling.

“How about the demand for relief the rehabilitation of small fisherfolk affected by Ondoy and Pepeng? Our poor fishermen deserved relief and rehabilitation assistance from the state. Do they?”, Hicap asked.

An average of P 2,125 per hectare for 8,356 hectares of damage fishery areas, restocking could reach P 17.7 million. According to DA Central Action Center chief Maritess Bernardo some 5,000 tilapia fingerlings and bangus fries will be provided to affected fishponds and bangus farms in Central Luzon.

The estimated cost of rehabilitating damaged aquaculture farms in Central Luzon is part of the P 682 million fund earmarked by the agriculture department to repair damages to agriculture and fisheries caused by typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng.

The Pamalakaya official suggested that DA and the the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources should set aside relief and production subsidies to small fisherfolk by an amount of P 5,000 per fisherman who owns and operates a small motorized banca, while those operating non-motorized boat should at least receive P 2,500 per person.

Hicap said this is to ensure that small fisherfolk can continue to operate and provide the fish needs of population. The Pamalakaya leader said 80 percent of the proposed production subsidies will go to procurement of gasoline and fixing of damaged boats and fishery tools.

The fisherfolk leader also agreed with the proposal of Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano that all financial aid alloted for relief and rehabilitation of the agriculture and fisheries sector should go directly to peasant organizations and fisherfolk associations to ensure that these funds are properly utilized, corruption free and would go directly to beneficiaries. #

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