MANILA, Philippines -- A leftist fisherfolk group scoffed at a plan by Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap to allocate P5 million to buy fish from Romblon province and process these into fish cakes or fish balls.
In a statement on Friday, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya, National Strength of the Fishers? Movement in the Philippines) national chairperson Fernando Hicap said Yap?s plan was an ?escapist and outrageous? plan to address the plunging sales of fish from the province, near where the MV Princess of the Stars sank last June 21.
?Is Secretary Yap serious? Or the agriculture secretary merely wants to display his sense of humor in times of national hardship or crisis?? Hicap said.
Last Friday, officials from the Department of Health (DoH) banned the eating of fish taken from Romblon waters after it was learned that the highly toxic pesticide Endosulfan was among the cargo of the ill-fated ferry.
Hicap also slammed the fish ban, which he likened to ?an incurable disease or a national curse crippling the livelihood of small Filipino fishermen in many provinces of Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Central and Western Visayas regions.?
He added that the solution was for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to immediately release the P2.5-billion Kilos Asenso (Action for Progress) fund for the victims of typhoon ?Frank? (international codename: Fengshen).
?The fund should be proportionally distributed to areas devastated by super typhoon Frank,? Hicap said.
Pamalakaya said around 300,000 fishermen were affected by the typhoon and fish scare, losing between P450 million to P1.3 billion from June 22 up to June 30.