Hontiveros to BFAR: Account for fish being stolen by China in West PH Sea
MANILA, Philippines – Amid concerns over the diminishing amount of fish caught in Zambales, Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday urged the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to account for the profit loss of fisherfolks due to China’s presence in the West Philippine Sea.
“Magkano ba ang nawawala sa atin dahil hindi tayo makapangisda nang malaya?” Hontiveros asked BFAR in a statement.
(How much was being lost because we cannot fish freely?)
Hontiveros also urged the BFAR to investigate the alleged overfishing perpetrated by China’s vessels in the disputed waters.
“BFAR should be able to regularly monitor these areas because we need to account for what is being stolen from us. The agency must be capacitated to do its job so that we know how much is being withheld from our fisherfolks,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros noted that protecting Filipinos’ rights in the West Philippine Sea is not just about our legal jurisdiction, but also about the country’s food security.
“Ano na ang kakainin ng ating mga mangingisda kung pati ang mismo nilang huli ay inaagaw rin ng Tsina? Ano na ang magiging kabuhayan nila kung may mga barko ng Tsina na hinaharangan ang kanilang paglayag sa sarili nating karagatan?” Hontiveros said.
(What will our fishermen eat if even the fish they caught was also seized by China? What will be their livelihood if there are Chinese ships blocking their voyage in our own oceans?)
“Government should be able to allow Filipino fishers to freely conduct their business: to catch fish. Ngayon, parang pinutulan ng kabuhayan ang sarili nating kababayan (Today, it is as if our own countrymen’s livelihood has been cut off),” she added.
According to Hontiveros, fisherfolks from Zambales said at least 20 Chinese vessels have been spotted 111 kilometers off San Antonio town in Zambales province.
Due to its presence in the area, some fishermen said they would earn almost nothing compared to the past when they earn up to P4,000 per fishing trip.
“China owes us a total of over P800 billion for her years of exploiting the WPS. These figures were released even before the recent swarming of over 200 vessels, making it reasonable to presume that China’s debt to our country has ballooned in only the span of three months,” Hontiveros said.
The senator appealed to the BFAR and the Department of National Defense to work together to ensure that the seas and the Filipino’s way of living are defended.
“Kung kinakailangan samahan ang ating mangingisda para siguradong makapaghanapbuhay, gawin natin. I am certain the costs that go along with protecting our fisherfolks is nothing compared to what we will surely lose in the long run,” Hontiveros said.
(If it is necessary to accompany our fishermen to make sure they can earn a living, let’s do it. I am certain the costs that go along with protecting our fisherfolks are nothing compared to what we will surely lose in the long run.) – Liezelle Soriano Roy, trainee
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