Bongbong Marcos told: Fishing vessel monitoring project of BFAR is ‘tainted with corruption’
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was told by a law firm that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ (BFAR) vessel monitoring system (VMS) is allegedly corrupted.
The Ma. Neiseria Ailah Tuquero and Partners Law Office told the President that the Integrated Marine Environment Monitoring System (PHILO II) is tied to its preceding VMS project, which the Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) No. 266 mandated.
Fishing federation lauds suspension of monitoring of vessels.
“For the Philippine government to continue the implementation of a project which is tainted with corruption and clearly excessive in cost begs the question as to who is the true beneficiary is for its continued implementation,” said the law firm in a letter to Marcos.
Marcos concurrently heads the Department of Agriculture, the parent agency of BFAR.
The President was reminded that several BFAR officials still face a complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman due to a P2.09 billion contract awarded to a British company for the VMS transmitters.
According to the law firm, the project was initially meant to be financed by the French Republic, yet was awarded to the British company SRT Marine Systems Solutions Ltd.
The British company’s Chief Executive Officer Simon Tucker and Chief Financial Officer Richard Hurd were also asked by the Ombudsman to respond to the complaint against them.
“The required number of transceivers was 2,500 in the initial terms of reference, was increased to 5,000 units. These ordered volume far exceeds the required number of units, approximately 1,800 units or 278% more than what is required,” said the law office.
The budget for the contract consequently increased from P1.679 billion to P2.097 billion—a 125 percent increase, said the firm.
Tuquero’s firm also pointed out that implementing PHILO II would need to assume that SRT Marine Systems Solutions Ltd. has already proven compliant.
The Philippines implemented FAO 266 to track commercial fishing and detect illegal activities. This was met with opposition from fishing groups. Malabon City Regional Trial Court Branch 170 has since declared the order void, as it was unconstitutional.