500 boats given for ‘Yolanda’ survivors rotting in storage
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—More than 500 fishing boats intended for fishermen who lost their boats at the height of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in Eastern Visayas remain undistributed and could now be rotting away.
The fishing boats, made of plywood and painted in green, are deposited at the front and near the provincial office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Leyte in Barangay (village) Candahug, Palo town.
Ranulfo Arbiol, provincial environment and natural resource officer, said the boats were donated by the private company DMCI and intended for fishermen who lost their fishing boats when Yolanda, carrying winds of up to 300 kph, slammed into the region on Nov. 8, 2013.
Each of the fishing boats costs P18,000.
Arbiol said Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, wanting to help the fishermen who survived Yolanda but lost their source of livelihood, appealed for help from “logging concessionaries and one of those who responded was the DMCI.”
DMCI, said Arbiol, has a logging concession, lumber and plywood plants in Zamboanga.
The DMCI donated the materials from Zamboanga in November of last year to 20 workmen who immediately started to assemble the fishing boats.
The boats were finished in July of this year, he said.
But three months had lapsed and the fishing boats have yet to be distributed to their intended beneficiaries.
Paint on the boats started to peel as they are stored in the DENR office. Their bows are now broken, said Arbiol.
Arbiol expressed his concern that the seaworthiness of the fishing boats is now in doubt.
“I’m not an expert on this matter being a forester but from the looks of it, the seaworthiness of these fishing boats may be questioned unless these are retrofitted which will mean additional cost to our fishermen who are supposed to receive them,” Arbiol said.
He said he already informed the DMCI that the boats had not been distributed adding that the company had promised to donate 1,200 fishing boats in all.
“I really don’t know now if the remaining promised fishing boats will still materialize with this situation right now,” Arbiol said.
According to him, his office’s role is just to offer a venue for the construction of the boats.
He said the identification of the beneficiaries was the obligation of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The DILG, in turn, had asked for a listing of beneficiaries in March this year from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
But an official of the BFAR, who declined to be identified, said that the BFAR has already furnished the DILG of a list of beneficiaries on April 6, 2015.
The BFAR official added that the bureau did not know what the list was for as it was unaware of the donation of boats made by DMCI.
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