TAGBILARAN CITY – Fishing vessel owners/operators and their workers in Bohol belonging to Bisayas Alliance of Fisherfolk Operators Reform (BAPOR), an affiliate of the Alyansa ng Mangngisda ng Pilipinas (AMP), have demanded for the scrapping of Republic Act No. 10654, “An Act To Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, Amending Republci Act No. 8550, Otherwise knonw as The Philippne Fisheries Code of 1998, and for other purposes.”
BAPOR president Kenneth Abuyabor said that law prevents them from fishing within 15-km municipal water distance from the shoreline.
Another operator said in interview that the said law, which is to be implemented once the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) will be finished, is like a “No entry” for fishing vessels to catch fish.
The 400-strong BAPOR members, including their families, launched the “fish holiday” that practically cripple the fish markets in this city since no fish vendors tried to sell their catch, except for some, but instead joined the strike.
Placards are all over, including those mounted on fishing boats docked at the causeway that joins this city and Panglao island across the narrow strait.
One placard said, “Republic Act 10654 Corruption” with red and bold paint “P-Noy” printed across it. Another said: “Gobernador sa Bohol Hinaot Imong Hatagan ug Action ang Mga Yangu-ngo sa mga Mananagat tungod sa Republic Act 10654.”
Others printed in streamers and hang on boats: “Republic Act 10654 Dugang Problema sa mga Mangingisda, Maong ato Kining Ibasura,” and “Republic Act 10654 Usa Ka Dakong Hilo sa Mga Mananagat.”
The two-day “fish holiday” was launched held at the causeway where the fishing vessels were docked. It ended yesterday. Workers also took a holiday and joined the strike that was allowed by the city government thru a permit issued to BAPOR.
The strike caught buyers and consumers by surprise. A fish vendor engaging in buy-and-sell said he was unaware of the holiday and just decided to go back and wait until the strike is over.
In some wet markets of the city, milk fish is the common in the displays by some vendors who wanted to earn their daily living.
BAPOR also scored on the said law’s high imposition of penalties, for instance the imposition of Php2,500/person when the vessels violates the law. This is very exorbitant, it said.
Another provision BAPOR wanted scrapped is the required mounting of Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) in every vessel, which they said is very expensive, in the amount of Php200,000 apiece aside from paying the use of satellite for the system.
Abuyabor said that BAPOR is sorry to their customers since the mass action is only temporary and that tomorrow they’ll back again and business as usual.
The group alleged that they were not consulted when the law was still in the legislative mill.
When asked if the Bohol congressmen tried to consult them, Abuyabor said he did not know.
The said law was signed by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon. It is a consolidation of Senate Bills No. 2414 and House Bill No. 4536 passed on Dec. 1, 2014 by both Houses.
It became into law without the signature of President Aquino after it “lapsed into law on Feb 27, 2015 without the signature of the President” pursuant to Article VI, section 27 (1) of the Constitution. (rvo)