PILI, CAMARINES SUR (May 13, 2012) – An official of the Fisheries Resources Management Division (FRMD) of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional office here, urges fishermen and commercial fishing vessel owners in the Caramoan Peninsula, “not to give bribes," in the light of rampant reports of extortion, allegedly perpetrated by Civilian Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) personnel deputized to escort a fishery task force in the Caramoan area in this province.
Tasked to implement national fishery laws, BFAR-FRMD chief, Francisco P. Ombao told PEOPLE’S JOURNAL on Friday, (May 11) said they are sending a BFAR team to investigate wide reports of CAFGU personnel allegedly mulcting fishermen in Siruma and Caramoan coastal villages.
Ombao said “this practice had been nurtured by fisher folks and commercial vessel owners who gave bribes to local fishery task force members who are to deputized to apprehend violators in their municipal waters.
“Often owners of commercial fishing vessels do not secure required licenses for their operation and they used active gear which can result to confiscation of both vessel and equipment, so they resort to giving bribes,” Ombao stressed.
He explained that CAFGUs are only deputized by the Mayors and BFAR following the schema of the “kabarian anti-illegal fishing task force” in Ligao City, formed by the BFAR and Albay Congressman Fernando Gonzales that was credited for bringing to the “Environmental court” the case of a 90-toner steel vessel using “superlite bulbs” and several “Calansisi” 7-toner vessels that illegally operate in Burias Pass in Albay.
Ombao said, the local government of Ligao City and BFAR have considered giving monthly stipends to the CAFGUs in the amount of P 3,000 pesos, in addition to their regular P 3,000 monthly allowance given by the Philippine Army.
Ombao also noted, it is not widely reported that this year, BFAR and the coastal municipalities in Albay, Masbate, Cam. Sur and Cam. Norte have actively formed individual “fishery task force” in a campaign to stop unabated illegal fishing in Bicol waters, after an urgent appeal by 8 Bicol Bishop for President “Noynoy” Aquino to take action in a letter in 2011.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) in cooperation with agencies DENR, BFAR and the DA has created Environmental courts as mandated by Supreme Court Administrative Memorandum no. 09-6-8-SC .
Within the past 7-months about 75 cases on fishery violations have been filed with such special courts in Ligao City in Albay; Pili, Cam. Sur; Naga and Masbate cities, Ombao added.