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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

House leaders: Inter-agency panel to probe grievances of Zambales fishers

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House of Representatives leaders have vowed to create an inter-agency panel tasked to look into the grievances raised by stakeholders in the West Philippine Sea.

This came after several House leaders last week conducted a public consultation with Zambales fisherfolk. 

Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. said Congress will definitely take note of what transpired in the joint hearing of the House Committees on National Defense and Security and the Special Committee on the West Philippine Sea that he described as “very emotional.”

“The budget season is almost here. Our fisherfolk have spoken. So rest assured that we will form an inter-agency panel to resolve their concerns and feelings,” Gonzales said in a mix of English and Filipino.

During the said hearing, the fisherfolk raised that they cannot use the boats provided by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

“This issue is complex, this problem is complex. So we need the help of many government agencies. The approach we can get here, inter-agency or even multi-sectoral approach,” said Iloilo Rep. Raul Tupas, vice-chairperson of the House Committee on National Defense and Security.

“Hopefully, we will be able to overcome these obstacles and convert them into stepping stones. That was the first thing Speaker Martin Romualdez said during his adjournment message. He really emphasized that there is a real need for national security, that economic activity is needed for our country to progress and for help to come to our marginalized sectors,” he added.

Zambales Rep. Jefferson Khonghun said the House of Representatives will surely exercise its oversight functions to validate the grievances of the Zambales fishermen.  

“Congress did not fall short in providing funds to BFAR. Our President did not fail to remind the BFAR to do their job and really go down to our fishermen and find out their needs,” Khonghun said.

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