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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Khonghun seeks probe into BFAR over alleged lack of support to Pinoy fishermen in WPS

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Zambales Rep. Jay Khonghun is pushing for a congressional investigation into the alleged failure of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to provide adequate boats and other necessary support for fishermen in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“It is crucial that we address the inadequacies in the support provided to our fishermen. The fishermen in the WPS deserve the best resources to sustain their livelihoods and uphold our national interests in these contested waters,” he said.

Khonghun was reacting to numerous complaints from the fishing community about the disparity between the assistance provided by BFAR and the actual needs of the fishermen to sustain their livelihood.

The lawmaker cited the importance of scrutinizing and potentially realigning the BFAR budget as Congress prepares to deliberate on the 2025 National Expenditure Program.

BFAR earlier announced its allocation of P660 million for the purchase of 66 units of 62-footer fishing vessels to capacitate Filipino fisherfolk with bigger boats. At least 10 of these large fishing boats would be distributed to fishing cooperatives operating in the WPS.

Khonghun raised concerns over the effectiveness of BFAR’s current initiatives, stressing that the House of Representatives must ensure the allocated funds are being used efficiently to support the fishing community.

“Reevaluating and potentially reallocating BFAR’s budget will guarantee that every peso is directed towards genuinely improving the conditions for our fishermen,” he said. “This is about more than just boats; it’s about securing the future of our fishing industry and reinforcing our sovereignty.”

Khonghun cited the importance of a thorough review of BFAR’s 2025 budget, suggesting possible internal issues within the agency.

“We need to examine BFAR’s budget closely to ensure it matches the fishermen’s needs. There seems to be an anomaly within BFAR as they appear to be misleading our fishermen,” according to the lawmaker.

“Congress has consistently provided funding to BFAR, and the President has repeatedly reminded them to address the real needs of our fishermen. It’s essential that BFAR genuinely engages with the fishing community to understand and meet their requirements,” Khonghun noted.

BFAR said there are 385,300 fishermen in the WPS. The territorial waters account for 275,520 metric tons of fisheries production, which is equivalent to six percent to seven percent of the entire fisheries sector. 

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