Senator Imee Marcos on Wednesday called anew the Department of Agriculture (DA) for “another attempt to pull off a midnight deal” while the nation is focusing on the official vote count for president and vice president in Congress.
Marcos, who chairs the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, drew attention to Administrative Order 10-2022 signed Monday by Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
The EO gives the go signal to import 38,695 metric tons of small pelagic fish like galunggong (round scad), sardines, and mackerel to be sold in wet markets.
“The DA’s midnight madness goes on, from contriving a shortage earlier this year while a large supply was still in storage to bypassing outright the NFARMC (National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council),” Marcos said.
“The closed fishing season is over and our local fishermen are back to their livelihood, so why is the DA issuing CNIs (certificates of necessity to import)?” Marcos said.
Section 61-c of the Fisheries Code requires the DA to consult with the NFARMC on decisions affecting stakeholders in the fishing industry.
But Jaydrick Yap, an NFARMC member and president of the Southern Fishing Deep Sea Corporation (SOPHIL), told Marcos’s office that the need to import fish was “never discussed” during the second-quarter consultation meeting last April 29.
The DA has pointed to a shortage in fish supply and the gradual increase in wet market prices to justify its latest administrative order, but Marcos disagrees.
“As far as the commercial fishing and aquaculture industry is concerned, there is no shortage in local fish supply, and any increase in fish prices would be due to rising fuel costs,” Marcos said.