As PBBM directs LGUs to find more fishing grounds for Mindorenos
n By Vito Barcelo and Vince Lopez
President Ferdinand Marcos has directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government to meet with local chief executives and discuss alternative fishing grounds to allow fisherfolk displaced by the massive oil spill in Oriental Mindoro to fish in other waters around the province.
The President issued the directive during a situation briefing with the different national government agency heads and mayors in Pola town.
This developed as the damage cost and losses due to the oil spill from the sunken motor tanker Princess Empress are about to breach the P1-billion mark, according to data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
Some P441.25 million in income has been lost in 22 fishing days due to the Mindoro oil spill, the BFAR said Saturday.
Meanwhile, the damage or losses in terms of inputs and produce, fishing gears and paraphernalia, and facilities and equipment amounted to P445,333,928.
These include fisheries production losses from MIMAROPA’s commercial and municipal fisheries valued at P14,138,400 and damage to 119 metric tons of seaweed productions in Western Visayas valued at almost P3 million, BFAR director Demosthenes Escoto added.
Data from the bureau showed more than 26,000 fisherfolk were directly affected by the oil spill.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development continues to provide various interventions to families and individuals affected by the oil spill to complement the disaster response operations and efforts of their respective local government units.
Mr. Marcos instructed DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. to schedule a dialogue with the local officials of the four fishing sites within the Calabarzon and Mimaropa regions that could be tapped by the affected fishermen.
The four alternative fishing sites in Regions 4-A and 4-B include the Mindoro Strait in Mindoro Oriental; Cuyo Pass in Batangas; Tablas Strait in Romblon; and Tayabas Bay in Quezon.
Calabarzon (Region 4-A) is composed of the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon while Mimaropa (Region 4-B) is composed of the provinces of Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan.
The Chief Executive also assured that the national government, through the BFAR – an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture currently under the President’s supervision — and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will continue monitoring the situation on the ground.
“DENR will continue to monitor the situation. BFAR will continue to monitor the situation. As soon as it becomes clear, and we can go back to the old normal going to the new normal,” the President pointed out.
Mr. Marcos said the clean-up operations of the oil spill, led by the Philippine Coast Guard, will continue as the national and local government units proceed to the next stage, which is recovery of the economic activity in the area.
“The immediate danger, the immediate situation has already been attended to. And it needs now and you are right. Let’s take advantage now,” the President said.
“Mr. Marcos said that all the livelihood program is contained in the five-year recovery plan, prepared by the local chief executives in the affected area of the oil spill.
Apart from the inspection, Marcos also led the distribution of various government assistance to 1,200 beneficiaries, including fisherfolk and residents of Pola.
The Chief Executive turned over 17 fishing boats with engines to Oriental Mindoro, seven of which are for Pola; a unit of post-harvest technology package (fish-smoking technology) worth P335,739 to the Maasin Marine Protected Area Association in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro; A unit of 65 HP tractor with implements to the Maralitang Magsasaka ng Mindoro in Bansud, Oriental Mindoro; three units of pump and engine to Maralitang Magsasaka ng Mindoro and Mahabang Parang Farmers Association in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro; and six water pumps for the municipalities of Pola, Naujan, and Pinamalayan in Oriental Mindoro.
Aside from machinery, agricultural inputs were also distributed, including 2.5 kg. of assorted vegetable seeds, 10 bags of black rice, two bags of brown rice, 300 bags of certified palay seeds, and 300 corn seeds to the local government of Pola.
Mr. Marcos has so far distributed P98.6 million worth of food packs to the affected residents.
To date, the DSWD distributed 140,728 family food packs out of 187,140 kits delivered to the province in tranches.
The more than 46,000 other food packs are scheduled for the 7th and 8th distribution schedules.
Oriental Mindoro municipalities that received government aid include Baco, Bansud, Bongabong, Bulalacao, Calapan City, Gloria, Naujan, Mansalay, Pinamalayan, Pola, Roxas, San Teodoro, Socorro, and Victoria.
The DSWD is also carrying out a cash-for-work program in the government cleanup operations in coordination with the DENR.
As of posting, more than 25,000 families in 14 towns are engaged in the program, with a total budget allocation of P190.1 million, said the DSWD.
Among the activities being undertaken are the oil spill cleanup along the coastlines under the guidance of the DENR, land clearing for a communal garden, establishment of barangay and background gardening, hauling and handling family food packs, and cleanup and desilting of canals for flood prevention.
The damage in terms of inputs and produce, fishing gears and paraphernalia, facilities, and equipment amounted to P445.3 million.