June 25, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

Khonghun demands probe into BFAR’s alleged shortcomings for WPS fishermen

HOUSE Assistant Majority Leader and Zambales 1st District Rep. Jay Khonghun is calling for a congressional probe 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).

The call was in response to numerous complaints from the fishing community about the disparity between the assistance provided by BFAR and their actual needs for sustaining their livelihood.

Khonghun, a member of the House “Young Guns,” also stressed the importance of scrutinizing and potentially realigning the BFAR budget as Congress prepares to deliberate on the upcoming 2025 National Expenditure Program.

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

Earlier this year, BFAR announced it allocated P660 million for the purchase of 66 units of 62-footer fishing vessels to capacitate Filipino fisherfolk with bigger boats.

The agency said that at least 10 of these large fishing boats are to be distributed to fishing cooperatives operating in the WPS. 

Khonghun expressed concerns over the effectiveness of BFAR’s current initiatives, emphasizing that the House 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,” Khonghun pointed out. 

“This is about more than just boats; it’s about securing the future of our fishing industry and reinforcing our sovereignty,” he added.

Khonghun stressed 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,” he said.

He continued, “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.”

According to BFAR, there are 385,300 fishermen in the WPS. These territorial waters account for 275,520 metric tons of fisheries production, which is equivalent to 6 percent to 7 percent of the whole fisheries sector