Thousands join rally to protest amendments to Fisheries Code PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 December 2014 13:46

Thousands of workers from fishing companies and canning factories joined yesterday the rally protesting House

Bill No. 4536 that seeks to amend the Philippine Fisheries Code and grants the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) wider power.

The rallyists converged in front of the office of BFAR along RT. Lim Boulevard.

The more than 2,000 protesters carried placards some of which read “No to R.A. 8550 amendments per HB 4536” and  “Ginoong Pangulo tulungan nyo kami na manatili ang aming hanapbuhay.”

Philippine Integrated Industries Labor Union (PHILU) National President Jose Suan said the moment this bill will be signed into law by Presiden Aquino, several fishing and canning companies may shut down and stop their operations.

“House Bill 4536 is very disadvantageous to us because we’ll lose employment,  especially, for our workers with the possibility that the owners of the  canning and fishing companied will import fish from abroad,” Suan said.

Suan who is also the Vice-President of the Trade Union Congress of the  Philippines (TUCP-ICEM) said the provisions of HB 4536 is very detrimental to the rights of the workers.

“It gives wider power to BFAR for the imposition of penalties with millions of pesos,” Suan added.

He said once the bill is signed into law, the more than 30,000  workers will be affected as there will be closure of factories producing ice, tin can, stevedores and other work forces.

Under the proposed amendments to the Fisheries Code, the penalties imposed for violation of fisheries law would be raised to the range of P500,000 to P10 million from the current range of P10,000 to P500,000 imposed under the present law.

Vessel owners could also face imprisonment for violations if their vessels are involved in. Under the present law, only the vessel captain, chief engineer and master fisherman may be held liable for violations.

The same House Bill requires fishing vessels to install Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) devices which may entail expenses of over P240,000 per vessel, plus the monthly maintenance subscription fee of over P20,000 per vessel. This is also being strongly opposed by fishing companies.

“It’s not only them (workers) who will be affected but including fishing industry,” Suan said.

Suan and BFAR Regional Director Ahadulla Sajili met for clarification on the  rally being conducted by the workers.

“We appreciate their move as long as it is peaceful assembly to address issues,” Sajili said.

“There is a need to sit on the table and present their position paper to the President and talk...: Sajili added. — Monch L. Follosco