Mayor orders crackdown against illegal wharves PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 17:16

To curb human trafficking and other illegal activities including shipment of protected marine species and other contraband items, Mayor Celso Lobregat is bent on having the operation of illegal wharves in the city’s coastal areas stopped.

The mayor is convinced that the some finger wharves, private ports and illegal ports are used as staging areas for underground activities specifically human trafficking, illegal trade of marine products and other prohibited items.

Mayor Lobregat is set to convene with Task Force Pantalan to formally present its findings and recommendations within this week. The chief executive has received the report of the task force but stressed that he has set a meeting with the group to make its presentation.

The task force led by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), was created through Executive Order CL-383-2011 January 17, 2011 to check on the proliferation of illegal construction of ports or finger wharves in coastal areas of the city.

Specifically, the task force is charged to conduct an impartial and actual inventory of all illegal port facilities. The task force is composed of Mayor Lobregat, City Administrator Antonio Orendain Jr., PPA Manager Leonilo Miole, representatives from Naval Forces Western Mindanao, Philippine Coast Guard Zamboanga District, PNP Maritime, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO-West and East), Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatics Resources (BFAR), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and other concerned agencies.   

Aside from the conduct of the inventory, the task force, under the mayor’s EO is also tasked to recommend for the immediate demolition of illegal piers/ finger wharves when warranted; recommend the filing of appropriate suit in Court against the violators when these violators do not voluntarily demolish the same and recommend other measures that will appropriately address non-repetition of the violations cited by the report of the task force.

“We want to look into the operation of these illegal ports and make sure that these illegal ports are not allowed to operate”, the mayor said adding that the agency primarily mandated to check on these illegal facilities is the PPA.

He said: “Actually it is the PPA that has the powers over these ports, unfortunately the PPA does not have the manpower or the muscle power to police these ports”.

According to the mayor, the cooperation and support of the police and Task Force Zamboanga will be tapped to help in the enforcement of port laws now that the Task Force Pantalan has submitted its report.

Illegal items such as black corrals do not pass through the ports, the entry is being done through unguarded ports, the mayor added.
The task force has expanded its membership as its coverage will include not only commercial ports but also fishing ports and private ports that serve as docking or berthing place for fishing vessels.

“It really shows that we have to take this issue very seriously because we want to make sure that there are no criminal elements coming in and out of these ports”, Mayor Lobregat said.