Saturday, August 6, 2016

SP GRILLS SUAL MAYOR ON MARKER BUOYS


DUPED? Sual Mayor Bing Arcinue interviewed by media
 men on the the tax rip-off's brouhaha created by Team
 Energy. PHOTO: MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA
Lingayen – The Sangguniang Panlalawigan has started an inquiry last August 3 on the petition against Sual government officials for putting up marker bouys in the Cabalitian Bay that allegedly affect adversely the livelihood of barangay residents of Cabalitian, Baquioen and Pangascasan of Sual town, host to the 1,200 megawatt coal-fired power plant.
Board Member Liberato Villegas, chair of the committee on environment and natural resources, together with Board Member Noel Bince, chairman of the committee on laws and ordinances, presided the hearing at the SP session hall attended by hundreds of the petitioners.
Sual town Mayor Roberto “Bing” Arcinue attended the committee hearing along with his concerned department heads. Other agencies present were Regional Victoria Abrera of the Environment Management Bureau of Department of Environment Natural Resources (EMB-DENR) and Rowena Gaerlan of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional office.
Also in the hearing were Dalisay Moya, officer-in-charge of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist and Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Geraldine Baniqued.
Villegas said the inquiry is “intended to asses and evaluate objectively the petition and come up with measures to iron out the kinks.”
At the hearing, the petitioners claimed that the marker-buoys serve the interest of the owners of the fish cages that have mushroomed within the bay area. The gadgets, they said, have been detrimental to their fishing activity as these have constricted the navigational lanes within the communal fishing ground.
“Kami ay napagkaitan ng aming ikinabubuhay bilang mangingisda samantalang matagal na kami dito sa lugar na ito pagkatapos po ay nababawasan pa ang maliit naming na kinikita dahil kailangan pa naming umikot ng napakalayo para lang makarating sa Cabalitian kung saan kami ay nangingisda,” Elmer Santos of brgy. Pangascasan said.
For his part, Juanito Inocencio of Barangay Pangascasan said he fears for the safety of the school children in Barangay Cabalitian every time they would go to Pangascasan National High School as they have to brave the strong water current. “Kasi iyong sinasakyan nilang motorboat ay iikot pa ng napakalayo para lang maiwasan iyong boya na sasabit sa propeller.”
Other petitioners informed the SP committee that they were being harassed by armed men hired by the fish cage operators every time they go fishing.
Asked by Board Member Bince on what initial move being taken by the OPAG, Moya said her office conducted an ocular inspection last May 19 and found that 750 fish cages are sprawled over the 150-hectare mariculture zone in Cabalitian bay while another cluster of 60 fish cages were installed outside the zone.
Moya reported to the committee that while the marker bouys protect the fish cages, they are not equipped with anchors to hold them, thus making them drift to the perimeters of the navigational lanes constricting in the process passage ways of the small fishermen.
This was confirmed, she said, by Sual municipal agriculturist Florencia Guanzon.
“Lumulutang-lutang na lang ang mga ito na parang debris in mariculture waters sa area.” Moya told the committee.
Mayor Arcinue got irked by Moya’s negative reports and bewailed that the committee hearing was “politically motivated.”
“This is the political agenda by the vice mayor. The petitioners are fictitious because ninety-nine percent of them are not fishermen. Karamihan sa kanila ay farmers, tricycle drivers, mga walang trabaho at iyong mga nagpapakain sa fish cages. Bakit importante ito?” Arcinue said.
“This is the idea of the Vice Mayor and not the idea of the petitioners,” Arcinue said.
But Bince rebuked the mayor, saying it’s the SP’s duties and responsibilities to conduct hearings and investigations on any complaint or petition filed before the body. “it is our sworn duty to conduct investigation and submit such to the proper authorities,” he said.
“There is no direct evidence to prove that the complaint is politically-motivated,” Bince said, adding that Arcincue’s statements were mere conjectures and speculations.
On interpellation by BM Villegas, Arcinue explained that the installation of marker bouy were in accordance with Section 47 of the Revised Sual Fishery Code. “I have to implement it,” he told the committee.
He pointed out that the fishery ordinance was unanimously approved by the Sangguniang Bayan headed by Vice Mayor Dionisio Caburao after no one came to question it during a public hearing. “Bakit ngayon meron mga complaints,” the mayor said.
However, BM Villegas told the mayor that installation of marker bouy to enclose the fish cages is ideal but “it should not intend to isolate fishermen from using the fishing waters for their livelihood and to cause burden to school children who are being transported by sea from home to school and vice versa.”

“This is already a violation of rights,” Villegas said.
Arcinue pointed out that he is protecting the fish cages from pilferage and theft as requested by the investors. “Meron na kasing sinunog na mga gamit ng fish cage owners kagaya ng motorboat at merun na din pinatay,” the mayor added.
But the petitioners debunked the mayor’s claim. “Kahit naman sino ay pwedeng mangisda sa dagat para pandagdag sa gastusin sa araw-araw at lahat kami na pumirma sa petition ay mga mangingisda.”
“Iyong mga investors na hindi naman taga-Sual ay naglalagay ng fish cages para kumita pero kami na mismo residente ng Sual ay napagkakaitan para kumita,” petitioners lamented.
Meanwhile, Regional Director Victoria Abrera said that only 70 percent of the 750 fish cages in the mariculture zone have an environment compliance certificate (ECC) issued by her office.
She added the EMB office may suspend the renewal of ECC and file another cease and desist order (CDO) as happened in 2013 wherein the illegal fish cage operators were fined P50,000 for each unit.
“It has been our policy to file CDO whenever there is complaint,” Abrera stressed in an interview.
The committee is set to inspect on August 12, Friday the area with the DENR-EMB, BFAR, PENRO and OPAG. (Merly Tibalao)

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