Tagbilaran City, Bohol, May 18, (PIA) --- CALL it a rare stroke of luck, but Central Visayas gets 20 of the 43 new patrol boats the country has acquired to enhance community capabilities to be vigilant of their coastal and marine resources.
The turn over also coincided with the celebration of the Ocean Month.
The new 20 units of fiber-glass patrol boats were secured under the Food for Peace Act of the United States Government are to patrol the country’s fisheries’ rich waters of the Central Visayas.
According to government sources, Cebu and Bohol each get seven of the P1.7 million 24-footer fiberglass patrol boats complete with accessories, radio equipment and a Global Positioning System (GPS).
Meanwhile, Negros Oriental gets five and Siquijor gets one.
“We would like to tell here that unlike other provinces, there were no significant political interventions involved in Bohol’s getting these patrol boats, said Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional Director Andres Bojos.
Bojos, who personally came all the way from Cebu clarified that the patrol boats are part of the Public Law 480 Project, which secured the boats in partnership with US Department of Agriculture and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.
The BFAR director said the patrol boats would be brought to coastal communities to help them enhance and improve their coastal law enforcement capability and boost the coastal resources protection.
At the ceremonial turn over of the helms at the Tagbilaran City port, present were Anda Mayor Angelina Simacio, Mabini Mayor Esther Tabigue, Inabanga Mayor Jose Jono Jumamoy, Clarin Mayor Rey Allen Piezas, Tubigon Mayor William Jao, Calape Mayor Sulpicio Yu Jr and a representative of Loon Mayor Lloyd Peter Lopez.
Fisherfolks and other local government officials also witnessed the turn-over ceremonies at a vacant space provided by the Philippine Ports Authority in Tagbilaran.
BFAR Bohol Fishery officer Cresencio Pahamutang explained that the seven town beneficiaries went through stringent screening and evaluation years back to pre-qualify them for the project.
Bojos openly wished the patrol boats would not just be kept as souvenirs but be instruments for the mayors to lead in the commitment of coastal law enforcement.
Governor Edgar Chatto personally expressed his appreciation for the project which partly supplies the lack of equipment needed for Bohol to pursue its efforts of vigilance.
The governor also said that the local peace council has tried to verify reports of not just illegal fishing, coral extraction, sand extraction amidst claims that commercial fishers also encroach into municipal waters to poach.
He said Bohol is so blessed with so much natural resources, citing the coastal environment and resources which not only provided the beauty attracting tourists but also provided the people with the resource they need to live. (Rey Anthony Chiu)