LUCENA CITY—A group of fishermen expressed frustration at plans announced by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to distribute 1,300 boats to fishermen, saying the number of fishermen who had lost their boats to Supertyphoon “Yolanda” could easily reach 100,000.
In a statement, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the DA plan to distribute 1,300 boats and 4,000 nets to fishermen who survived Yolanda but lost their boats was not a sufficient response to the fishermen’s plight following the storm.
In Bacolod City, another group is launching a search for donors for boats to be given fishermen who lost theirs.
The Negrense Volunteers for Change (NVC), a nongovernment organization based in Bacolod, said it was searching for donors for boats to be given to at least 9,500 fishermen in northern Panay and 981 in Negros Occidental province.
Millie Kilayko, NVC president, said the group launched the campaign mainly through social media. Aside from the search for boat donors, Kilayko said NVC had also sent relief items to Yolanda survivors.
But Kilayko said giving boats to fishermen was as important as providing immediate relief to survivors.
The group’s campaign, called Peter Project 2, is focused on giving back to fishermen their basic livelihood tool—the boat.
As of Wednesday, NVC had received donations of 175 boats and would continue to solicit more, Kilayko said.
She said NVC volunteers would visit fishing communities and search for qualified beneficiaries using data from government agencies, like the social welfare department.
Once an individual qualifies to become a beneficiary of Peter Project 2, he would be asked to sign an agreement stating he could not sell or rent out his boat. NVC would also keep records of the catch of fishermen who received donated boats and report these to the donors by e-mail.
Salvador France, Pamalakaya vice chair, in a statement, said the number of fishermen who had lost their boats when Yolanda struck in Eastern Visayas and other areas was close to 100,000.
The 1,300 fishing boats that the DA planned to distribute was good for only one fishing village in Tacloban City, said France.
On Monday, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala announced the DA was overseeing the construction of 1,300 fishing boats equipped with 5-horsepower engines to help fishermen return to their source of livelihood and soften Yolanda’s impact on the country’s food security.
Citing his group’s own study, France said more than half of the number of casualties in Yolanda-ravaged provinces in the Visayas and Palawan and Mindoro provinces were fishermen.
France said the 100,000 fishing boats should be distributed for free to fishermen in the provinces of Leyte, Samar, northern Cebu, northern Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Guimaras, northern Negros, Palawan, Masbate, Mindoro Oriental and Mindoro Occidental.
Quoting Alcala, France said the damage to the fishery sector in Eastern Visayas wrought by Yolanda could reach P1 billion.