P9.3B unspent BFAR funds crucial to fisherfolk – Pamalakaya
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-Pilipinas) lambasted the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for billions of funds unspent under Aquino regime.
According to the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department, from the year 2011 to 2014, there are almost P6.6B funds that was unused by BFAR. If we are to add the unspent P2.778B on the first half of 2015, the unobligated budget of BFAR will reach P9.3B.
“Despite BFAR’s 17% average annual budget increase, the fisherfolk remains the poorest among the poor due to the lack of adequate government support and genuine development programs. Even worse, the budget that was supposed to address the worsening plight of the fisherfolk are being withheld.” Salvador France, Pamalakaya vice-chairperson said in a statement.
An average of P2B annual BFAR funds weren’t spent for the welfare and livelihoods of the fisherfolk.
“Two out five Filipino fisherfolk suffer from intense poverty and a large chunk of the 3 million fisherfolk and fish workers suffer from drastic hunger. But it seems the increasing annual budget allotted for the fisherfolk was only a smokescreen to cut huge ‘savings’ for Aquino’s DAP!”
On 2013, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of the Aquino government received much criticism for getting funds from the ‘early and anticipated savings’ of government agencies.
“The unspent P9.3B is very crucial to the fisherfolk, especially these were the years when several strong typhoons, including Yolanda, have hit the communities and livelihoods of fisherfolk.” France said.
The General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2015 has allotted a P6.7B budget on BFAR for the year 2016. But the fisherfolk group fear that this huge budget might add to the previous unspent budgets of the bureau.
“BFAR owes it to the fisherfolk to explain this cruelty and release the budget to be used solely for the support and development of the Filipino fisherfolk and fisheries industry. Through Director Asis Perez, BFAR should explain where those billions of unobligated funds went.” France ended. ###