An opposition lawmaker on Saturday urged the government to provide additional support for Filipino fishermen, particularly those fishing in the western seaboard.
Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano made the call amid the recent spate of issues on the contested West Philippine Sea.
“Harassment of Filipino fisherfolk by the Chinese, in the West Philippine Sea is real and happening,” Alejano, a member of the House opposition, said.
He also appealed to the leadership of the House of Representatives to prioritize the passage of pending bills at the Lower House that calls for Coast Guard modernization.
One of which is House Bill 111 authored by Alejano.
Alejano, a former Marine officer, said the government should help the Filipino fishermen by establishing guidelines on how to deal with tensions in contested areas.
“Local government units and other relevant agencies should be tapped to discuss and clarify with the fishing communities their role on the issue and what actions to take when fishing in our waters in the West Philippine Sea,” Alejano said.
“Moreover, there is a need to consolidate the various fisherfolk organizations for better and easier coordination with the local government,” he added.
Alejano also said the government needs to provide small-scale fisherfolk with fishing vessels and other equipment that would ease their navigation in farther seas.
The lawmaker proposed to develop a system for scheduled fishing missions which will be accompanied by the Philippine Coast Guard.
“Being a maritime nation, there should be no question in modernizing our coast guard. At the start of the 17th Congress, I filed a measure calling for such. My office has been coordinating with the PCG and we are hoping that the House leadership would see the urgency and merit of the passage of the bill,” he said.