BFAR – Eyed to be a department.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is being eyed to become a department of the national government so it can substantially carry out its duties as caretaker of the country’s marine resources.
In an interview with the media, BFAR National Director Attorney Asis Perez said the bill proposing the leveling up of BFAR to a department had already passed committee level deliberations at the House of Representatives. He is hoping that the Senate would take it up as its priority. He added he is looking forward to the fisheries bureau finally becoming a department before the term of President Benigno S. Aquino III ends in 2016. The conversion of BFAR into a regular executive department of the national government was among the major agenda of national fisherfolk director Natividad C. Gunayan of Lupon, Davao Oriental. Gunayan took a one-month stint as the alter ego of Perez in May this year as part of the observance of Farmers’ and Fisherfolk Month. Gunayan revealed moves of the fisherfolk sector to bring a position paper in the Senate as a show of strong support for the BFAR conversion into a department that had snowballed in 2005 particularly in fishing communities. At a ratio of one BFAR employee for every six islands in the Philippine archipelago, Perez said the fisheries bureau with only 1,200 regular employees nationwide is too small to handle the 7,107 total number of Philippine islands. Estimating employees to grow to about 4,000 once leveled up to a department status, the structure of the fisheries agency would become strong enough to institute reforms and to handle concerns even at the provincial level. “We are emasculated at the regional level only. We are fighting for provincial level plantilla (positions),” he told the media. Once an executive department, the agency would then have direct access to the Office of the President, “can directly talk with the National Economic and Development Authority, can get involved directly with the Economic Cluster,” Perez said. Once leveled as a department secretary, the fisheries head of the Philippines can stand on the same level with fisheries officials of other countries especially in Asia. “In other countries, their fisheries are departments but in the Philippines, we’re only a bureau,” he said. The campaign to turn BFAR into a department is supported by Agriculture Secretary Processo Alcala, who, Perez said, “is willing to let us go.” “Normally, a secretary is not willing to let go of an attached agency, but Secretary Alcala is actually lobbying for this,” Perez said. (CLC/RGA/JDA/PIA 11)
June 26, 2012 By slthemin By: Jeanevive D. Abangan DAVAO CITY