Group to Aquino: Use P20-B stand-by funds to finance search and rescue operations of 300 missing fishermen

THE fisherfolk group urged the Office of the President to use the P20-billion in stand-by fund for this year to finance a massive search and rescue operations on 315 missing fishermen on fishing grounds and nearby coastal areas affected by typhoon Pablo.

The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the government has fishing boats and can commission private boats and ships for massive search and rescue operations.

The groups said the Aquino government should confront operators of tuna companies based in General Santos City for their failure to heed the warning about the incoming super typhoon that will cross and hit Mindanao areas.

“These tuna firms were advised to temporarily shelve their operations because of the incoming perfect storm. But they did not heed to the advisory and instead they pursued their perpetual thirst for precious tuna and gambled the lives of fish workers. How come Malacanang is silent on these greedy tuna fishing groups in Mindanao?” the groups asked.

The group said they were puzzled why the Philippine Coast Guard stationed in General Santos still allowed tuna fishing boats to sail and fish for tuna despite the very strong weather forecast about typhoon Pablo.

The PCG in GenSan confirmed that more than 300 fishemen working for six major tuna companies in this city are still missing based on the report submitted by Rugela Fishing, RAFI Incorporated, RLG Fishing, DSG Fishing, LPS Fishing and Salazar Fishing.

The 6 tuna companies acknowledged that 46 tuna fishing boats and its crew members were still unaccounted as of Saturday last week.

The tuna firms submitted documents containing the identification of fish workers and ship crew, including other details such as number of fisherworkers on board of these tuna fishing boats at the time typhoon Pablo pounded General Santos City and other provinces in Mindanao.

“The national government, the local government and the owners of tuna fishing fleets should refrain from blaming the tuna fish workers. Definitely it is not the fault of tuna fish workers. These small people and modern-day slaves in tuna factories are the victims here. It is the fault of few moneyed people who regularly make huge money from extracting tuna off Mindanao waters,” the group asserted.

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