Gov. Arthur Defensor, Sr. with Provincial Agriculturist Dr. Ildefonso Toledo inspect the Bantay Dagat patrol boats in Concepcion, Iloilo in this file photo taken January 2016.
The Iloilo Provincial Bantay Dagat Task Force (IPBDTF) received another commendation for their successful implementation of anti-illegal fishing campaign, this time from the environmental movement Pasalamat sa Katauhan with endorsement from the United Nations (UN) – Environment. The commendation was presented to them by environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa, Jr. last Saturday, July 22, 2017, during the Visayan Sea Governors Meeting in Sicogon Island, Carles, Iloilo.
“We write to express our sincere congratulations for your perseverance in the implementation of the anti-illegal fishing campaign in the good Province of Iloilo since 2010. We also commend the unwavering dedication and sincerity of every member of the crew and the police officers. Their sleepless nights – away from home and loved ones – to guard the Visayan Sea deserves no less than the brightest spotlight of recognition by a grateful people,” says the commendation letter signed by Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer Clemente, retired Supreme Court chief justice Hilario Davide, Jr., Atty. Oposa, Durwood Zaelke of the Institute of Governance and Sustainable Development based in Washington DC, and Andrew Raine of the UN Environment which is based in Bangkok, Thailand.
The group recognized the efforts of the IPBDTF to strictly enforce fishery laws which “immensely contributed to the waning of illegal fishing activities and significantly improved the condition of marine habitats and the livelihood of the often-disadvantaged small fishermen.” It also acknowledged the “noble services” of IPBDTF in responding to the medical and emergency needs of the people in the island barangays through its two patrol boats cum sea ambulances.
The two patrol boats cum sea ambulances were built through a donation from the Italian firm D’Amico Shipping Company which was facilitated by the Italian Embassy last 2015.
Governor Arthur Defensor, Sr., who launched the massive anti-illegal fishing campaign when he returned as governor in 2010, said the Bantay Dagat commendation is a welcome recognition of their good performance. Defensor said it is a product of the hardwork and dedication of the Bantay Dagat operatives in the performance of their duties.
Provincial Administrator Raul Banias, who supervises the operations of the IPBDTF, said the commendation should serve as inspiration to the operatives to work harder in order to protect our marine resources. Banias noted that the consistent operation of IPBDTF has greatly benefited marginal fishers. “We have received feedback from fishermen that they already have abundant catch,” said Banias.
He, however, observed that there are still persistent violators but he assured that the Bantay Dagat will pursue them and the campaign against all forms of illegal fishing activities will be unrelenting.
Meanwhile, Pasalamat sa Katauhan also commended Iloilo’s Provincial Agriculturist Dr. Ildefonso Toledo for his idea of putting up the first and only Climate Field School (CFS) in the country.
Toledo established CFS in Dumangas, Iloilo to teach farmers on how to adapt to the adverse impacts of the climate crisis.