A lawmaker belonging to the National Unity Party (NUP) has filed a bill promoting the director and assistant directors of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to higher positions, in line with government efforts to protect and guarantee the sustainability of the country’s rich marine resources.
Under House Bill 2313 authored by NUP Rep. Benhur Salimbangon (4th district, Cebu), the BFAR director shall be promoted to the post of undersecretary, while his two assistant directors will be named assistant secretaries.
"Promoting BFAR officials to higher positions will give them an upper hand in dealing with their counterparts with regard to international trade negotiations and agreements," Salimbangon said.
The bill seeks to amend Republic Act 8550, otherwise known as the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.
Under the bill, BFAR's municipal and city fisheries officers will also be promoted to higher ranks as may be appropriate.
Salimbangon said BFAR officials would provide frontline services to help ensure that the Philippines’ fisheries and aquatic sectors are well-protected, in tune with current technological advances and have guaranteed access to local and international markets.
The Cebu legislator said the vastness of the Philippine maritime zone and its rich resources dictate that the country should have a marine-based economy.
"Our aquatic territory exceeding 220 million hectares is more than seven times our land territory which is only 30 million hectares," Salimbangon said.
"Being an archipelago of more than seven thousand islands, the Philippines should have been the center of the fishing industry in Asia," Salimbangon added.