Senator Cynthia Villar exhorted the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to continue to help boost the country’s agricultural sector and eventually alleviate the lives of farmers and fisherfolks.
Speaking during the launch of the PCG Auxiliary Eco Projects and Awarding of Fishery Livelihood Assistance in Subic Bay, Zambales, Villar acknowledged that the activities and projects of the group are in consonance with her advocacies and priorities.
“Like what I said last year, when I was conferred the honorary rank of Commodore by the Philippine Coast Guard, I really feel a social kinship in our Coast Guard because your mandate is not only maritime security but also marine protection,” said the veteran legislator.
As an environmentalist and chair of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, the seasoned lawmaker said protection of the environment is among those closest to her heart.
In particular, the lady senator said “protecting our marine environment, which is also among the mandates of the Coast Guard, is important for the fisheries sector.”
Moreover, as chair of the Senate Agriculture and Food committee, Villar said she has greater appreciation of protecting our environment, being a “source” of food.
“Yes, there is a huge link between that and our agriculture sector and the future food security. We know that the fisheries sector is a big part of our agriculture sector,” she said.
Villar related that agriculture contributes over 10 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product and fisheries contributes 15 to 18 percent to the agriculture sector.
She also said she has not stopped in pushing for legislative measures which would help improve the sector that would redound to the benefits of farmers and fisherfolks, who comprise majority or 40 percent of Filipinos living below the poverty line.
Villar cited the passage into law of Republic Act 10654 or the Act to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The enactment of the law, she noted, was instrumental in the lifting of the yellow tag imposed by the European Union, which if not immediately addressed, would cause a ban on the exportation of our fish products in Europe–one of the country’s largest markets.
Villar said the new law provides stricter guidelines and higher penalties for illegal fishers. She said this would help the fisheries sector since the penalties will be allocated for fishery law enforcement and assistance to poor fisherfolks.