DENR 7 FILES CASE AGAINST 30 PERSONS OVER ILLEGAL FISHING

19 October 2015

 guihulngan apprehension-1

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 has filed recently a case against 30 persons for violation of Section 20 of Republic Act Number 7586 known as the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992.

This came after a joint seaborne operation was conducted by the DENR with operatives from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) 7 and the Philippine National Police (PNP) wherein two illegal commercial fishing vessels were caught illegally fishing in the waters within the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape (TSPS) area.

DENR 7 Regional Director Dr. Isabelo R. Montejo instructed all DENR enforcement division staff along with protected areas superintendents and all protected area rangers to conduct a regular monitoring and surveillance operation on illegal fishing activities in the region.

In a charged sheet which was received by the Negros Oriental Provincial Prosecutor's Office last October 8, 2015, it mentioned the facts and circumstances constituting the alleged offenses as narrated in the affidavit of foresters Percival Fiel, Melchor Rhett Sarmago, and Alvin Bayucot.

As stipulated in the incident report, during the operation conducted last September 24, 2015 at around 4 o'clock in the morning, the team spotted FB San Vicente Ferrer owned by Fredo Scoba with its crew displaying actual illegal fishing activities and confiscated around 15 fish coolers where three are fully filled with assorted fishes including ropes, battery, one fish net, one sinker, engine, plastic barrel and fish finder.

At least 12 crew members of FB San Vicente Ferrer were charged to include Fredo Escoba, 57 years old; Julito Carriaga, 48; Sidriele Cardona, 32; Niño Sostres, 22; Danny Salud, 27; Sixto Dio, 32; Roque Fajardo, 27; Daryl Abson, 24; Anthony Bilita, 22; Jonas Licanda, 20; Fretz Dumagil, 34; and John Warren Mergal, 45, all from Sta Filomena, Alegria, Cebu.

However, minutes later, another illegal fishing vessel FB Sto. Niño owned by a certain Florante Jara was flagged down where the team seized 15 fish coolers, three ropes, one fishnet, scope net, one empty gallon and a fish finder.

There were 18 crew members to include Florante Jara, Paquito Alpuerto, Gerald Bustamante, Filemon Sardemio, Danilo Jara, Robert Tagonton, Elende Flores, Jim Abreo, Teddy Calumba, Enrico Entera, Jay Baguio, Jerome Caliao, Reynard Mondico, John Carl Balasbas, Bambit Caliora, Peter Calumba, and Reanie Calumba, all from Barangay Camandayon, Jimalalud, Negros Oriental.

Both failed to show legal documents before the team. All crews were then turned over to the Philippine National Police Bindoy Police Station for police blotter and detention.

In a related development, another two fishing vessels were apprehended in another surveillance operation conducted last October 10, the said fishing vessels were illegally fishing along the coast of Barangay Zaragosa, Badian, Cebu and along the coast of Barangay Bulado, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

"Our team is still preparing all the needed documents for the filing of case for these offenders, we will file the case maybe by next week," said Montejo.

Montejo also added that more operations will be conducted in various illegal fishing hotspots especially within the marine protected areas in the region.

The TSPS, which lies between the islands Negros and Cebu and covers 521,018 hectares and borders 677 kilometers, is among the country's top 10 major fishing grounds where about 26,000 fishers operate. It has also been regarded as an important migration corridor for whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals, making it a preferred destination for whale-watchers, conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts.

The TSPS was declared a protected seascape by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 1234 signed by then President Fidel V. Ramos last May 27, 1998 in recognition of its extraordinary abundance and diverse assemblage of dolphins, whales and other marine species.

Under RA 7586, section 20 it says "Prohibited Acts. – Except as may be allowed by the nature of their categories and pursuant to rules and regulations governing the same, the following acts are prohibited within protected areas: (a) hunting, destroying, disturbing, or mere possession of any plants or animals or products derived therefrom without a permit from the Management Board; (b) dumping of any waste products detrimental to the protected area, or to the plants and animals or inhabitants therein; (c) use of any motorized equipment without a permit from the Management Board; (d) mutilating, defacing or destroying objects of natural beauty, or objects of interest to cultural communities (of scenic value); (e) damaging and leaving roads and trails in a damaged condition; (f) squatting, mineral locating, or otherwise occupying any land; (g) constructing or maintaining any kind of structure, fence or enclosures, conducting any business enterprise without a permit; (h) leaving in exposed or unsanitary conditions refuse or debris, or depositing in ground or in bodies of water; and (i) altering, removing destroying or defacing boundary marks or signs.


The penalties under section 21 says "whoever violates this Act or any rules and regulations issued by the Department pursuant to this Act or whoever is found guilty by a competent court of justice of any of the offenses in the preceding section shall be fined in the amount of not less than Five thousand pesos (P5,000) nor more than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000), exclusive of the value of the thing damaged or imprisonment for not less than one (1) year but not more than six (6) years, or both, as determined by the court: Provided, that, if the area requires rehabilitation or restoration as determined by the court, the offender shall be required to restore or compensate for the restoration to the damages: Provided, further, that court shall order the eviction of the offender from the land and the forfeiture in favor of the Government of all minerals, timber or any species collected or removed including all equipment, devices and firearms used in connection therewith, and any construction or improvement made thereon by the offender. If the offender is an association or corporation, the president or manager shall be directly responsible for the act of his employees and laborers: Provided, finally, that the DENR may impose administrative fines and penalties consistent with this Act".

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