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House ok’s bill on fisherfolk resettlement

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a landmark legislation that seeks to provide permanent resettlement sites for fisherfolk and their families.

Rep. Leo Rafael Cueva, who chairs the House Committee on Aquaculture and Fisheries Resources, said that House Bill 6876, or An Act Mandating the Establishment of Fisherfolk Resettlement Areas by the Department of Agriculture, Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, and the Local Government Units, amending for the purpose Section 108 of Republic Act No. 8550, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, as amended by RA 10654, hopes to alleviate the lives of thousands of fishermen in the country.

Cueva defended the legislation, originally authored by Rep. John Reynald Tiangco of Navotas, in the plenary.

“This is a landmark piece of legislation that is seen to bail out fisherfolk throughout the country from their present living conditions, especially with the pandemic still in our midst,” Cueva said.

With its approval, HB 6876 will go to the Senate for deliberations and eventual adoption and passage. It will then be finalized and reconciled at the bicameral committee for concurrence before it is signed into law by the President.

The law enjoins the DHSUD, the DA, and the LGUs to jointly implement the permanent on-site housing development so that the fishing families will not be uprooted from their place of livelihood, Cueva said.

Tiangco said that he pushed for the bill’s passage because ,20 years since the signing of the Fisheries Code of 1998, “there has been very little progress, if any, towards the establishment of settlement areas for fisherfolk.”

“As a result, fisherfolk continue to be a very vulnerable sector, continually displaced not only by natural calamities, but also by industrial and tourism-related development,” Tiangco said. The measure, Cueva said during the plenary, aims to strengthen the mandate, and facilitate the establishment of resettlement areas for fisherfolk by including the LGUs of coastal areas, and the newly-created DHSUD as co-implementing agencies of the DA.*

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