Cannery workers protest new BFAR rule

by Jewel Reyes, ABS-CBN News Zamboanga

Posted at Jul 26 2011 02:52 AM | Updated as of Jul 26 2011 07:15 PM

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Around 300 workers of the different cannery and fishing companies in Zamboanga City held a rally on Monday in front of the office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Roseller Lim Boulevard.

Joel Bradi, a production worker of a sardines company, said that the full implementation of the Fisheries Administrative Order No. 233 will cause massive lay-off of workers since businesses will no longer afford to pay additional export costs.

Maria Melinda Macahis, who has been working more than 2 decades in the industry, said she is worried about the future of her children if their company decides to lay off workers.

She said the production of sardines in Zamboanga will be affected if the law is implemented.

However, BFAR officials in Zamboanga City denied that there is already an order to implement the measure.

Pedling Munap of the BFAR's Fisheries Resources and Management Division (FRND) said there are ongoing dialogues between the agency, labor groups, and businessmen to determine a "win-win" solution.

Munap said the drafting of the law was made based on a thorough consultation of sectoral representatives.

He also said that the protest was reported to the BFAR's central office for further study of the law pending its implementation.

The BFAR-FAO 233 is pursuant to Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2004, wherein exporters are mandated to pay a levy of 3% export value on all economically important products that include sardines, seaweed, and other marine species.