Mayor urges LGUs to pool resources for red tide task force
by Ninfa Quirante
Catbalogan, Samar (3 December) -– "Let us pool our resources!"
This was the challenge posed by Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento to the members of the Samar Red Tide Task Force (RTTF) in a meeting recently held in Calbayog City.
The mayor requested the Task Force to also seek the assistance of the LGUs along the coastal areas of Samar which have been affected by the red tide toxins.
To sustain the weekly monitoring of the Task Force, members themselves shared the fuel requirements.
It was learned that some 80 liters of diesel is needed for a single day monitoring stint, Php. 1500 for the chartered motorboat and some five hundred pesos for the TF members meals. The Task Force’s funding requirements was pegged at Php. 4,800.00 per monitoring episode.
Due to the funding concern, the Task Force reduced its monitoring to just once a week and members also sought the assistance of Board Members. Arcadio Quijano and Cesario Ricafort Chairpersons of the Committee on Agriculture in Districts 1 and 2, respectively. Ricafort vowed to convince Governor Milagrosa Tan to spare the Task Force some amount from the provincial coffers to sustain the monitoring activities.
The Task Force monitoring activities are deemed important to check on the presence of the red tide-causing organism so that proper recommendations can be drafted.
The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist has organized the Task Force whose members include the Bureau of Fishery and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Samar State University (SSU), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), the Local Government Units (LGUs) of Villareal, Tarangnan, Catbalogan, and Jiabong, as well as PIA.
Presently, the temporary shellfish ban stays until such time that the water and meat samples yield negative counts of the dreaded toxins.
Another issue that cropped up during the meeting was a request from the Jiabong Mussel Farmers seeking a selective ban on affected areas that are the only ones affected, and to the let the Jiabong ship its mussels as it has registered negative results. The Task Force was quick to reply that no such isolation can be done as there is just one body of water and that the movement of water in Maqueda Bay and Samar seas in continuous and what maybe non-toxic today maybe affected the next day.
Instead, the farmers were advised to just look for alternative sources of income and not to compromise the safety of the consuming public.
Meanwhile, it was learned that no shipment of mussel or tahong can be done without any issuance of an auxiliary invoice signed by the Municipal Agriculturist and noted by the Mayor. This process is done to ensure the safety of the consumers.
In the meantime, while still waiting for the LGUs to pool resources, Red Tide Task Force will continue with its mission with the support of the member-agencies. (PIA-Samar) [top]