Gov't eyes diesel subsidy to Zambo-based fishing group hard-hit by high oil prices
Manila (6 August) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has directed the Department of Energy (DOE) to study the possibility of providing subsidy to one of the country's largest fishing groups to ensure the steady supply of sardines in the country.
Press Secretary Jesus Dureza told member of the media covering Malacanang that the President wants the DOE to recommend measures to help the Southern Philippines Deep Sea Fishing Association (SPDSFA), whose operations have been severely affected by the high cost of diesel fuel.
Members of the Zamboanga-based SPDSFA, the largest commercial fishing group in Western Mindanao, have suspended their operations since Monday due to the high cost of diesel fuel.
Also with Dureza during the Malacanang press briefing were Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Secretary Cerge Remonde and Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
Dureza said the government is considering the possibility of providing a short-term diesel subsidy to the fishing vessel operators.
Also under study, he added, is the eventual conversion of the fishermen's boat engines from diesel-fed to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or compressed natural gas (CNG).
"Mahal ang krudo at hindi na viable. Yung cost ng krudo is so high na hindi na kikita sila. So kailangan nila ng tulong ngayon," Dureza said.
He pointed out that the proposed subsidy would ensure that the 16 fishing vessels belonging to the fishing group would go out and provide sufficient catch to sustain the operation of the sardine canning firms.
Helping the fishermen's group would prevent the shortage of canned sardines which had led to the soaring prices of the commodity, Dureza said.
In the long-term, the proposed subsidy will benefit consumers in terms of lower prices of sardines, he pointed out.
Remonde added that subsidies from the Katas ng VAT Alay sa Mangingisda would also benefit other fishermen affected by Typhoon "Frank," including fishermen in Romblon whose livelihoods have suffered for two months now because of the fish scare following the sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars. (PIA-MMIO) [top]