By Jezza A. Nepomoceno
ILOILO – A 35-year-old fisherman could not imagine his self locked away from his family after he was caught using an improvised dynamite off the coast of Colebra Island in Concepcion.
Benjie F. Lacson of Barangay Alipata, Carles left his wife and two children home when he was arrested by Iloilo Provincial Bantay Dagat Task Force on May 28.
Seized from his possession were six kilos of dynamited assorted fishes which were positively examined by Antonio Lobredo of Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College-Concepcion Campus.
According to Task Force Team Leader PO3 Charlie Asturias, the poor fisherman claimed that poverty forced him to venture into the deadly dynamite fishing to support the daily needs of his growing family.
“He said it was because of poverty,” said Asturias after filing the complaint for violation of Section 92 of Republic Act 10654 against Lacson before the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor on May 30.
But the arresting officer emphasized that poverty could not be a justification for a crime and the erring fisherman has to answer for his actions.
Lacson is said to post a surety bond for his temporary liberty and will undergo trial as scheduled by the court.
Dynamite and other forms of illegal fishing remain a major concern in the Visayan Sea despite the relentless effort of provincial governments of Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Masbate and Cebu to protect the rich fishing ground.
The governors of the four provinces previously agreed to push for the declaration of the Visayan Sea as National Marine Reserve Area to impose heavy restrictions on commercial fishing in the area.
The proposal will be subject of discourse among concerned parties during the upcoming public hearing on June 1 as part of the 7th Governor’s Summit on the Alliance of Province for the Protection of the Visayan Sea in Villa, Iloilo City.
If the declaration earns the support of Congress and Malacañang, the entire 10,000 square kilometers area of Visayan Sea will only be open to small, marginal or subsistence fishermen.