ILOILO – The provincial government, through its Provincial Bantay Dagat Task Force, is seeking the prosecution of the owners, boat captains and other high ranking officials manning the four hulbot-hulbot boats they apprehended this year.
Led by SPO1 Jose Ronnie Panes and PO3 Philip Canoso, the task force has filed criminal complaints against boat captains Herman Tanes et al. of F/B Bherry, Celso Zapa et. al. of F/B Julita and Ronald Santillan et. al. of F/B Rosal.
The recent case involved boat captain Ronilo Gallardo of Carles and owner Ronal Villanuena, who is currently at large, of Estancia whose 24 crews were caught fishing 8.28 kilometers from Gigantes Island, Brgy. Asluman, Carles last June 23.
They were facing charges for violation of Fisheries Administrative Order No. 246 that bans the operation of Danish seine and modified Danish seine in the country and Section 86 of Republic Act 10654, the provision that penalizes unauthorized fishing in the amended Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.
The complaint has been endorsed to the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office for inquest investigation and should there be a probable cause, an information will be filed in Branch 66 of Regional Trial Court in Barotac Viejo and in Balasan Municipal Circuit Trial Court.
Of the four complaints, only Tanes et al. had to face additional charges for violation of Presidential Decree 1829 or Penalizing Obstruction of Apprehension and Prosecution of Criminal Offenders after it “intentionally and deliberately cut their scaring lines” during the time of arrest.
According to Panes’ report, their actions left important evidences like the scaring lines, tom weight and fishing net at the bottom of the sea which could no longer be retrieved despite their diligent efforts.
“After their arrest, the legal battle begins. Our goal is to prosecute them all and the good thing about this is the fact that none of the complaints we filed have been dismissed,” stressed Panes in an interview.
Danish seine, including its modified form, is an active gear often used in commercial fishing. It consists of a conical net with a pair of wings, the end of which are connected to a rope that serves as scaring device hauled through a mechanical winch.
If found guilty, they will suffer for two to ten years of imprisonment and pay a hefty fine of P100,000-P500,000 under FAO 246, while a penalty of P150,000-P500,000 fine and six months of imprisonment will be imposed for medium-scale commercial fishing under Section 86 of RA 10654.