Posted by: Jimely Flores | February 26, 2015

The essence of democracy: nuances of the EC Yellow Card on Philippines Seafood Products

Two years ago the European Commission (EC) informed Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) that a yellow card might be issued on Philippines seafood exports to the European Union. Two years ago the BFAR knew that it needs to work immediately to really work on reforming the fisheries sector policies and business. Two years ago despite the early reminder, no action was made until the actual yellow card came out finally on June 2014 (http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-653_en.htm;

In the recent months since the yellow card came out BFAR, the House of Congressional Representative and the Senate fast-tracked the much needed reform starting with the revision of the Philippine Fisheries Code 8550 of 1995. However, on their rush to amend the law, they deny the consultation process with the relevant stakeholders (the consulation process is one of the essences of democracy – are we going back to dictatorship?). The private sectors left out of the legal process are thankfully not sleeping on their rights and they raised their voices high (http://www.rappler.com/nation/69371-philippines-fisheries-code-eu?variation=1&utm_expid=52036214-3.ZdNJcl7wRGKh5FrBYz8eLQ.1&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com.ph). That delays the process of amending the said law. Instead of fast tracking the process of adapting the amended law intime for the deadlines of EU, rigging the consultation process messed it up causing unwanted delays and setbacks. This is not even discussing the starkly obvious flaws in the amended law. It seems that in this administration rigging of democratic processes is more of the norm rather than an exception. I fear if further look would be given to the development of the Implementing Rules and Regulations for the Philippine Blue swimming crab Management Plan, such is also the case.

I hope soon things will change on this country. I fear for the continuing overfishing despite the loud noises created on solving IUU through rigorous law enforcement using guns and chasing boats. Are we really still this barbaric? The impact of climate change in the fisheries sector is hardly given attention. Improvement activities are more of ecosystem risks rather than creating possible solutions. Coastal wastes and marine debris is now more of a common sight. Harmful subsidies in the fisheries sector is becoming a charity act. I do not love to see such negative events but somehow they are so obvious and foolish to even say such may not exist.

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