Critics wrong on fiberglass boat aid to rescue fishermen: Piñol

BANGKOK – Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Saturday said critics had been proven wrong by the sea trials, which were conducted by the 22 Filipino fishermen involved in the Reed Bank incident when these boats floated and functioned as expected.

“The 12 units of fiberglass fishing boats given by the government to the crew of FB GEM-VER, which critics earlier said will sink and equipped with under-rated engines passed the sea trials conducted today by the fishermen themselves supervised by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR),” Piñol said.

He said contrary to what critics had said, the fiberglass boats floated.

“These video footages and photos will prove who is stupid,” Piñol said.

He said the video footage was taken by the BFAR and was sent to him by BFAR MIMAROPA Director Elizer Salilig “showed the fiberglass boats powered by 18HP diesel engines skimming on the waters off San Jose, Mindoro Occidental early today.”

“In the video, the roar of the engines and the laughter of the happy fishermen could be heard,” he said.

The 12 boats were provided to the fishermen under the Department of Agriculture's FB Pagbabago Program. Aside from the boats, they were also given other gears, including life jackets.

“The fishermen were given the boats and other assistance after their fishing boat was rammed and destroyed by a Chinese vessel in the Recto Bank (on June 9),” Piñol said.

He said to date, the DA has given out at least 15,000 similar fishing boats to fishermen since President Rodrigo Duterte’s victory in 2016.

“The boats are designed for municipal waters and fabricated by the fishermen themselves who are paid for their labor,” he said. (PNA)

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