GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Maritime police units arrested a total of 1,852 violators of various fishery regulations and criminal elements this year in a series of law enforcement and security operations in parts of the Sarangani Bay.
Lt. Col. Harry Domingo, acting chief of the Philippine National Police Regional Maritime Unit (RMU)-12, said Monday that most of the violators were caught during their patrol operations from January to September in the coastal waters of this city and nearby localities.
A total of 1,744 persons were nabbed for violating local fishery ordinances and 108 others for illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities, Domingo said.
“Most of the violations involved the encroachment of unregistered fishing vessels weighing 3.1 gross tons and below within the protected zones and municipal waters of localities within the Sarangani Bay, which is a declared protected seascape,” he said in an interview.
IUU fishing, as provided for in Republic Act (RA) 10654 or the amended Fisheries Code, involves the use of unlicensed boats, fishing in a closed area, fishing with prohibited gear, fishing over a quota, and the fishing of prohibited species.
The official said the maritime police also arrested 10 suspects for violation of RA 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act, three suspects for violation of Presidential Decree (PD) 705 or the Forestry Code, and one for Republic Act 9175 or the Chainsaw Act.
The arrests resulted in the collection of PHP711,465 in fines by local government units in the area.
He said the RMU-12 also assisted in the enforcement and processing of the violations related to the grounding last May of fishing vessels FB Mark Anthony 17 and FB Vient that led to the payment of PHP3.8 million in fines and indemnification to the Protected Area Management Office of the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape.
Domingo said 180 persons were also nabbed for violation of local ordinances, 148 for crimes under the Revised Penal Code and other special laws, 62 for violation of RA 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, and 10 persons for violation of RA 10591 or the Firearms Law.
Three wanted persons were also arrested during the period, with two of them allegedly involved in the ambush of maritime police personnel in the coastal waters here on Nov. 28, 2019.
The incident resulted in the killing of a maritime policeman.
From January to December this year, the RMU-12 logged a total of 1,184 operational accomplishments, increasing by 1,077 when compared to the 107 in the entire 2019.
Based on its accomplishment report, the unit conducted 510 operations against IUU fishing, with 495 involving violations of local fishery ordinances and 15 for violation of RA 10654.
The unit filed a total of 26 cases in various courts, with 15 involving violations of RA 10654, one for violation of the Tariff and Customs Code, four for violation of PD 705, and six for other crimes.
Domingo said they also assisted the enforcement of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) protocols as well as other local ordinances.
In this city, he said their units conducted 180 operations related to the implementation of the smoking ban and Covid-19 measures such as the wearing of face masks and the observance of safe physical distancing. (PNA)