Senator Francis Tolentino (PNA file photo)

MANILA– Senator Francis Tolentino said on Sunday the Senate must proceed with its investigation on the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) crackdown on the illegal selling of pompano and salmon in wet markets despite the moratorium issued on Friday.

In a radio interview over DZBB, Tolentino said the Senate committee on agriculture must not only look into the 23-year-old Fisheries Administrative Order No. 195 which the crackdown was based but also other issues confronting BFAR.

“Lahat ng isyu sa BFAR dapat masilip iyan, lalo na ang kanilang mga kautusan,” (All issues in BFAR should be looked into, especially its orders),” Tolentino said.

“Nakakagulat lang biglang implementasyon ng FAO No. 195, kasi Christmas season tapos ililimit lamang sa canning and processing. Ang mga tao, deserving naman na kumain ng pompano at salmon, so very discriminatory ang kautusang ito (The sudden implementation of FAO No. 195 is surprising. It’s Christmas season and then it will only be limited to canning and processing. People deserve to eat pompano and salmon, so this law is very discriminatory),” he said.

Despite the moratorium issued against the implementation of the order, Tolentino believed that it is about time BFAR should revise the order.

“Kahit na may moratorium na, para maiwasan na ito in the future, dapat malaman kung anong basis nila bakit in-implement ito. Bakit hindi ni-revise, bakit itinapat sa closed fishing season?(Even if there is a moratorium, to avoid this in the future, we must know what basis they implemented it on. Why was it not revised, why did it coincide with the closed fishing season?),” he said.

Aside from FAO No. 195, he said BFAR should also explain why the implementation of FAO 195, the closed fishing season, and the plan to import 25,000 metric tons of galunggong happened all at the same time.

Earlier, some senators have described FAO 195 as anti-poor and discriminatory and called for the immediate review of the order adding that this is already outdated.

The order was first issued in 1999 but was only questioned this year.

It outlawed the sale of pink salmon and pompano in wet markets, to give fisherfolk the priority to sell their catch.

BFAR was supposed to start the crackdown on selling salmon on pompano in wet markets Dec. 4.

However, the agency decided to issue a moratorium after lawmakers questioned the order. (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)