LEGAZPI CITY: Chief Supt. Victor Deona, the Bicol police regional director, has submitted himself for investigation to the National Police Commission (Napolcom) office here over allegations he received bribes related to illegal fishing activities.
Deona asked that he be investigated on Saturday during the Regional Advisory Council (RAC) meeting presided by Rep. Leni Robredo of Camarines Sur that was attended by Napolcom Regional Director Eduardo Santos Jr., Bishop Joel “Bong” Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi, ranking police officials and other members of the council here.
Deona personally requested the Napolcom official to conduct a thorough investigation regarding the illegal fishing payola so his name will eventually be cleared.
He admitted prior to his appointment as Bicol regional police chief that the Bicol Philippine National Police (PNP) has been receiving payola from illegal fishing activities. Deona claims he has stopped the practice of taking bribes from illegal fishing activities in Bicol’s rich waters.
Deona is accused of receiving “grease money” from illegal fishing activities after a series of big-time commercial fishing vessels reportedly owned by local mayors in Quezon province were apprehended and now under court litigation in Masbate and Sorsogon provinces.
Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi, who was formerly assigned in the island province of Masbate and has been fighting illegal fishing activities, admitted before the RAC meeting that the said activities is difficult to curtail as commercial fishing entities are operating under the impunity of local officials in the province.
“Illegal fishing activities in Masbate are very difficult to curtail. Most of the big-time commercial fishing vessels operators are armed,” the prelate said.
Robredo, also the RAC chairman, said massive illegal fishing in also taking place in Camarines Sur and Masbate.
She asked Baylon to form a special task force from church groups across the region to investigate the extent of illegal fishing operations in the Bicol region.
Robredo said Deona’s accomplishment on illegal fishing could not be questioned as the Bicol top cop enforced a remarkable task to get rid of big-time commercial fishers despite lack of equipment.
Deona said big-time illegal fishing operators that exploit the waters of Bicol came from Zamboanga, Negros Occidental, Iloilo and Quezon provinces. They operate within the waters of Burias Pass and Asid Gulf.
Another group, the Lucena-Quezon group, operates in Burias Pass and Ragay Gulf, local fishermen who are complaining about the illegal fishing activities said.
Also operating in these areas are the Bicol group and the Navotas-Malabon-Cebu group, which also operate in Sibuyan Sea and are equipped with state-of-the-art fish finders and armed men, the Bicol top cop told The Manila Times.
“At nighttime, the Burias Pass is like a ‘city of light’ or a metropolis due to the presence of mushrooming pangulong commercial fishing vessels with super lights and equipped with fish finders and sonar detectors, and haul fish, big or small, sadly destroying the coral reefs, especially in Masbate and Albay’s west coast as illegal fishers, mostly commercial fishers, operating in Bicol waters raping our seas,” Deona said.
He said the pangulong operation is the most damaging to Bicol waters.
“There’s heavy pressure on the PNP but we are serious in our campaign to save our marine resources while there is time. We need to act together to curtail illegal fishing to save our seas and biodiversity,” Deona pointed out.
The pangulong fishing boat drags a gaping net along the seabed and the trawl nets capture anything in their path and seriously damage what are on the seafloor.
This fishing method is prohibited by the Fisheries Code of the Philippine of 1998.