A member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan wants to place several barangays in the Malampaya Sound safe inlet in Taytay town, northern Palawan, under a state of calamity due to the red tide occurrence in the area that has crippled its local shellfish industry.
Board Member Roseller Pineda, a resident of Taytay, said that barangays in the Inner Malampaya Sound should be placed under states of calamity as residents are now having financial difficulties since they cannot sell their produce.
“The barangays in the Inner Sound of Malampaya Sound that rely on shellfish, shrimp, and crab farming, those directly affected by the shellfish ban, should be assisted in their livelihood through funds that will be provided when a state of calamity is declared,” Pineda said.
Declared as a protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) and Presidential Proclamation No. 342 on July 12, 2000, the Malampaya Sound covers 22 barangays.
Around 18 of these are within the political boundary of Taytay, and the rest are within San Vicente municipality, also in northern Palawan.
On July 28, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) declared the red tide occurrence in the Inner Malampaya Sound and issued a warning against consuming shellfish from the area which can cause health risks such paralytic shellfish poisoning.
The advisory came following the death of a 27-year old resident and the hospitalization of 17 others who had ingested mussel shells, locally known as “tahong” on the same day.
In Tuesday’s session, Pineda said in the privilege hour that the shellfish ban has made daily life problematic for shellfish farmers, as well as shrimp and crab growers that the Malampaya Sound is known for.
“Concerned agencies like the PDRRMO (Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office) and the Office of the Provincial Agriculture (OPA) should make interventions,” he said.
“The main livelihood of the people of the Malampaya Sound is in the area. It is very significant that they be placed under states of calamity,” he added.
Board Member Winston Arzaga, also of the 1st Palawan District, expressed support to Pineda’s initiative by saying “the matter of the shellfish ban because of red tide is often open-ended.”
“We don’t know when the ban will be lifted. While the ban is enforced, it is our constituents there, whose livelihood are affected, who need immediate assistance.