01 June 2015

DFA holds multi-sectoral forum in SBFZ on the West Philippine Sea

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) held a nationwide information, education and communication (IEC) campaign on the West Philippine Sea.

In partnership with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), a Multi-Sectoral Forum in Subic, Olongapo in Region 3 was held Friday (May 29).

DFA Spokesperson and Assistant Secretary Charles C. Jose spoke about the West Philippine Sea issue to an audience of 180, who came from different sectors of society across the region.

In attendance were representatives of the regional offices of various national government agencies including the DFA, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Science and Technology (DoST), and from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), among others. Officials from the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), representatives of the local government units of Olongapo City and Subic, Zambales, uniformed personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), as well as various other local organizations were also present.

The event also drew a broad and varied participation from private sector groups, including representatives of several business locators in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ), members of the local press, academe, and university students.

Most importantly, leaders of the fisherfolk community in the Zambales area, whose traditional fishing grounds include Bajo de Masinloc and surrounding waters within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), attended the event.

They had the opportunity to engage Assistant Secretary Jose and BFAR Region 3 Director Wilfredo Cruz in a dialogue to share their personal experiences in fishing in the area of Bajo de Masinloc and also to express their concerns about their livelihood and general welfare.

The Multi-Sectoral Forum was held in the ballroom of Mansion Garden Hotel, located within the SBFZ.

The Multi-Sectoral Forum is an expanded version of the Special Kapihan ng Mamamayan on the West Philippine Sea. The first two rounds were held in Cebu City and Cagayan de Oro City earlier this year. The next round will be held in Laoag City in Region 1 this June. (Cristina Lee-Pisco, Journal)