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Cong. Cari asks Congress to amend IRA sharing

Hon. Jose Carlos "Boying" Cari, Congressman of the 5th district of Leyte

BAYBAY CITY – A neophyte congressman, who is also known to be a staunch ally of environmentalists in Eastern Visayas, has asked Congress to amend the sharing scheme of the Internal Revenue Allotment pie of the country, to include a certain percentage for coastal cities and towns which they should use exclusively for the protection of their seas.
Congressman Carlos L. Cari of the 5th district here has filed House Bill 03073 or “An act providing for a change in the allocation of the Internal Revenue Allotment received by Cities and Municipalities to include Coastal Areas with the aim of developing and preserving the country’s fisheries and aquatic resources”.
Cari, in an interview, said he expects support from the coastal cities and towns to the measure, but is also expecting opposition from landlocked ones considering it would mean a slight reduction in their IRA.
He estimates that if passed, coastal cities and towns will get additional funds for the sole purpose of marine protection and promotion of around P4-Billion per year.
The measure is now pending at the house committee on local government and had its first reading on September 13.
The congressman said that if the country is serious about protecting its seas and conserving marine ecology, funds should be poured into it and he is suggesting that this be done through his proposed bill.
He pointed out that the Philippines, a country with more than 7,000 islands, has a vast coastline and his measure would benefit more coastal cities and towns.
The congressman, a neophyte solon but a three-term mayor of Baybay, a coastal city, said he knows what he is talking about.
When he was mayor, he recalled, he put serious effort to protecting the seas and conserving its ecology but they could hardly move because of lack of funds. Nonetheless, it did not faze him. To stretch whatever funds there were available, he innovated.
A civil engineer, he designed concrete artificial reefs that served its purpose but cost half of the usual design.  The marine sanctuaries he established during his time are still there, he pointed out, and the fishes have come back already. But then, so much more has to be done, he added.
He also organized the Bantay Dagat patrols of his city but added that his efforts still fell short because of the lack of funds. He said that to encourage the Bantay Dagat to work efficiently, they must be have a decent salary or honoraria, have the proper gear and equipment, and even the needed firepower to fight illegal fishers.
It was also during his time as mayor that Baybay’s Fisheries Code was passed. Cari also was considered by environmental activists in the region as their number one ally, supporting them in their campaigns to promote the welfare of the environment.
Baybay has also a local ordinance rejecting commercial scale mining, even large scale sand and gravel quarrying.
As for the cause of protecting the country’s marine resources, all these could be easier if a certain fund is allocated for it. This is the purpose why he is pushing for the fund allocation to be amended, taking note that even landlocked areas would benefit from it. They also eat fish and marine produce, he pointed out.
Other noteworthy bills that the congressman has filed that is of national significance is a law mandating compulsory coverage of househelpers with the PhilHealth and an act authorizing LGU’s and public officers to secure the services of special or private lawyers in criminal, civil and special proceeding cases.
The former, he said, was previously filed by his mother but failed to pass the House. Cari is the son of former three-term congresswoman Carmen Loreto-Cari, who is now back as mayor of Baybay. By Lalaine M. Jimenea

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