Executive director Ricardo Calderon of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office here said the boats cost worth P4 million.
They were turned over to the towns of San Antonio, San Felipe, Cabangan, Botolan, Palauig, Candelaria, Masinloc, and Sta. Cruz.
“Each boat is equipped with a 200 horsepower, four-cylinder engine and has safety and navigation equipment, including built-in GPS instruments, magnetic compass, radio transceivers, search lights, life jackets, and buoys,” Calderon said.
He said the distribution of patrol boats is part of the six-year Integrated Coastal Resources Management Program (ICRMP) being implemented in priority marine biodiversity corridors in seven coastal provinces, including Zambales, Cagayan, Romblon, Masbate, Cebu, Siquijor, and Davao Oriental.
“ICRMP aims to promote the sustainable management of the country’s coastal resources and increase the income of coastal communities,” Calderon said, adding that more than half of the country’s population live within the 100-kilometer radius of coastal zones.
San Felipe Mayor Carolyn Farinas accepted the patrol boats on behalf of the local chief executives. She said the patrol boats would boost local government efforts in managing coastal resources and in protecting municipal waters from destructive fishing.
“We can now say goodbye to dynamite fishers and hello to a more beautiful Zambales,” she said, even as she called on the other mayors to keep environmental protection and conservation on top of the local government agenda.
Farinas said that “with Zambales’ 170-kilometer coastline, it is high time that local government units invest on patrol boats just as they would on ambulances and fire trucks.”
Calderon said two more patrol boats are scheduled for distribution soon to the regional ICRMP Center in Candelaria and for the regional Bureau of Fisheries and the Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for their coastal resources management efforts.
In addition to the patrol boats, at least P12 million worth of infrastructure and social development projects are now in the pipeline for funding assistance in the towns of San Felipe, Palauig, and Sta. Cruz, with repayment schemes of up to 12 years and yearly interest rates of 9-10 percent, depending on the nature of approved projects, Calderon also said.
He said six more local government units in Zambales have already submitted their letters of intent to avail of loan and grant assistance for their infrastructure and social development projects and are now crafting their project proposals and feasibility studies.
Earlier, Environment Sec. Ramon Paje called for the mandatory creation of Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) in local government units to help them carry out their devolved environmental functions.
He also ordered a national stakeholders’ consultation to engage local government units in the discussion of issues on coastal resources management, saying the environment is not the exclusive domain of the DENR.
Launched in 2007, the ICRMP is funded by the Asian Development Bank-Global Environment Facility (ADB-GEF) and has since supported various mangrove and watershed rehabilitation projects, including institutional strengthening local governments, among others, in managing coastal resources.