Communities along Sarangani Bay to raise trust fund

Rizalito Lopez, chief executive officer of the non-government group Center for Advancement and Strengthening of Community Property Rights, Inc. (CASCO), said residents and various government and non-government groups safeguarding Sarangani Bay are set to launch a massive fund drive in a bid to establish the Sarangani Bay Trust Fund.

"The trust fund will primarily serve as a support mechanism to sustain activities and programs that cater to the protection and conservation of the bay's resources and its environs," Lopez said in a press conference here this morning.

Lopez said local stakeholders are initially eyeing to utilize the trust fund for the provision of insurance packages for the bay's deputy fish wardens and address the logistical concerns in the litigation of cases involving violators of local fishery laws.

He said they would also use the funds to enhance the public information drive for the bay's conservation and protection and for the opening of livelihood opportunities for small fishermen settled along the coastal areas.

Lopez said they will launch the Sarangani Bay Trust Fund and the year-long fund-raising campaign during the opening day of the 2nd Sarangani Bay Festival slated on May 31 to June 2.

He said the activity will highlight the culmination of the Lumba Bugsay, a race featuring crude small bancas of local fishermen. It would kickoff in the coastal village of Kapatan in Maasim town and end at Reycon Beach Resort in barangay Tango, Glan.

Lopez, who heads Lumba Bugsay's organizing committee, said the race was adopted by festival organizers as a tribute to Sarangani Bay's small fishermen.

Lopez said they will exert all efforts to raise their P2.3-million target within one year so they could avail of the commitment of several national and foreign organizations to match their funds once they reach the target.

He said independent organization Peace and Equity Foundation, a non-profit foundation formed in 2001 by the Caucus of Development NGOs to support anti-poverty initiatives of the civil societies, initially signified to put in a support fund matching their target.

Lopez said they are also working for contributions from an association of foundations and from Dutch development group Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid.

He added that they would work for the institutionalization of the bay's trust fund and eventually develop it into an endowment fund.