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WTO fish-subsidy written in blank space – Filipino fisherfolk
Manila, Philippines – Small-scale fisherfolk belonging to the group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) downplays the World Trade Organization (WTO) proposal to cut fisheries subsidies on its member states, saying small and subsistent fisherfolk across the globe have not even felt the subsidies since the free-trade agreement has commenced. The proposal mainly came from the European Union (EU) which seeks to achieve the 2020 targets set out in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
In a statement, the group, which also a member of the across-the-world fishers network World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP), said they didn’t even notice that there is an existing subsidy because it never reaches through them.
“The fishing sector across the globe especially those in the third world countries remain poorest of the poor, this is mainly because of the anti-fishing laws and programs from their respective states, plus the lack of subsidies and government support that will uplift their impoverished lives,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Hicap said that in the Philippines, the government allots P100 million annually for the modernization of fishing industry under the Fisheries Code of 1998, but said it is actually meant for large-scale commercial fishing corporations instead to the small fisherfolk. That is the reason why fishing sector in the country still remains backward. Citing the data of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), only 32% of fisherfolk in a municipal level owns mechanized boats with only 3-16 horsepower, while 68% still uses backward and primitive fishing gears like paddled boats and fishing rods, some don’t even own any fishing gear at all.
PAMALAKAYA said fisheries subsidy per se has nothing to do with overcapacity and overfishing of our marine resources, the WTO just uses the subsidy wrong. The group instead proposes that the subsidy be converted to the small-scale and subsistent fisherfolk in order to modernize their backward fishing gear and be able to keep pace with the large-scale commercial fishing fleets that exploit the fishing waters allotted for municipal fisherfolk.
The group also lashes out at the European Union (EU) for its misconception on the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) which leads countries like ours to set stricter fishing rules and regulations which make the small fishers the biggest losers. The requirement of free-trade agreements like the WTO to export tons after tons of fish products to foreign markets fuel these kinds of illegal and unregulated activities in the seas because commercial fishers seem to be on a race to cater the needs of the foreign markets like the European Union.
The fisherfolk group demands genuine and sufficient state-subsidies and support to advance their productivity and to end the long-standing export-oriented local production in order to sustain the country’s food security.
The WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference will be held in Buenos Aires on December 2017. ###
Fisherfolk, environmentalists unite against coastal conversion & reclamation
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Wednesday spearheaded the launching of the broad alliance Koalisyon Kontra-Kumbersyon at Reklamasyon (KKKR) at the Redemptorist Church Baclaran. The alliance includes environmental groups Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC), church organizations, and students from St. Scholastica and University of the Philippines Manila.
In a unity statement, the anti-reclamation alliance vows to oppose all types of reclamation and conversion of fishing waters and coastal communities that pose adverse effects both to socio-economic rights of the fisherfolk and marine environment.
PAMALAKAYA during the forum presented the national plan of Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) to reclaim more than 40,000 hectares of fishing waters throughout the country. Approximately 2/3 of the project will be found in Manila Bay including the 148-hectare Solar City Project and the newly approved project of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada dubbed as ‘city within a city’ covering 407.42 hectares of the gulf.
“If completed, the grandiose plan of PRA will eject thousands of fisherfolk families and coastal settlers from their livelihood and coastal community. It will pose grave threat to the marine environment and its resources that can also have long-term effect on the country’s fish supply and food security,” Koalisyon Kontra-Kumbersyon at Reklamasyon (KKKR) said in a unity statement.
Fisherfolk warns Duterte on Silk Road-deals
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Tuesday cautioned President Rodrigo Duterte on the economic and trade deals he would enter with China that could compromise our sovereign and territorial rights.
President Rodrigo Duterte is currently in Beijing for a two-day summit on China’s foreign policy program or the Silk Road dubbed as One Belt, One Road Initiative.
PAMALAKAYA said it is hard to trust that China would benevolently grant billions of dollar aid to the Philippines when we have unresolved issue with the former especially in the disputed West Philippine Sea. Beijing has been posing its irrational claim over our exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf that had resulted to the deprivation of Filipino fishers to enter their traditional fishing ground. Although China has allowed Filipino fisherfolk to fish in Scarborough Shoal since last year, they have yet to completely surrender their claim over the waters; they even continue to build permanent structures in the area.
“Given the unresolved sea row and China’s forceful claim over our water, it is improbable that they will charitably provide assistance to us. We fear that the assistance like infrastructure projects that China has to offer will require our complete surrender of our territory in the West Philippine Sea,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The fisherfolk group said history shows that flooding our country with foreign investments does not help our economy to advance; instead, these unfair economic and trade deals retain embedded with foreign investments retain our weak economy backward because we merely rely to foreign aid without developing our own basic industries.
“We urge President Duterte not to get dazzled by China’s billions of aid, instead, he must make good on his promise in pursuing independent foreign policy for genuine development. He must also actively assert our rightful claim in the West Philippine Sea to save our marine resources from further destruction due to China’s rampant reclamation activities,” ended Hicap. ###
Fisherfolk says no to RCEP; new face of foreign plunder
Manila, Philippines – Joining hundreds of activist organizations in Mendiola, Manila to oppose the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Thursday slammed the China-backed new free-trade agreement introduced in our country.
The Philippines is hosting the 16 –member RCEP for its 18th Trade Negotiating Committee Meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Manila.
Unlike past free-trade agreements like the World Trade Organization (WTO), Asia Pacific Economic Partnership (APEC) among others that are led by United States and other Western Countries, RCEP is backed by China who is emerging as a global superpower.
The fisherfolk group said RCEP is no different from Western-led free-trade agreements, it will only further the exploitation of third-world nations to powerful countries by opening up the economies to investments and reduce tariffs and other barriers to imports on all products including raw materials, manufactured goods and services.
“It is tried and tested that unfair and one-sided economic and free-trade deals have prevented backward countries to develop its economy and industry. The main objective of free-trade deals is for the powerful nations to control the weaker economies and expand its geopolitical interests,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA said fisherfolk sector bears the brunt past and existing free-trade deals. While the fishing sector remains poorest of the poor in the country and suffers from chronic hunger and food insecurity, tons after tons of marine products are being served in a silver platter to foreign markets as dictated by these free-trade deals.
“We oppose the RCEP and other foreign free-trade agreements because it will only worsen the poverty among backward countries like the Philippines. China, U.S. and other powerful nations use these free-trade agreements to expand and maintain their hegemony across the globe at the cost the sovereign rights of the people,” ended Hicap. ###
Ph negotiators told to review position on China-led RCEP
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Monday urged the Filipino negotiators in the 18th meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to review the guidelines and context of the inter-regional free trade and economic pact before ratifying into agreements.
The 18th RCEP meeting, which is being hosted by the Philippines started on May 2 and will end on May 12. The country’s main negotiator on the meeting is the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
RCEP is China-led mega-regional free trade agreement that covers half of the world’s population, 38% of the world economy and nearly 30% of the world’s trade volume. China aims to reach the agreement by the end of 2017 or early 2018. It is Beijing’s counter free trade agreement to U.S.-led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement which U.S. President Donald Trump has recently pulled out.
For its part, the fisherfolk group expresses doubt on why the RCEP is being negotiated in secret like the TPP and other past free trade agreements. The group said it is the prerogative of the public to be involved in a pre-consultation before entering into any agreement especially if it involves the country’s economic affairs. Past free trade agreements that were also secretly negotiated surprised the people that their sovereign and economic rights were already compromised and sold to powerful nations that lead the trade pact.