Charter Change to pave the way for ‘ocean grab’ – fisherfolk group
“The decision of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments to amend the 1987 Constitution will entice fishing investors abroad to embark on monopoly fishing expeditions inside the country’s territorial waters to fish for high value sea-based products such as tuna and other high priced aquamarine products.” – Pamalakaya
By GERRY ALBERT CORPUZ
MANILA- The fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) lambasted the railroading of House Resolution No.1, authored by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, which paves the way for the removal of economic provisions that favors Filipino nationals in the 1987 Constitution. These provisions prohibit 100 percent foreign-owned corporations from engaging in vital industries in the country and from owning land. The group said this will set the stage for “ocean grabbing” of Philippine waters by foreign industrial fishing fleets.
Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France raised the specter of more advanced fishing vessels coming into Philippine waters inside the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) including those fishing territories currently claimed by the Manila government at the West Philippine Sea.
“The entire EEZ of the Philippines will be opened with open arms to raiders of domestic fisheries courtesy of Washington-authored Chacha [charter change] and America’s league of extraordinary puppets in Malacañang and Philippine Congress,” the Pamalakaya leader said in a text message to Bulatlat.com.
France said the decision of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments to amend the 1987 Constitution will entice fishing investors abroad to embark on “monopoly fishing expeditions” inside the country’s territorial waters to fish for high value sea-based products such as tuna and other high priced aquamarine products.
“Chacha is a super prescription for grand plunder and ocean grab by foreign fishing monopolies. This will have a devastating impact on 1.3 million small fisherfolk and 98 million fish consuming Filipinos. This fact should have convinced legislators from both houses of Congress to drop this insane proposal like a hot potato,” he added.
France said many foreign fishing ventures in Japan, the United States and European Union are operating in Philippine ocean waters through joint venture agreements with their domestic partners.
He said the current set up is 60-40 local-foreign ownership as provided by the 1987 Constitution.
The Pamalakaya leader noted that the long-running practice is that foreign investments and equities in joint venture agreements constitute second hand commercial fishing vessels, which represent their share in the joint venture. “For instance, Japan provides domestic commercial fishing corporations with second hand vessels in exchange for fishery products that should be chiefly transported to Japan for the needs of Tokyo’s large domestic market for tuna and other high value fishery crops. Most of the produce under joint venture agreements are shipped out of the country, with 80 percent going to clients abroad and only 20 percent are maintained for domestic consumption of Filipinos,” said France.
Pamalakaya said with charter change, the national government will soon allow foreign investors to fish in Philippine waters under their own flag carriers, and this appetite for fish and super profits, the group said, will lead to the grand ocean grabbing of local fishery resources by foreign companies.
The progressive group said that at present there are 327 large-scale commercial fishing vessels operating in the country. These are controlled and managed by joint venture corporations.
Pamalakaya said most of these vessels operate in Palawan Sea and South China Sea, Sulu Sea, Masbate Sea, Ragay Gulf, Batangas Bay, Central Visayas Sea, Davao Gulf and the Pacific Ocean areas of Quezon, Aurora, Batanes, Cagayan and open seas fronting South China Sea that include La Union, Pangasinan and Zambales.
The group said the sea fronting Casiguran in Aurora province is used to encroachment of foreign industrial fleets hunting for tuna from January to July every year. Pamalakaya said fishing fleets from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan “illegally” fish in this “tuna highway.”
Pamalakaya said the European Union is eager to enter the country’s fishing waters via the proposed EU-RP bilateral trade agreement, where European fishing fleets will be allowed to fish in Philippine fishing waters. The group said, the same applies to US led Transnational Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that requires the country to open up its ocean waters for US exploitation of resources such as fish, oil and gas.
Pamalakaya noted that oil and gas explorations in the country, much like the Malampaya gas project, would likewise be opened to foreign investors. Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron Texaco merely pays the government royalties from a percentage of its earnings from the Malampaya Deepwater Gas-to-Power project.
Pamalakaya said a total of 10 million hectares of ocean waters are currently primed for oil and gas explorations under joint venture agreements, and with Chacha, the Philippine government will soon open 100 percent foreign equity for oil and gas exploration in West Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea and the Visayan Sea.