Fisherfolk welcomes President Duterte’s stance against fishpen-takeover in Laguna de
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang
Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-Pilipinas) welcomes President Duterte’s order to dismantle vast tracts of corporate and private fish pens in Laguna de Bay.
The order was made during the President’s 1st State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25.
“This is what the Laguna lake fishers have long been waiting for; a leader who will address the welfare of the small fishers over big-corporations’ greedy interests. Large portion of Laguna de Bay have been occupied by big fishing and aquaculture companies for decades now.” Roman Antazo, Pamalakaya Secretary General and also a fisherman from Laguna Lake said in a statement.
Pamalakaya said that almost 60 percent of the 94,000-hectare lake has been leased to big fish pen operators by the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) through the Fishpond Lease Agreement (FLA). This is in violation to the law that only allows 10% of the inland waters to be occupied privately. The lion’s share of the lake is being apportioned by a few private individuals and corporations like the Frabelle Fishing Corp. which according to the Laguna lake residents owns fish pens covering a total of 700 hectares.
“Although the LLDA only allows maximum of 50 hectares per fish pen operator, private fishing corporations like Frabelle managed to own more than what is designated by using different dummies and exchanging for big taxes and fat commissions for crooks in power,”
“The corporate takeover of Laguna de Bay left nothing for the small-fisherfolk who have been making livelihood out of its productive fishing water. The once communal fishing grounds for the small fishermen are now enclosed with cages resulting to overcrowding. We have experienced several forms of harassments from the armed fish pens personnel and deprivation from our livelihood when we go near the private fish pens,” Antazo said.
Pamalakaya have been demanding to the past administrations to dismantle and refrain from awarding fishpond lease contracts to big fishing corporations and individuals but it seems that past governments had turned a blind eye on our proposal.
Meanwhile, Pamalakaya call the President’s attention about his plans to transform Laguna de Bay into eco-tourism zone.
“While we welcome the President’s stand against corporate fish pens in Laguna Lake, we won’t allow transforming our traditional fishing grounds into an eco-tourism zone that will put the lives of the fisherfolk in peril. We strongly oppose any plans to convert and transform the lake into other use such as tourist zones because that will also lead to displacement or prohibition of fishers to fish near the declared tourist spots,”
“There are many ways to conserve and preserve Laguna Lake without putting the lives of the fishers and residents at stake. We are open to hold a dialogue with the President and come up with a more holistic and pro-people solutions for the rehabilitation of the dying lake,” Antazo ended. ###