Bacoor fishers slam Mayor Lani Revilla for preventing fire-victims to return home
Manila, Philippines – The municipal chapter of the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) in Bacoor, Cavite denounces City Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla for preventing the fire-affected residents and fishers from returning to their community that was ravaged by a blaze last week.
In June 20, barangays Maliksi I and Maliksi 3 in Bacoor, both fishing communities along the river side, were hit by a fire – 300 houses were heavily destroyed, displacing 500 households.
According to Alyansa ng mga Magdaragat sa Bacoor Cavite Inc. (ALYANSA), PAMALAKAYA’s municipal chapter, there is a standing order from the local government through Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla to restrict residents from returning to their communities and continue their livelihood. Some of the victims are fisherfolk who rely on Manila Bay as a source of living.
Myrna Candinato, President of ALYANSA, said Mayor Mercado-Revilla offered only P20, 000 to each of the family but without relocation. Candinato pointed out that there is an approved reclamation project in the city to convert its coastal community from productive fishing waters to commercial and mixed-use district. PAMALAKAYA claims the reclamation project will effectively displace almost 7, 000 fishing families and urban poor settlers.
“First of all, we don’t buy the idea that the community was accidentally hit by a blaze. We all know that deliberately burning down communities has been the most inexpensive yet effective tactic of the government to demolish a community that is a target for conversion and development aggression,” Candinato said in a statement.
Balikatan exercise impedes fishing activity in Zambales – fisherfolk group
Manila, Philippines – The activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) said an undeclared fishing ban in Zambales due to Balikatan exercise is in effect.
Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) is an annual military exercise between the Filipino and American troops as agreed on Philippine-United States military agreements such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). This year’s Balikatan which is being held in San Antonio, Zambales from May 8-18, consists of almost 5,000 Filipino troops and 3,000 American soldiers, while there are also troops from Australia, Japan, and South Korea as observers.
The fisherfolk group said Balikatan exercises, especially those in coastal areas, are always incorporated with fishing ban to provide blanket security to the American forces. The coastal-based group said the ongoing Balikatan exercise likely affects not less than 20,000 fisherfolk from San Antonio and other neighboring coastal towns in Zambales.
“We condemn this new batch of military drill that sacrifices the socio-economic rights of Filipino fishers only to please the American masters of the Philippine government. No fisherfolk will dare to sail in the militarized waters because Filipino and American soldiers are obviously mobilizing thousands of their troops to impose an intimidating presence among the fishing communities in the province,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement, assailing President Rodrigo Duterte’s subservience to the United States by allowing the American troops to exploit our soil as a mere launching pad for war on aggression.
Fisherfolk calls Cimatu’s order on protected areas “anti-environment”
Manila, Philippines – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has earned the ire of the activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) over the resumption of the special use agreement for protected areas (SAPA), saying this opens the floodgates for environmental destruction to the country’s pristine protected areas.
SAPA allows protected areas such as strict nature reserve, natural park, natural monument, wildlife sanctuary, protected landscapes and seascapes to be used for agroforestry, ecotourism, communication and power facilities, irrigation canals, aquaculture, and for weather and other scientific monitoring facilities.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 2011 suspended the issuance of SAPA.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap said the lifting of the suspension of SAPA lays open our preserved areas such as forest and marine zones to corporate activities that pose environmental disaster.
“With the resumption of issuance of SAPA, protected areas will be more vulnerable to various forms of corporate plunder embedded with environmental destruction. It will further the conversion of preserved marine areas into mere ecotourism zones and private aquaculture farms,”
Fisherfolk deplores Chinese installation of missile systems in Spratlys
Manila, Philippines – The activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) strongly condemns the deployment of missile systems of China on the three artificial islands in Kalayaan Group of Islands (internationally Spratly Islands).
Reports claimed that China has installed cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross), Zamora Reef (Subi), and Panganiban Reef (Mischief) – three of the seven reefs seized and transformed by China into artificial islands despite the international arbitration decision invalidating their claim.
“We condemn China’s installation of military armaments in our marine territory in the strongest possible terms. China has already reached the peak of violating our sovereign and territorial rights. And this is despite the existence of an international law which guarantees that the West Philippine Sea are indisputably part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA assailed the Duterte government’s constant silence on the issue, blaming President Rodrigo Duterte on why the contested waters are now armed and militarized.
“We hold Duterte accountable over this Chinese takeover of our marine territory and resources. His consistent defeatist approach on this long-running sea row has now led to complete transformation of our resource-rich territory into a fortified Chinese military zone,” added Hicap, calling all Filipinos and patriots to unite and defend the territory against Chinese invasion and other forms of foreign intervention.
“We call on the Filipino patriots to unite and actively assert our exclusive rights in the West Philippine Sea. We have no illusions that our President will step up to his role as chief executive and uphold our sovereign rights and territorial integrity,” ended Hicap. ###
Immediate rehabilitation for displaced workers in Boracay urged
Manila, Philippines – In time of the Labor Day, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) urged the Duterte government to expedite the assistance for more than 30,000 workers displaced by the 6-month closure of Boracay that started in April 26.
Boracay Island, which Duterte tagged as a “cesspool”, has 430 registered hotels and accommodations employing an estimated 19,000 registered employees; while around 17, 000 workers are from the informal sector including masseurs, tattoo artists, and vendors by the beach.
“While Duterte is promulgating the rehabilitation of Boracay, there is also an urgent need to rehabilitate thousands of displaced workers who stand affected by the government’s unprecedented total closure. Workers need government assistance in a form of economic subsidy and relief because a 6-month closure is equivalent to 6 months of hunger and joblessness,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Although the fisherfolk group is calling for economic support for the affected workers, Hicap clarified they are still opposed to the total closure and the planned casino in the island. He said his group together with other concerned sectors will continue to investigate the underlying motive behind the total closure and will publicly expose President Duterte’s sinister agenda to transform the leisure island into foreign gambling island at the expense of the country’s patrimonial rights.
Fisherfolk, environmentalists trooped DENR to protest Boracay closure, construction of casino
Manila, Philippines – Two days before the 6-month closure of Boracay, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) and environmental activist KALIKASAN People’s Network for the Environment (PNE) staged a joint picket at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to oppose the total closure and the impending construction of a 23-hectare casino in the country’s top tourist island.
President Rodrigo Duterte slammed Boracay as a “cesspool” and ordered its temporary closure to pave way for rehabilitation. But the order of rehabilitation comes into conflict with the reports that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) had approved the construction of a $500-million integrated casino-resort proposed by Macau-based casino giant Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. together with its local partner Leisure and Resorts World Corp. (LRWC).
“It is clear that the rehabilitation effort of Duterte is only a vehicle for clearing small businesses and opening Boracay to big-time developers that will intensify the exploitation of the island. We will oppose this grand sellout and corporate takeover of our natural resources at all cost,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Aside from the Macau-type casino-resort, a certain DoubleDragon Properties Corp. has expressed its interest to build the country’s largest hotel by room count dubbed as the Hotel101 Resorts in Boracay.