Don’t go soft on China, assert right in West Ph Sea – Fisherfolk to Duterte
Manila, Philippines – As China is pouring billions of dollars of loan grants for Philippine infrastructure projects, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) expresses fear that President Rodrigo Duterte might be blinded by the investments and fail to assert our rightful claim over the disputed West Philippine Sea.
China claims almost 90% of the South China Sea or equivalent to 80% of our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS) through the 9-dash line assumption. Even with the decision of the international tribunal favoring the Philippines’ claim over the sea, China refuses to comply with the verdict. It was almost 4 years that the Filipino fisherfolk were deprived by Chinese personnel to fish in Scarborough Shoal until President Duterte’s first state visit to Beijing on October last year that led to our cordial relation with China. But even so, China has yet to completely surrender its irrational claim over the disputed waters as it continues to build artificial structures intended for military facilities.
Although PAMALAKAYA welcomes President Duterte’s effort to demand China to respect the rights of Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal, the fisherfolk group scores the major turn back of President Duterte on its promise to actively assert our legal and political rights to end China’s illegal occupation in our territory. As President Duterte’s economic policy shifts towards China, the group fears it equates to complete disregard of our unresolved maritime dispute with Beijing.
West Philippine Sea is a strategic fishing hub for Filipino fishers. It produces an average of 5,000 metric tons of fish products per year. Fisherfolk from Zambales, Bataan, Pangasinan, and Batangas rely on its rich marine resources.
Fisherfolk welcomes seed distribution in Laguna de Bay, calls to pursue fishpen demolition
Manila, Philippines – The national fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Wednesday acknowledged the government’s dispersal of 5 million fingerlings in Laguna de Bay through the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). The restocking of native fish species in the 90-thousand hectare brackish lake is part of the government’s campaign to rehabilitate inland waters such as lakes and rivers.
In a statement, the fisherfolk group said the seeding in Laguna de Bay is a welcome development for this will temporarily support the livelihood of small fisherfolk and fishworkers who were affected by the government’s campaign to demolish vast tracts of fish pens in the lake.
PAMALAKAYA together with environment alliance Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) raised the demand to distribute fingerlings to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during the term of its former Secretary Gina Lopez. This is to solve the prevailing problem in the lake of fish catch depletion and to assure the fishworkers who lost livelihood due to fishpen demolition that once they return to open fishing, there will be enough fish to catch.
“We are grateful that the government grants the demand of the fisherfolk for livelihood support. We still call for more fingerling-dispersal drive to convince the fisherfolk to return to traditional mode of fishing instead of being employed in private aquacultures in exchange for paltry allowance,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
US-operated AFP at the wheel on war on terror – fisherfolk group
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Friday lashed out at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for letting the United States (U.S.) intervene on the ongoing war against the local terrorist group Maute in Marawi City.
The fisherfolk group said President Rodrigo Duterte loses its command over his own military. It seems that only those military generals in his Cabinet have control on the ongoing conflict particularly Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon and AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año who deliberately allow American military forces to intervene in the Marawi siege. President Duterte admitted that he was unaware of the presence of American troops in Marawi to provide Filipino troopers with “technical support”.
PAMALAKAYA said foreign meddling in our internal conflict is a clear violation of our sovereignty and constitution. Whether it is for technical or direct support through operations, the U.S. army has no right to interfere in our civil war. The group warned President Duterte on how the U.S. leaves Middle East countries that have ongoing armed conflict devastated after its “military aid and assistance”.
Fisherfolk demands end to rice importation scheme
Manila, Philippines – Joining the call of the rice consumers watchdog Bantay Bigas, the national fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Wednesday aired their sentiment to end the era of rice importation and promote the welfare of local rice producers in the country.
On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Food conducted a public hearing on the National Food Authority’s (NFA) importation policy and the scheduled expiration of the Quantitative Importation Restriction. The quantitative restriction (QR) on rice will expire on June 30. Under the QR, rice imports within the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) of 805, 200 Metric Tons (MT) were charged with an in-quota tariff of 35%, while all imports in excess of the MAV were assessed with a higher 50% tariff.
“How ironic that despite being agricultural country, we still import tons after tons of rice from the foreign traders at the cost of losing the livelihood of our local rice producers who are forced to sell their products to local private traders at the very low price because the NFA prioritized to buy the imported ones,”
“The systematic rice importation affects not only the farmers but also the consumers who bear the brunt of higher price of imported rice in the domestic market,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The fisherfolk group slams the Duterte administration’s lack of eagerness to extend the QR once it expires on June 30. The group said the absence of QR will further the anarchic importation of rice in the country.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) this year aims to import 250,000 MT of rice that will serve as the country’s buffer stock in time of “lean months” or the period where farmers await for their harvest.
But according to Bantay Bigas, meeting the country’s buffer stock during lean months has been a worn-out explanation used by the government to justify rice importation. The rice watchdog said top palay producing provinces like Nueva Ecija, Mindoro, and Isabela are able to supplement supply shortage in other provinces.
“Buffer stock should primarily come from our country and not from foreign market which we are not even sure if they are safe at all. The government should provide subsidies to our local farmers in order for them to be productive enough to produce rice for our domestic consumption and ensure rice self-sufficiency,”
“The Filipino people deserve sufficient, safe and affordable rice. It is the government’s duty to strengthen the local rice production through adequate state-subsidy to the farmers and assuring them that they have enough land to till,” Hicap added.
PAMALAKAYA also calls to scrap the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture which legalizes the country’s unwarranted import-dependent rice production. ###
Fisherfolk unsatisfied over DENR Chief Cimatu’s say on Nickelodeon project
Manila, Philippines – The fisherfolk under the group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) is not pleased with the statement of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on the proposed Nickelodeon underwater-theme Park in Palawan.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Friday said it will first conduct a “thorough inquiry regarding the proposed project” as they await the formal request of the said project.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA said they expect Secretary Cimatu to oppose the project without reservation because it is no doubt that the project will pose environmental disaster to the country’s last ecological frontier.
Experts and environmentalists have already proven the adverse impact of this project, whether underwater or land-based, will bring to the marine environment for it will cause ecological disturbance to its marine biodiversity and ecosystem.
“Although we welcome Secretary Cimatu’s immediate response on the project, we are not that satisfied. We find his statement playing safe and dilly dallying on the looming threat of development destruction to our marine environment. What we want is for the new DENR administration to outrightly defy the project and extend his support to the fisherfolk who will be economically affected if the project will proceed,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA recognizes former Environment Chief Gina Lopez’ stiff position against the proposed project where she even declared Palawan province as off-limits to destructive projects.
“We remind Secretary Cimatu of Gina Lopez’ good deeds when she was still the top environment official. Why can’t Cimatu be like his predecessor who has indisputable concern for the environment and the people,” added Hicap.
The fisherfolk group likewise urges the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PSCD) to deplore the project. PSCD is a government body that focuses on environment conservation and inclusive development in the province of Palawan.
“Our fishing hub is not krusty krab; it is a home to more than 300 coral species and more than 1,500 fish species in the country that benefits not only the fisherfolk but every single population who relies on fish as primary protein source. It should remain as it is. Once we convert the area from its traditional use, there is no way that we can bring back its original and bountiful ecosystem,” Hicap said.
The 400-hectare controversial underwater theme park in Coron, Palawan which drew flak from environmentalists, netizens, and fisherfolk organizations is still being pushed by its proponents – the Coral World Park Undersea Resorts and the Viacom International Media Networks, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT). ###
Fisherfolk asks Manila Mayor Estrada to revoke approved reclamation projects in Manila Bay
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Thursday warned Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada on his incessant approval of reclamation projects in Manila Bay that would endanger its marine life and the fisherfolk and urban settlers who depend on the gulf as primary source of livelihood.
Manila Mayor Estrada has approved the Horizon Manila project which covers 417 hectares of Manila Bay. The project which is intended for commercial and mixed use costs P100-billion and touted as Manila’s biggest land reclamation project. Its proponent is the real estate firm J-Bros Construction Corp.
The project is the fourth reclamation project to be given blessing by the Manila Mayor over the last six months. The other three are the 407.42-hectare New Manila Bay International community – dubbed as “city within a city”, the 148-hectare Manila Solar City project, and the 50-hectare expansion of Manila Harbour Centre in Tondo.
“We call on Manila Mayor Estrada to rescind all its agreements with the proponents of the reclamation projects in Manila Bay in order to save the city and the body of water from degradation and disaster,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA warns Mayor Estrada that the approved projects will aggravate the flash floods and other devastated effects of natural disasters in Metro Manila. The fisherfolk group said rampant reclamation activities over the years have made the Manila Bay vulnerable to storm surges because the movement and natural flow of its waters have changed.
“Despite deterioration, Manila Bay remains a productive fishing hub and settlement for fisherfolk and urban poor in Metro Manila, some provinces of Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog. It must be spared from any destructive project that will convert its traditional fishing zone into gambling and entertainment hub,” ended Hicap.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) of the project was signed on June 1 by Mayor Estrada together with Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) board chairman Alberto Agra and general manager Janito Rubiato and J-Bros President Jesusito Legaspi Jr. ###