“Go outside your palace, talk to us” – Caraga farmers & fishers to Duterte
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Sunday challenged President Rodrigo Duterte to face hundreds of farmers and fishers from the Caraga Region currently encamped at Mendiola, Manila since August 23 as part of their Manila Protest Camp dubbed as “Lakbayan Laban sa Kahirapan at Karahasan”.
Farmers and fishers under Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and PAMALAKAYA, consecutively, since the first day of their protest camp staged picket actions and dialogues with various government agencies concerning their sector.
Among the issues brought by the Caraga folks are landlessness and widespread land grabbing in the region, the illegal marine sanctuaries in Surigao del Norte which deprive fisherfolk of their right to fishing grounds, and the repressive fishing rules and regulations under the amended Fisheries Code of 1998 or Republic Act 10654.
“The fisherfolk and farmers are on their third week in Manila yet no concrete commitments have been made by the government agencies they confronted to address the issues they raised,”
“The Presidet is too occupied on his war against drugs that claims thousands of lives while setting aside the ails in the countryside,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
Fisherfolk asks probe into marine sanctuaries in Surigao del Norte
Manila, Philippines – Fisherfolk under the group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Thursday urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu to investigate the existing marine sanctuaries illegally operating in the province of Surigao del Norte that covers more than 600 hectares of its fishing waters.
Marine sanctuary in the municipality of General Luna covers 580 hectares in spite that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) only approved 200 hectares of sanctuary in the town. While in the municipality of San Isidro, there is an existing 33 hectares of marine sanctuary and another 30 hectares for expansion will be opened soon.
Marine Sanctuaries are designated areas declared by the BFAR where all types of fishing activities are prohibited in order to preserve marine species and give fish time to spawn. However, according to PAMALAKAYA, marine sanctuaries often lead to privatization and conversion of fishing waters into eco-tourism zones
The declared marine sanctuaries in Surigao del Norte now showcase leisure activities like boat riding, surfing, scuba diving, and sport fishing for local and foreign tourists.
“While we are being denied access from our traditional fishing zone, the local government unit opens the area to rest and recreation hub for tourists. This is the reason why we don’t buy the idea that marine sanctuaries are for the interest of small fisherfolk, because we know that the real score behind this sanctuaries is to transform the traditional use of fishing waters into money-making business both of the local government and investors,” Leopoldo Pelinta, PAMALAKAYA-Surigao del Norte Spokesperson said in a statement.
The group also contests the claim of BFAR that marine sanctuaries is for marine life protection, saying the bureau’s designated sea patrols or bantay dagat prohibit only small fishermen while inutile to destructive large-scale commercial fishing vessels. Ring net and Superlight fishing are prevalent in the municipal waters even within the declared marine sanctuaries, they are destructive especially the Superlight because it paralyzes and blinds the fish once its lamp submerge into the water. They are owned by influential politicians and individuals in the province.
Local fishermen in the province also notice the change of pattern of fish species in the region, like depletion of fish capture and loss of several fish species they used to catch before.
“How can you protect the marine environment if you convert its traditional use as a fishing ground? Eco-tourism results to ecosystem imbalance because you disturb the habitat of fish and other marine life,”
Caraga fishers trooped BFAR central office to protest Fisheries Code, marine sanctuary in the region
Caraga fishers trooped BFAR central office to protest Fisheries Code, marine sanctuary in the region
Manila, Philippines – Around 60 fisherfolk from the Caraga Region XIII under the banner of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Monday protested the amended Fisheries Code of 1998 before the central office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) as part of their month-long protest camp in Manila dubbed as “Lakbayan Laban sa Kagutuman at Karahasan”.
The fisherfolk from Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte said since the Fisheries Code has been amended last 2015 through the Republic Act 10654, various fees and heavy taxations are being charged on them by the local government unit (LGU).
Biased fishing rules and regulations are strictly enforced by the LGU only to the municipal fishermen while it pays no attention to the illegal entry of large-scale commercial fishing fleets within the 15-kilometer fishing waters designated for small-fishermen.
“The amended Fisheries Code mounts many fishing rules and policies. It includes registration and licensing of our boats and fishing gears. The boat registration itself costs us almost P2,000 which is already a burden for small-earner fishermen like us,”
“And if we fail to comply with the strict standards, we will be categorized as “illegal fishers” and will be subjected to hefty fines and harsh penalties like confiscation of fishing gears and worst, imprisonment,” Leopoldo Pelinta, PAMALAKAYA-Surigao del Norte Spokesperson said in a statement.
Fisherfolk laments marine sanctuary in Surigao del Norte
Manila, Philippines – The provincial chapter of the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) in Surigao del Norte laments the existing marine sanctuaries covering more than 600 hectares of fishing waters in the province’s two municipalities, namely, the General Luna and San Isidro.
According to PAMALAKAYA-Surigao del Norte, the existing marine sanctuary in the municipality of General Luna is 580 hectares in spite that only 200 hectares were approved by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). While in the municipality of San Isidro, the coastal area for sanctuary is 33 hectares and another 30 hectares for expansion will be opened soon.
Marine sanctuaries are designated area declared by BFAR where all types of fishing activities are prohibited in order to preserve the marine species and pave way for the spawning of fish. However, according to PAMALAKAYA, marine sanctuaries often lead to privatization and conversion of fishing grounds into eco-tourism zone. The group also said that sanctuaries do not guarantee protection of marine species because BFAR’s bantay dagat or sea patrol is inutile to prevent the entry of large-scale commercial fishing fleets in the 15-kilometer municipal fishing area that use destructive and exploitative fishing gears like the hulbot-hulbot or Danish Seine where the latter is prevalent in the province.
The group said the declared marine sanctuaries in the province are guarded by policemen and the passageway of small fisherfolk even outside the declared area is strictly restricted.
Fisherfolk slams 2018 BFAR budget for aquaculture
Manila, Philippines – Questioning why the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on its proposed 2018 budget parcels out fund for aquaculture program, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) said this questionable allocation is highly alarming and deserves a thorough scrutiny.
BFAR will get P5.9-billion budget next year, a 10% lower than the 2017 budget. P687.7-million of the said budget will be allotted for aquaculture program.
“We want an explanation from the bureau of fisheries on why would they allot such huge chunk of their one-year budget to aquaculture. Will they invest their agency to this venture that will deprive municipal fisherfolk of their communal fishing grounds and facilitate the pollution of our seas? This budget could be used to other programs like mechanization and improvement of fishing technologies and equipments of small fisherfolk instead of using it for the bureau’s income generating profit,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Fisherfolk group demands probe on the beating of Batangas fishers
Manila, Philippines – The nationwide alliance of fisherfolk Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Sunday urged the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Central Office to investigate the beating and harassment of Bantay Dagat (sea patrols) against six fishermen in Brgy. Papaya, Nasugbu, Batangas on July 17.
5 fisherfolk were badly hurt while one fisherman is still missing after they were harassed by a group of armed men identified as members of BFAR’s Bantay Dagat led by its Chief and also a Brgy. Chairman Marlon Limboc.
According to the report, while the 6 fishermen were on a fishing expedition, a group of armed men fired shots against their boats, held them and forced them to jump off the sea after being beaten by their captors.
According to PAMALAKAYA, this blatant abuse against the small fisherfolk who were only doing their livelihood is highly unacceptable and someone must be held accountable. The fisherfolk group believes that the recent maltreatment against the fishermen has something to do with the baseless strict fishing rule under the amended Fisheries Code that gives authority to Bantay Dagat to catch after their so-called “illegal fishers”.
Fisherfolk demands scrap of BFAR’s Bantay Laot Progam
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) calls for the scrapping of Bantay Laot Program, a law-enforcement program of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to curb its so-called illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The Bantay Laot Program equips municipal fisherfolk with weapons to run after another fisherfolk who will engage in illegal fishing activities in the municipal waters. Illegal fishing by category of the government includes engaging in destructive fishing method like using of dynamite, cyanide, and other fishing gears categorized by government as destructive; not able to report the amount of fish catch to BFAR personnel; and fishing within the designated marine protected areas and fish sanctuaries. These new fishing rules are under the amendment Fisheries Code or the Republic Act 10654.
Bantay Laot Program serves as prerequisite of fisherfolk to have access on BFAR’s cash and livelihood assistance. On Sunday, BFAR Region 11 gave cash incentives amounting from PHP1,000 to PHP2,000 to 578 fisherfolk in 23 barangays in Davao City to hire them as sea watchers. PAMALAKAYA estimates that more than 1,000 fisherfolk this year have been registered to Bantay Laot Program, majority of those are in Mindanao.
For PAMALAKAYA, this militaristic approach to resolve illegal fishing activities will create rift between small fisherfolk who will be obliged to run and catch after one another. The fisherfolk group said BFAR’s assistance should be no condition especially if it involves violence among small fisherfolk.
“BFAR is creating rift between small fisherfolk instead of uniting them to protect and utilize the fishing waters to promote domestic food security. Creating water militia will likely cause vigilantism and lawlessness in the sea. It is the utmost duty of the government forces in the first place to protect the livelihood of small fisherfolk both from local and foreign commercial fishing vessels that actually exploit the waters through unwarranted fishing expedition,”