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Proposed 2018 GAA loaded with demolition budget – fisherfolk group

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Proposed 2018 GAA loaded with demolition budget – fisherfolk groupUntitled.png

Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Wednesday decried the P3.8 trillion proposed national budget for 2018, a 12.4% higher than this year’s General Appropriations Act (GAA) where bulk of the budget or a whopping P1.097 trillion is meant for big-ticket infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build program of the Dutertenomics.

The group fears massive displacement and demolition of urban poor and fishing communities in pursuant to these infrastructure projects.

The 2018 proposed national budget is prone to corruption and loaded with displacement of urban poor and fisherfolk from communities and livelihood. President Duterte’s addiction to infrastructure projects prevent him to realize that the economic plan he’s focusing on is actually detrimental to the Filipino people and would less likely to contribute to economic growth. He even fails to include budget for resettlement areas for the poor families who will be affected by the projects,”

“With President Duterte’s line up of infrastructures, we will not be surprised if hundreds of reclamation projects pending throughout the Philippine waters would push through,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.

PAMALAKAYA said more than 100 coastal reclamation projects under the National Reclamation Plan (NRP) are awaiting for the palace’s approval. This covers almost 40,000 hectares of fishing waters and coastal areas, and if completed would effectively wipe out fishing and coastal communities from the Philippine map. NRP mainly includes construction of commercial establishments, eco-tourism, industrial and business hubs.

The 29% increase of budget for infrastructure is to expedite the construction of railways, airport, seaports, and bridges, where huge part of it will be sourced from local and foreign debt.

The budget increase would gratify the pet projects of both local and foreign developers and even local government. Build, Build, Build is privatization of public lands and facilities and debt-driven program that will benefit no one but the giant local and foreign oligarchs. In the end, hardworking Filipinos will shoulder the burden of this Dutertenomics’ mess through unwarranted tax increase,” added Hicap.

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Duterte’s unstable promises; one-year assessment on President Duterte

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Duterte’s unstable promises
Fisherfolk’s one-year assessment to President DuterteIMG_20161007_103319.jpg

Manila, Philippines – “Among the prominent achievement of President Rodrigo Duterte within one year in his office is the unprecedented order to demolish vast tracts of fishpens in Laguna de Bay, which for years deprived the small fisherfolk of their communal fishing ground. The campaign was spearheaded by then environment Secretary Gina Lopez. We monitor that more than 1,000 hectares of fishpens have been demolished from the time of former Secretary Lopez, until she was rejected by the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) and her position was taken over by ex-military Chief Roy Cimatu, where the campaign started by Lopez, by our knowledge is currently put on halt,” Fernando Hicap, Chairperson of fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) said in a statement.

On our sovereignty, we welcome President Duterte’s efforts to hold diplomatic negotiations with China resulting to the return of Filipino fisherfolk in Scarborough Shoal, after almost four years of being denied access to their traditional fishing zone due to intense Chinese militarization and hostility. But even so, the effort of President Duterte is not enough for China to completely surrender its irrational claim over our waters. Contrary to his promise, PresidentDuterte softens his assertion to China to stop its reclamation and leave the Philippine waters,” added Hicap.

President Duterte has been mum on the long-time clamor of the fisherfolk to junk the almost two decades Fisheries Code of 1998, which was amended in time of President Benigno Aquino III through the Republic Act 10654. The hefty fines and strict fishing rules of the amended fisheries law afflict the fishing sector into deeper poverty. With the amended Fisheries Code, small-fishers today endure the heavy taxation and registration fees under the Boat Registration (BoatR) and Fish Registration (FishR) programs where they are compelled to enlist their fishing gears and even themselves to the local government only to be considered by the fisheries bureau as legal fisherfolk,” said Hicap.

We are not surprised on why the administration pursues and actually widens the National Reclamation Program (NRP) and the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) which consists of multifold infrastructure projects. The “Dutertenomics” or the administration’s economic program focuses on major infrastructures largely funded by China. Some of the projects are land-based while some will be built on top of the water through reclamation and conversion of fishing waters. NRP consists of more than 100 reclamation projects covering 40,000 hectares of waters throughout the archipelago. These reclamation projects if completed would result to displacement of millions of fisherfolk and coastal settlers from their livelihood to pave way for private and even government projects,” Hicap lamented.

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