Eduardo Gongona

BFAR’s submissive statement in Benham Rise hit

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Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Monday lashed out at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) over its clumsy statement regarding China’s research plan in the Philippine Rise (formerly known as Benham Rise).

This wasn’t what we want to hear from the Bureau of Fisheries who is supposed to be in the frontline of defending Philippine Rise’s marine resources. After some time of keeping mum in the midst of the raging controversy regarding the Philippine Rise, the BFAR just finally came out but with a cowardly submissive position,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.

According to BFAR Director Eduardo Gongona during a round-table discussion last week, the issue is “not confrontational” and that it is okay for us to share resources with China to supply its citizens with our marine products. But the group said the agreement between the Philippine government and Beijing has only reached a joint research, not a sharing of resources.

BFAR has already offered the sharing of resources when the Philippine government and China have only achieved a joint research agreement in the first place.The country has yet to fully tap the resources in Philippine Rise, so why would we let other countries to lead the exploration and exploitation,” added Hicap.

Philippine Rise is a 13-million-hectare resource rich underwater plateau located opposite to the disputed South China Sea, it has been declared by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in April 2012 as part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Through the Executive Order No. 25 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in May last year, the undersea feature has been renamed from Benham Rise to Philippine Rise.

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“Speak up on Benham Rise issue!” – DENR, BFAR told

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“Speak up on Benham Rise issue!” – DENR, BFAR told

PHILIPPINES-IRAQ-DEFENCE
Retired armed forces chief, Roy Cimatu (L), head of the Philippines’ Iraqi crisis management team, confers with National Security Adviser Roilo Golez during a briefing at the National Security Council in suburban Quezon, north of Manila, 11 March 2003. Cimatu has instructed the Philippine embassy staff in Baghdad to relocated to Amman in Jordan amid signs of an imminent US-led war on Iraq. AFP PHOTO/JAY DIRECTO / AFP PHOTO / JAY DIRECTO

Manila, Philippines – “In the midst of the raging controversy regarding the Philippine Rise, the deafening silence of two government lead agencies, namely, the BFAR and the DENR is utterly disappointing,” according to the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas), urging the two agencies to speak up and make a stand against the government’s sell-out of our marine territory.

The group said Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are supposed to be at the forefront of conducting research in the fishing resources and management of the marine biodiversity of the rise.

Philippine Rise is a 13-million-hectare resource rich underwater plateau located opposite to the disputed South China Sea, it has been declared by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in April 2012 as part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Through the Executive Order No. 25 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in May last year, the undersea feature has been renamed from Benham Rise to Philippine Rise.

Aside from China, the Duterte administration has approved research applications from several countries such as Japan, United States, and South Korea; which was opposed by the fishers group, saying it is a gross violation of our patrimony and tantamount to surrender of sovereign rights.

The fisherfolk group noted that BFAR and DENR have already conducted exploratory trips and research on the plateau before.

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Caraga fishers trooped BFAR central office to protest Fisheries Code, marine sanctuary in the region

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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.

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Fisherfolk demands scrap of BFAR’s Bantay Laot Progam

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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,”

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Save Manila Bay and its fisherfolk – BFAR told

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Manila, Philippines – Challenging the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to fulfill its mandate in protecting the marine environment and welfare of fisherfolk, the national fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) asks its Director Eduardo Gongona to express opposition against destructive and widespread reclamation activities in Manila Bay, which according to the group is one of the primary factors on why the gulf gradually deteriorates.

The approach by the group came after Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada approved another reclamation project in Manila Bay, the Horizon project touted as Manila’s biggest land reclamation project covering 417 hectares of water. The project was proposed by the real estate J-Bros Construction firm and costs P100 billion.

Manila Mayor Estrada is on a killing spree in approving development projects that would actually destroy Manila Bay and we have no last resort but to tap BFAR whose mandate is to preserve our marine environment and the Filipino fisherfolk. BFAR must denounce and reject the reclamation galore of the Manila Mayor for it will worsen the condition of the already dying Manila Bay,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.

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