Fisherfolk staged State of the Fishers’ Address (SOFA) to assess President Duterte
Manila, Philippines – In the form of street press conference, fisherfolk under the group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Friday staged its first State of the Fishers’ Address (SOFA) at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to deliver their one-year assessment on the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, as well as to air their concerns regarding the fishing sector that the administration still needs to adhere.
Fisherfolk from Laguna de Bay, Manila Bay and Southern Tagalog region gathered to bring their respective yet common issues besetting their fishing communities. Some of the key points of the assessment were the issue of sovereignty, Laguna Lake rehabilitation, and reclamation of fishing waters.
The fisherfolk group gave a satisfactory rating on President Duterte regarding the Laguna Lake rehabilitation due to his unprecedented order to demolish vast tracts of fish pens in the 90-thousand hectare brackish lake. But the group also criticized the government’s “ningas kugon” approach on the order especially after the Secretary of DENR has been replaced by former military Chief Roy Cimatu where demolition of fish pens has been set aside.
The group urged the present administration of DENR to still pursue the clearing out of fish pens in Laguna de Bay to give time for its ecological system to restore and let the small fisherfolk savor its aquatic resources.
Fisheries Code legalizes rise of aquaculture – fisherfolk group
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Wednesday blamed the Fisheries Code of 1998 for the proliferation of privately-owned vast aquacultures in the Philippine waters.
Corporate takeover of the country’s fishing waters is done through the Fisheries Code’s Foreshore and Fishpond Lease Agreement (FLA) which allows an individual to lease and occupy up to 50 hectares of fishing waters, while commercial fishing firms up to 250 hectares for 25 years and renewable for another 25 years.
Citing Laguna de Bay as an example, the fisherfolk group said the 90-thousand hectares brackish lake has been occupied by vast-tracts of fish pens for years depriving small fisherfolk of their common fishing resources.
“Nothing has to blame but this 19-year old fisheries law for the proliferation of wide aquacultures in our fishing waters. The growing number of aquacultures in the Philippine waters causes overcrowding, exploitation and pollution of our rich fishing grounds. The granting of foreshore and fishpond lease contracts to big aquaculture firms must stop,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Dismiss restoration of Laguna lake mega-dike, DPWH told
Manila, Philippines – The acivist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Monday told the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to reject the revival of the mega dike project in Laguna de Bay, known as the Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike Project (LLEDP). The LLEDP was one of the biggest projects of then-President Noynoy Aquino under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP), amounting P122.8 billion.
The LLEDP has two proposed components – a 47-kilometer expressway dike from Muntinlupa, Taguig to Los Banos, Laguna; and the 700-hectare reclamation intended for commercial, residential and mixed use. But the project was terminated early last year due to failed bidding accompanied by strong resistance from the Laguna lake fishers, settlers and other sectors concerned in the brackish lake.
Fisherfolk, residents, environmentalists and other concerned sectors oppose the project because this will pose grave threat to the fragile marine environment and species of the 90-thousand hectare lake. Moreover, around 4.9 million fisherfolk and urban poor families will be wiped out of their livelihood and coastal community.
The DPWH, one of the implementing agencies of the LLEDP has earlier said that it would still push through the construction of the mega dike for it is crucial for the transformation of the Laguna de Bay into eco-tourism zone.
Fish pen moratorium a stepping stone towards Laguna de Bay rehabilitation
Manila, Philippines – Lauding the order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to dismantle fish pens in Laguna de Bay starting this year, the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) said the next step for the complete rehabilitation and preservation of the 90-thousand hectare brackish lake is to open the Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NHCS) which is located in Taguig City.
The NHCS has a channel that prevents the flow of saltwater from Pasig River and Manila Bay to the lake to desalinate its brackish water to keep it purified for commercial and industrial purposes. However, the NHCS harms the residents of Laguna de Bay and the lake itself because naturally, saltwater is essential to the lake to keep its ecological balance that gives nutrients to the fish and other lake-species. In effect, the existence of the Napindan channel put the country’s largest lake at its dying stage.
“The Napindan promulgates flooding mitigation in the communities around the lake and in Metro Manila, but in reality, it aggravates the flooding in Laguna de Bay communities because it prevents the water from flowing out of the lake,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.