May 17, 2019
PAMALAKAYA slams irregularities, reported fraud in midterm polls
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) has assailed irregularities and fraud initially reported by its chapters, that eventually resulted to the dislodging of progressive candidates such as Anakpawis party-list and senatoriable Neri Colmenares in midterm elections held last Monday.
The coastal-based group was primarily condemning the intensified intervention of government security forces against Anakpawis, which is deemed illegal by the Omnibus Election Code.
“The Duterte government exhausted public funds and the state machinery against Anakpawis, to the point of threatening the electorate against voting and attacking the local leaders to undermine the campaign. This is worse than fraud, as it is an outright undermining of the supposedly civilian, free and democratic electoral practice,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
The group, whose members acted as poll watchers on the elections day, seriously condemned the mass break down of the vote counting machines, the replacement of SD cards and the outage of the transparency server. It asserted that these failures are all breaches of the credibility and integrity of the election.
“There is indeed something fishy on the unexplained irregularities last elections which are mind-boggling and deserve a thorough scrutiny from no less than an independent body composed of election lawyers, people’s organizations, and information technology experts,” Hicap, former representative of Anakpawis Party-list added.
Imported GG poses health risk to humans – fisherfolk
Manila, Philippines – “Not only that imported, frozen round scad (galunggong) is no longer fresh, but also a health risk for consumers because they are often contaminated with formalin to make them last long,” according to the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas), warning the public not to patronize and oppose the importation of 17,000 metric tons of galunggong approved by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
“Both DA and BFAR obviously don’t care about the welfare of the people; aside from we will be fed with stale fish (bilasa), our health will be put at risk. It is already a fact that majority of imported frozen marine products especially coming from China are tainted with formalin, a chemical primarily used to preserve cadavers. Just imagine if this chemical will be infused into the food that we eat!” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Scientific studies said that formalin is highly toxic and pose short-term health effects to humans including coughing, wheezing, nausea, irritation of skin, nose, and throat; while long term effect may lead to leukemia and cancer.
Fishers hit unlimited imports of rice and fish through QR lifting, zero tariff
Manila, Philippines – “Lifting the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice importation and imposing a zero tariff on imported fish will be the last nail in the coffin for Filipino food producers such as farmers and fisherfolk,” according to the activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) reacting to the plan of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and economic managers during their meeting last July 31.
Arroyo along with economic bloc in the Duterte government said the proposed policy on importation is to “address the inflation”. But for the fisherfolk group, the lifting of QR and zero tariff on rice and fish will bring economic disaster to local food producers.
“We are already importing an average of 500, 000 metric tons of fish every year. To set the tariff on imported fish down to zero will completely kill the livelihood of Filipino fisherfolk because domestic market will primarily depend on marine and aquatic products coming from the foreign market. Everything on our table from rice to entrée will be imported,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The fisherfolk group claims shortage can never be the reason on why the country should rely on import because in the first place, according to them, the country exports tons after tons of fish products every year. They said from 1994 up to the present, the Philippines’ marine export rose to 120%, or a total of 333, 465 metric tons in 2013 alone. PAMALAKAYA said the exportation influx is despite the 15% loss of fish consumption in the country yearly.
“The unlimited importation of rice and fish will render the domestic market and local prices unstable. But moreover, it will leave small farmers and fishers at the losing end because while the government focuses on imports, local production remain backward as ever due to agriculture and economic policies dictated by foreign markets,”
“Flooding our local market with imported agricultural products will never bring food sustainability but to develop our agriculture through livelihood subsidy and our country to separate from unfair global economic and trade deals that promote liberalization such as World Trade Organization,” ended Hicap. ###
Deaths, serious injuries caused by illegal demolition blamed on the land grabber
San Juan, Batangas – “No one is to blame on the death of two security guards and serious injuries of three fishermen but the land developer Federico Campos III who wantonly ordered his security to demolish our shanties even without the court order. Campos’ security guards have committed illegal trespassing and destruction of property and we have no other option but to actively defend our houses from the demolition,” said Elsie Lucero, a resident of Sitio Balacbacan, Brgy. Laiya, San Juan, Batangas and a member of the provincial fisherfolk group Haligi ng Batanguenong Anakdagat (HABAGAT).
Last Monday, 8 buses of demolition team and security guards have forced their way into the community of the fisherfolk encamped along the national hi-way of Laiya as ordered by Campos to fence the property he claims. Campos is the owner of the Laiya Development Corp. and Macaria Development Corp. who is claiming that he owns the entire Sitio Balacbacan.
The violent demolition led to the death of two security guards from the JPS Security Agency and three serious injuries of three fisherfolk residents including Hermie Garcia, 60 years old, Peter Tranzares, 50, and Kenneth Cerezo, 23.
In 2014, more than 600 fishing families were violently demolished from the coastal community which is now converted into Campos’ private eco-tourism zone. After the demolition, the displaced families re-organized themselves and decided to stay in the area by building makeshift houses along the national road as most of them have no other place to go, as well as to assert their right to livelihood and their return to the community where they were displaced.
Bacoor fishers slam Mayor Lani Revilla for preventing fire-victims to return home
Manila, Philippines – The municipal chapter of the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) in Bacoor, Cavite denounces City Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla for preventing the fire-affected residents and fishers from returning to their community that was ravaged by a blaze last week.
In June 20, barangays Maliksi I and Maliksi 3 in Bacoor, both fishing communities along the river side, were hit by a fire – 300 houses were heavily destroyed, displacing 500 households.
According to Alyansa ng mga Magdaragat sa Bacoor Cavite Inc. (ALYANSA), PAMALAKAYA’s municipal chapter, there is a standing order from the local government through Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla to restrict residents from returning to their communities and continue their livelihood. Some of the victims are fisherfolk who rely on Manila Bay as a source of living.
Myrna Candinato, President of ALYANSA, said Mayor Mercado-Revilla offered only P20, 000 to each of the family but without relocation. Candinato pointed out that there is an approved reclamation project in the city to convert its coastal community from productive fishing waters to commercial and mixed-use district. PAMALAKAYA claims the reclamation project will effectively displace almost 7, 000 fishing families and urban poor settlers.
“First of all, we don’t buy the idea that the community was accidentally hit by a blaze. We all know that deliberately burning down communities has been the most inexpensive yet effective tactic of the government to demolish a community that is a target for conversion and development aggression,” Candinato said in a statement.
Balikatan exercise impedes fishing activity in Zambales – fisherfolk group
Manila, Philippines – The activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) said an undeclared fishing ban in Zambales due to Balikatan exercise is in effect.
Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) is an annual military exercise between the Filipino and American troops as agreed on Philippine-United States military agreements such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). This year’s Balikatan which is being held in San Antonio, Zambales from May 8-18, consists of almost 5,000 Filipino troops and 3,000 American soldiers, while there are also troops from Australia, Japan, and South Korea as observers.
The fisherfolk group said Balikatan exercises, especially those in coastal areas, are always incorporated with fishing ban to provide blanket security to the American forces. The coastal-based group said the ongoing Balikatan exercise likely affects not less than 20,000 fisherfolk from San Antonio and other neighboring coastal towns in Zambales.
“We condemn this new batch of military drill that sacrifices the socio-economic rights of Filipino fishers only to please the American masters of the Philippine government. No fisherfolk will dare to sail in the militarized waters because Filipino and American soldiers are obviously mobilizing thousands of their troops to impose an intimidating presence among the fishing communities in the province,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement, assailing President Rodrigo Duterte’s subservience to the United States by allowing the American troops to exploit our soil as a mere launching pad for war on aggression.
Fisherfolk calls Cimatu’s order on protected areas “anti-environment”
Manila, Philippines – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has earned the ire of the activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) over the resumption of the special use agreement for protected areas (SAPA), saying this opens the floodgates for environmental destruction to the country’s pristine protected areas.
SAPA allows protected areas such as strict nature reserve, natural park, natural monument, wildlife sanctuary, protected landscapes and seascapes to be used for agroforestry, ecotourism, communication and power facilities, irrigation canals, aquaculture, and for weather and other scientific monitoring facilities.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 2011 suspended the issuance of SAPA.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap said the lifting of the suspension of SAPA lays open our preserved areas such as forest and marine zones to corporate activities that pose environmental disaster.
“With the resumption of issuance of SAPA, protected areas will be more vulnerable to various forms of corporate plunder embedded with environmental destruction. It will further the conversion of preserved marine areas into mere ecotourism zones and private aquaculture farms,”
Fisherfolk deplores Chinese installation of missile systems in Spratlys
Manila, Philippines – The activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) strongly condemns the deployment of missile systems of China on the three artificial islands in Kalayaan Group of Islands (internationally Spratly Islands).
Reports claimed that China has installed cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross), Zamora Reef (Subi), and Panganiban Reef (Mischief) – three of the seven reefs seized and transformed by China into artificial islands despite the international arbitration decision invalidating their claim.
“We condemn China’s installation of military armaments in our marine territory in the strongest possible terms. China has already reached the peak of violating our sovereign and territorial rights. And this is despite the existence of an international law which guarantees that the West Philippine Sea are indisputably part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA assailed the Duterte government’s constant silence on the issue, blaming President Rodrigo Duterte on why the contested waters are now armed and militarized.
“We hold Duterte accountable over this Chinese takeover of our marine territory and resources. His consistent defeatist approach on this long-running sea row has now led to complete transformation of our resource-rich territory into a fortified Chinese military zone,” added Hicap, calling all Filipinos and patriots to unite and defend the territory against Chinese invasion and other forms of foreign intervention.
“We call on the Filipino patriots to unite and actively assert our exclusive rights in the West Philippine Sea. We have no illusions that our President will step up to his role as chief executive and uphold our sovereign rights and territorial integrity,” ended Hicap. ###