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,”