Taal Lake a ‘slave-labor hotspot’ for fish workers – fisherfolk group
Laurel, Batangas – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) wants probe on the evident exploitation of fishworkers in the private fishpen structures in Taal Lake in the province of Batangas.
Taal Lake is the country’s 3rd largest lake at 24, 356 hectares and is surrounded by 8 towns of the province of Batangas; San Nicholas, Agoncillo, Laurel, Talisay, Cuenca, Alitagtag, Taal, and Tawilisan. It contributes 40% to the total fish production of the Southern Tagalog sub-region.
According to the fisherfolk group’s study, prominent local financiers operate more than one fishpen structures by using different dummies which also act as the workers or caretakers of the fishpens. The workers are the ones who perform the distribution of fingerlings, feeding, maintenance, and the harvesting which takes about eight months. On the other hand, the role of the financier is merely to provide production expenses like fingerlings, feeds, and structures.
On the average, a fish worker spends a total of at least 1, 230 working hours for eight months or equivalent to 6 working hours for 240 working days in the sea per day including weekends. In accordance to the regional daily minimum wage rate for agriculture sector in Region IV-A, a fish worker shall earn P350.00 per day. Basing this rate on the total average working days of a fish worker, this means that they will be paid a total of P84, 000 for 240 working days.
“Speed up search operations for the missing fishermen in Palawan” – PAMALAKAYA to PCG
Manila, Philippines – The activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Saturday urged the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to expedite its search and rescue operations on the 40 fishermen that went missing at the height of tropical storm “vinta” off the Palawan province last weekend.
26 motorized bancas and fishing vessels composed of around 40 fishermen and fishworkers went missing off the rich fishing ground in Mangsee Island in Palawan province as the typhoon “vinta” approached last December 23.
“Authorities must expedite their search and rescue operations to find the missing fishermen and fishworkers for them to spend time with their families in time of the New Year’s Eve. Fishermen were forced to go offshore despite the turbulent weather because if they don’t, their families would starve for days. While the fishworkers employed in commercial fishing fleets have no choice but to work for the big fish operators in order for them to earn enough to have a simple feast during the Yuletide season,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The group also demands the government to provide aid to the families of the missing fishermen as their incomes are in peril due to the tragic incident.
“While the families are waiting for the return of their loved ones, they deserve a government support in a form of relief because their only source of income has been devastated for days now,” ended Hicap. ###
Fisherfolk group demands aid to the zero-fishpen-affected fishworkers
Manila, Philippines – While it supports the government’s campaign to reopen the 90-thousand hectare-Laguna de Bay to small fisherfolk by dismantling vast-tracts of fish pens, the national fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) calls for immediate support to the fish workers employed in the corporate-owned fish pens that will be affected by the demolition of aquaculture structures.
PAMALAKAYA in a statement said those workers were once subsistence and small fishers that were forced to work in corporate-aquacultures due to fish catch depletion in open waters and lack of sufficient fishing gears. Workers in aquaculture are usually stay-in caretakers; they are the ones who maintain the structures, feeding until the harvesting of fish.
The fisherfolk group urges the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to determine the exact numbers of fish workers and fisherfolk directly involved in the aquaculture sector and mobilize immediate economic aid and relief to those who will be affected by the campaign.