Fisherfolk staged “fishing strike” against Navotas reclamation
Manila, Philippines – “We call on to stop the 650-hectare reclamation project in the city of Navotas that will phase-out more than 20,000 fishermen and coastal settlers in the country’s fishing capital,”
This was the call of the Navotas fishermen under the banner of the group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Tuesday at their fluvial protest action in Manila Bay, dubbed as fishing strike against reclamation.
The fisherfolk rode in more than 25 fishing boats while roaming from Barangay Tangos to Navotas Centennial Park where the fences and markers are being installed in preparation to the reclamation project, known as the Navotas Boulevard Business Park (NBBP).
The NBBP is a 650-hectare reclamation project approved by city Mayor John Rey Tianco intended for commercial and mixed use. More than 20,000 Navotas fishermen are expected to be displaced if the project pushes through.
The fisherfolk group likened their fate under the reclamation project to hundreds of thousands of Jeepney drivers if government’s Jeepney phase-out program nationwide will proceed.
“Like our Jeepney drivers who will lose livelihood due to Jeepney phase-out, the Navotas reclamation would effectively phase-out thousands of fisherfolk and urban poor from their livelihood and community in the name of government’s pseudo-development project. Ever since, reclamation projects are far from the interest of the fisherfolk but a detrimental to their livelihood and moreover to the delicate marine environment,”
“Ban licensing of fishing boats” – ex-solon to Congressman Tiangco
Manila, Philippines – Former Anakpawis Party-list solon and now national chairperson of the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) Fernando Hicap urges Navotas City Representative Tobias “Toby” Tiangco to suspend the registration of fishing boats in his city, asserting that the fisherfolk doesn’t need to pay just to get their boats registered to contribute to the fish production of the country’s “fishing capital”.
Hicap, a former colleague of Rep. Tiangco in the House of Representatives echoes the sentiments of the Navotas fisherfolk about the registration scheme under the amended Fisheries Code of 1998 or the Republic Act 10654 that poses heavy burden to them who hardly earn enough money for their daily needs due to high cost of fish production and deteriorating marine catch in Manila Bay.
“Like the privilege plates that Congressman Tiangco wants to ban, we also urge him to lift the fishing ordinance in his city requiring municipal fishermen to acquire boat registration number from the local government,”
“The fisherfolk doesn’t need a boat license to go offshore and contribute to fish production. The registration fees imposed among the fishermen are actually detrimental to the country’s poorest of the poor who miserably lives below the poverty threshold,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Rep. Tiangco is the main author of House Bill No. 413 banning the use of plate number “8” to avoid privilege and abusive behavior exhibited by individuals using the protocol plates, whether government officials or private individuals.
Under the Boat Registration (BoatR) program of the amended Fisheries Code, fisherfolk are required to register their boats with registration fees depending on the local government implementing the provision. Otherwise, they will be categorized as illegal fishers and will be charged with hefty fines and stiff penalties.
The fisherfolk group instead urged Rep. Tiangco to provide livelihood assistance to more than 7,000 small fisherfolk in Navotas to uplift their lives.
Around 50 fishermen yesterday protested in front of the Navotas City Hall to demand the incumbent Mayor John Rey Tiangco, a younger brother of Rep. Tiangco, to issue a moratorium on the fishing ordinance. The protest was also a build-up activity for a fluvial protest in Manila Bay on October 17 to register the plight of the fisherfolk in the town. ###