Fisherfolk slams CA over Taguiwalo rejection
Manila, Philippines – “The powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) for the second time has proven that its corrupt bureaucracy is unable to stomach competent and honest cabinet members. While they instantly approved confirmation of undeserved traditional government officials, they rejected the appointment of real public servants who had done their jobs well such as former Secretaries Gina Lopez and just recently, Judy Taguiwalo who spearheaded progressive and pro-people reforms in the social welfare department in one year,” This was the statement of the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaa ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Thursday after the CA has rejected the appointment of Judy Taguiwalo as Social Welfare Secretary.
In a secret balloting in the Senate, at least 13 members of the CA voted against Taguiwalo’s confirmation.
Batangas fishers staged collective cultivation in response to demolition and recent harassment
San Juan, Batangas – Three years after being demolished from their community, hundreds of fisherfolk under the Haligi ng Batanguenong Anakdagat (HABAGAT) staged collective cultivation in Brgy. Laiya Aplaya, San Juan, Batangas as a form of unity and assertion to their right to land, shelter and livelihood. HABAGAT is the provincial chapter of the national alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) in Batangas.
In July 2014, about 600 fishing and peasant families were demolished to pave way for pseudo-development project known as the Laiya Tourism Development Plan or beach resort project. The fisherfolk in response set up barricades along the road to show that they will not leave their community.
“After three years of being ejected from our community, we are being subjected to various human rights violations and harassment including heavy militarization and intimidation in order for us to completely abandon the area,” Lino Baes, Spokesperson of HABAGAT said in a statement.
In the aftermath of demolition, elements of the 730th Combat Group Philippine Air Force (CGPAF) were deployed in the community since May 2015. Aside from the existing detachment of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) of the 59th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, there is another threat of military encampment by the 730th CGPAF to provide protection to private businesses, landlords, developers, and corporations who convert the fishing community to eco-tourism zones. In addition to this, the Macaria Development Corporation and Laiya Development Corporation, primarily owned by Federico Campos III and Victorino delos Angeles, hired private security forces and private goons to sow violence and fear against the people and to try destroy the people’s barricade against the illegal development in the community.
Since February 2017, series of violent dispersals ensued in Laiya Aplaya until last July 3, the goons and security forces hired by the Laiya Development Corp. staged indiscriminate firing resulting to wounded casualties among the encamped fisherfolk.
However, despite the violent dispersal and presence of militaries, the farmers and fisherfolk continue their protest camp and barricade to show their collective resistance against the development aggression project in their community.
Fisherfolk slams 2018 BFAR budget for aquaculture
Manila, Philippines – Questioning why the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on its proposed 2018 budget parcels out fund for aquaculture program, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) said this questionable allocation is highly alarming and deserves a thorough scrutiny.
BFAR will get P5.9-billion budget next year, a 10% lower than the 2017 budget. P687.7-million of the said budget will be allotted for aquaculture program.
“We want an explanation from the bureau of fisheries on why would they allot such huge chunk of their one-year budget to aquaculture. Will they invest their agency to this venture that will deprive municipal fisherfolk of their communal fishing grounds and facilitate the pollution of our seas? This budget could be used to other programs like mechanization and improvement of fishing technologies and equipments of small fisherfolk instead of using it for the bureau’s income generating profit,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Group slams absence of external security allocation in 2018 defense budget
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Monday questioned the 2018 proposed budget for the Department of National Defense (DND) that is worth P145 billion if this includes the development of external defense that will uphold our territory and sovereignty against foreign intervention, particularly against China who continues to claim most part of the West Philippine Sea.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA lambasts the large budget allocation for the national defense which will definitely be used for its repressive war campaigns such as the all-out-war and martial law in the whole Mindanao.
“Instead of developing our external defense capabilities, the government is more devoted to its self-declared war against its so-called internal threat which actually targets ordinary civilians on the ground. We are dismayed that President Duterte has no plan to modernize our naval equipments to defend our sovereign rights from China’s illegal occupation and reclamation in our waters,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The group says increasing the fighting capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should curtail the external threat rather than using it to intensify attacks against its own people under the banner of total war, war against drugs, and war on terror.
“The budget for defense is obviously a coffer to step up state-perpetrated offensives against the Filipino people especially those who actively resist government’s repressive policies and laws. President Duterte downplays the evident threat to our national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” added Hicap.
China’s intrusion should top the agenda in the ASEAN meet – fisherfolk
Manila, Philippines – The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Saturday urged Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayteno to make the sea row, particularly China’s unabated reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea as the top agenda on the 50th Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) which is currently being held in Manila this weekend.
The fisherfolk group raises doubt on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea that the ASEAN delegates will primarily tackle in the series of meetings, saying the proposed framework is neither legally binding nor enforceable.
China has already reclaimed seven reefs in the West Philippine Sea; three of them now facilitate the installation of military facilities. All of the reclaimed reefs and islands are indisputably part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS) as stated by the 2012 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The 2016 international tribunal ruling strengthens our legal claim over the disputed maritime territory.
The group also urged Cayetano to retract President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to enter a joint oil and gas exploration agreement with China in the West Philippine Sea because it could lead to total sell-out of our sovereignty to Beijing.
PAMALAKAYA fears the proposed joint venture with China would lead to another deprivation of Filipino fishermen to their traditional fishing ground in the West Philippine Sea because the fishing area might be declared as off limits for fishing activities once the joint exploration takes place. Another concern raised by the fisherfolk group is China’s highly sophisticated drilling rigs and exploration equipments that could exploit our marine and mineral resources.
“We urge Secretary Cayetano to raise the issue of Chinese illegal occupation and reclamation in the West Philippine Sea. These are the opportunities that the diplomat official shouldn’t miss. We expect Cayetano to diplomatically and actively assert our sovereign and territorial rights before the ASEAN delegates,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Aside from China and the Philippines, other countries who have overlapping claims over the South China Sea are Tauwa, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam. ###