January 14, 2019
Fishers urged DENR to declare Manila Bay a ‘reclamation-free zone’
Manila, Philippines – The activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Monday urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to perform its mandate in protecting the environment, including the Manila Bay by declaring it as a reclamation-free zone. This, the group added, is to effectively rehabilitate one of the country’s major fishing grounds which currently suffer from environmental degradation stage caused by past and present privatization projects.
The fisherfolk group earlier lambasted the DENR for using the issue of pollution to demolish hundreds of thousands of residents, mostly fisherfolk and pave way for large-scale land reclamation projects. PAMALAKAYA casts doubt on the seriousness of the DENR to rehabilitate Manila Bay, when the said agency has keep on facilitating processes of reclamation, including providing environmental permits to proponents and private developers.
“Just last week, one of our municipal chapters had acquired a notice of public scoping from the DENR to facilitate the proposal of a local government unit to reclaim 420 hectares of Manila Bay in the part of Bacoor, Cavite. While environment secretary Roy Cimatu blames Manila Bay residents of disposing garbage and domestic wastes in the sea, he failed to address on the other hand the lethal risk of massive reclamation projects to the marine environment and ecosystem. Reclamation has caused the traditional fish and shellfish species in Manila Bay to get extinct because coral reefs and mangrove forests have been destroyed to give way to commercial business districts and private establishments which only benefit giant businesses,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
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.