West Philippine Sea
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. ###
Joint exploration in West Philippine Sea immoral and unconstitutional – fisherfolk
Manila, Philippines – The national alliance of fisherfolk Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Thursday opposed the plan of President Rodrigo Duterte to engage in a joint gas and oil exploration with China in the contested West Philippine Sea, saying this means total surrender of our territory and patrimony to Beijing.
West Philippine Sea is part of the country’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS), therefore, only the Philippines has the right to explore, develop, and utilize its natural resources as stated in the National Economy and Patrimony provisions of the 1987 Constitution.
The fisherfolk group claims we have the entire historical, legal, and political basis to exercise our right over the disputed West Philippine Sea and they are dismayed by how President Duterte abandons these bases.
“After all the hard work and tireless efforts we’ve made to make the world recognize our right in West Philippine Sea, the President seems to waste it all by approving joint oil and gas exploration in our water. President Duterte has gone overboard to compromise our territory; he does nothing to stop Chinese reclamation activities in West Philippine Sea that threaten its marine biodiversity, he lets giant Chinese fishing vessels to exploit our marine resources leaving less for Filipino fishermen, and now he wants to open the area for unequal joint exploration. With China’s more sophisticated exploration technology, there would be nothing left to us,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Fisherfolk unperturbed with President Duterte’s SONA, slams planned joint
exploration with China
Manila, Philippines — “President Rodrigo Duterte’s state of the nation was filled with hollow and expletive rhetoric, failed to address the plight of the Filipino people,” This was the reaction of the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on the second State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte yesterday.
The fisherfolk group who mobilized hundreds of its fisherfolk members mainly from Southern Tagalog region assailed President Duterte for not making good on his progressive promises before on the fishing sector, particularly the active assertion of our territorial and sovereign rights in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
PAMALAKAYA rejects the joint exploration with China in the West Philippine Sea that President Duterte announced during the press conference conducted at the House of Representatives after his SONA.
“We are dismayed by the softening of President Duterte towards China. We do not want him to exactly do what he promised before on riding a jet ski and stick a Philippine flag in Scarborough Shoal. But everything he promised except making Filipino fisherfolk return to Scarborough Shoal turned into lies,”
Fisherfolk staged State of the Fishers’ Address (SOFA) to assess President Duterte
Manila, Philippines – In the form of street press conference, fisherfolk under the group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Friday staged its first State of the Fishers’ Address (SOFA) at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to deliver their one-year assessment on the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, as well as to air their concerns regarding the fishing sector that the administration still needs to adhere.
Fisherfolk from Laguna de Bay, Manila Bay and Southern Tagalog region gathered to bring their respective yet common issues besetting their fishing communities. Some of the key points of the assessment were the issue of sovereignty, Laguna Lake rehabilitation, and reclamation of fishing waters.
The fisherfolk group gave a satisfactory rating on President Duterte regarding the Laguna Lake rehabilitation due to his unprecedented order to demolish vast tracts of fish pens in the 90-thousand hectare brackish lake. But the group also criticized the government’s “ningas kugon” approach on the order especially after the Secretary of DENR has been replaced by former military Chief Roy Cimatu where demolition of fish pens has been set aside.
The group urged the present administration of DENR to still pursue the clearing out of fish pens in Laguna de Bay to give time for its ecological system to restore and let the small fisherfolk savor its aquatic resources.
Fisherfolk slams China’s military bases in Kalayaan Islands
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) lashes out at China over the ongoing construction of military facilities in the three major reefs in Spratly Group of Islands, a part of the West Philippine Sea located 280 nautical miles away from the province of Palawan.
New satellite images show missile shelters and radar communications facilities are being built on the Fiery Cross (Kagitingan), Mischief (Panganiban), and Subi (Zamora) reefs in the country’s Kalayaan group of islands.
For decades now, China claims almost 90% of the South China Sea using their 9-dash line assumption as historical basis.
PAMALAKAYA said China has been disrespectful ever since to our territory despite the existence of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), an international law which states that the waters being claimed by China in the South China Sea are indisputably part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS). The group said the country’s legal basis to claim the waters strengthens when we won before the international court of arbitration in June last year.
“China shows no respect in our sovereign rights and territory by continuously installing artificial islands intended for military use. We demand China to humbly give up its unjust claim over our territory because they deeply destroy our marine resources that would eventually backlash to the livelihood of Filipino fisherfolk and to the country’s food security,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Duterte’s unstable promises
Fisherfolk’s one-year assessment to President Duterte
Manila, Philippines – “Among the prominent achievement of President Rodrigo Duterte within one year in his office is the unprecedented order to demolish vast tracts of fishpens in Laguna de Bay, which for years deprived the small fisherfolk of their communal fishing ground. The campaign was spearheaded by then environment Secretary Gina Lopez. We monitor that more than 1,000 hectares of fishpens have been demolished from the time of former Secretary Lopez, until she was rejected by the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) and her position was taken over by ex-military Chief Roy Cimatu, where the campaign started by Lopez, by our knowledge is currently put on halt,” Fernando Hicap, Chairperson of fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) said in a statement.
“On our sovereignty, we welcome President Duterte’s efforts to hold diplomatic negotiations with China resulting to the return of Filipino fisherfolk in Scarborough Shoal, after almost four years of being denied access to their traditional fishing zone due to intense Chinese militarization and hostility. But even so, the effort of President Duterte is not enough for China to completely surrender its irrational claim over our waters. Contrary to his promise, PresidentDuterte softens his assertion to China to stop its reclamation and leave the Philippine waters,” added Hicap.
“President Duterte has been mum on the long-time clamor of the fisherfolk to junk the almost two decades Fisheries Code of 1998, which was amended in time of President Benigno Aquino III through the Republic Act 10654. The hefty fines and strict fishing rules of the amended fisheries law afflict the fishing sector into deeper poverty. With the amended Fisheries Code, small-fishers today endure the heavy taxation and registration fees under the Boat Registration (BoatR) and Fish Registration (FishR) programs where they are compelled to enlist their fishing gears and even themselves to the local government only to be considered by the fisheries bureau as legal fisherfolk,” said Hicap.
“We are not surprised on why the administration pursues and actually widens the National Reclamation Program (NRP) and the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) which consists of multifold infrastructure projects. The “Dutertenomics” or the administration’s economic program focuses on major infrastructures largely funded by China. Some of the projects are land-based while some will be built on top of the water through reclamation and conversion of fishing waters. NRP consists of more than 100 reclamation projects covering 40,000 hectares of waters throughout the archipelago. These reclamation projects if completed would result to displacement of millions of fisherfolk and coastal settlers from their livelihood to pave way for private and even government projects,” Hicap lamented.