World Trade Organization
Fisherfolk cried hunger, empty nets on World Food Day
Manila, Philippines – On the occasion of the United Nations’ (UN) World Food Day, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) dubbed the farce occasion as World Hunger Day to refute the UN’s declaration.
World Food Day is celebrated every October 16 after the UN established the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) on the same day in 1981.
“This is the irony of the century; fishers and farmers who produce food on everyone’s table are the ones who suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Citing the recent data of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the group said farmers and fishing sectors are still the country’s top poorest of the poor; with 34.4% poverty rate on farmers while 34% on fisherfolk.
“Even the government’s account can’t hide the harsh reality that our toiling fishers and farmers are being deprived of genuine development, worse is that they are food insecure,” added Hicap.
PAMALAKAYA blames the miserable condition of the rural people to the decades-old liberalization policies that fuel landlessness, backwardness of countryside, and the rampant corporate-takeover of agricultural lands and marine resources.
The group said since the country was introduced to neoliberal policies like the World Trade Organization (WTO), our marine export has dramatically risen to 120% since 1994 up to present, leaving the local food producers starving.
“The era of neo-liberalization has triggered the exploitation and depletion of our local fish stocks. The FAO itself claims that since the formulation of the WTO, it has reported that 52% of global fish stocks were fully exploited or depleted,”
“Export-oriented local and foreign giant commercial fishing fleets are exploiting the municipal fishing zones intended for small-scale fishers,” added Hicap.
PAMALAKAYA also blames the unfair trade policies for the prevalent corporate take-over of marine resources and coastal areas to convert its productive fishing areas into eco-tourism and business hub.
“Ocean-grabbing and conversion of coastal areas are packaged in all these foreign-dictated trade deals,” added Hicap.
The group instead calls for the junking of all unequal economic and trade deals including the WTO.
“Only through the scrapping of all foreign-dictated trade pacts can the fisherfolk and farmers achieve a genuine development that will lift their sectors from the shackles of poverty,” Hicap said.
Peasant and fisherfolk groups are gearing for the National Peasant Caravan for Land and Against Fascism that will take place in major regions and provinces starting today. Thousands of farmers are expected to arrive on October 25 at Mendiola, Manila to protest the Duterte regime’s neglect to the demands of the rural poor. ###
WTO fish-subsidy written in blank space – Filipino fisherfolk
Manila, Philippines – Small-scale fisherfolk belonging to the group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) downplays the World Trade Organization (WTO) proposal to cut fisheries subsidies on its member states, saying small and subsistent fisherfolk across the globe have not even felt the subsidies since the free-trade agreement has commenced. The proposal mainly came from the European Union (EU) which seeks to achieve the 2020 targets set out in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
In a statement, the group, which also a member of the across-the-world fishers network World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP), said they didn’t even notice that there is an existing subsidy because it never reaches through them.
“The fishing sector across the globe especially those in the third world countries remain poorest of the poor, this is mainly because of the anti-fishing laws and programs from their respective states, plus the lack of subsidies and government support that will uplift their impoverished lives,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Hicap said that in the Philippines, the government allots P100 million annually for the modernization of fishing industry under the Fisheries Code of 1998, but said it is actually meant for large-scale commercial fishing corporations instead to the small fisherfolk. That is the reason why fishing sector in the country still remains backward. Citing the data of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), only 32% of fisherfolk in a municipal level owns mechanized boats with only 3-16 horsepower, while 68% still uses backward and primitive fishing gears like paddled boats and fishing rods, some don’t even own any fishing gear at all.
PAMALAKAYA said fisheries subsidy per se has nothing to do with overcapacity and overfishing of our marine resources, the WTO just uses the subsidy wrong. The group instead proposes that the subsidy be converted to the small-scale and subsistent fisherfolk in order to modernize their backward fishing gear and be able to keep pace with the large-scale commercial fishing fleets that exploit the fishing waters allotted for municipal fisherfolk.
The group also lashes out at the European Union (EU) for its misconception on the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) which leads countries like ours to set stricter fishing rules and regulations which make the small fishers the biggest losers. The requirement of free-trade agreements like the WTO to export tons after tons of fish products to foreign markets fuel these kinds of illegal and unregulated activities in the seas because commercial fishers seem to be on a race to cater the needs of the foreign markets like the European Union.
The fisherfolk group demands genuine and sufficient state-subsidies and support to advance their productivity and to end the long-standing export-oriented local production in order to sustain the country’s food security.
The WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference will be held in Buenos Aires on December 2017. ###
Ph negotiators told to review position on China-led RCEP
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Monday urged the Filipino negotiators in the 18th meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to review the guidelines and context of the inter-regional free trade and economic pact before ratifying into agreements.
The 18th RCEP meeting, which is being hosted by the Philippines started on May 2 and will end on May 12. The country’s main negotiator on the meeting is the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
RCEP is China-led mega-regional free trade agreement that covers half of the world’s population, 38% of the world economy and nearly 30% of the world’s trade volume. China aims to reach the agreement by the end of 2017 or early 2018. It is Beijing’s counter free trade agreement to U.S.-led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement which U.S. President Donald Trump has recently pulled out.
For its part, the fisherfolk group expresses doubt on why the RCEP is being negotiated in secret like the TPP and other past free trade agreements. The group said it is the prerogative of the public to be involved in a pre-consultation before entering into any agreement especially if it involves the country’s economic affairs. Past free trade agreements that were also secretly negotiated surprised the people that their sovereign and economic rights were already compromised and sold to powerful nations that lead the trade pact.
APC joins Global Day of Action against WTO
The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) joins the Global Day of Action against WTO, led by the Indonesian People’s Alliance (IPA), as the 9th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference concluded on 6th December at the Nusa Dua Convention Center in Bali, Indonesia.
By Gerry Albert Corpuz in Manila, Philippines and Chitato Artidyo and Keluar Ramayana-Bintang in Bali, Indonesia
BALI, Indonesia– Farmer organizations calling for the dismantling of World Trade Organization (WTO) and system change rebuked the statement of WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo that farmers of developing countries will be the losers if the new round of the WTO failed to approve the Bali Package.
THE Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilpinas (Pamalakaya) said President Aquino should publicly disclose the agenda of the Philippine delegation in the recently held Ninth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) held in Bali, Indonesia, from December 3 to 6.