Farmers, fishers still hold crown of thorns for being country’s poorest of the poor –
Manila, Philippines – The activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Wednesday was unsurprised by the recent poverty survey released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) where the fisherfolk ranks as the second poorest sector in the country, as the group claimed that past and present administrations do not actually address the prevailing poverty among the rural sector.
PSA on June 30 released its 2015 Poverty Statistics for Basic Sectors report, where farmers, fishers and children are identified as the sectors with the highest poverty incidence recorded at 34.3%, 34%, and 31.4% poverty rate, consecutively.
For its part, PAMALAKAYA blames the consistent poverty among the fishing sector on the backward, scattered, and monopolized fishing production which is reflective to the current foreign-dictated economic and foreign policies that are detrimental to the Filipino fisherfolk.
The fisherfolk group also lashes out at the government’s incompetence in protecting marine environment and resources from corporate destruction, mainly from reclamation activities and giant commercial fishing fleets that grab the fishing community and marine resources from small-scale fisherfolk.
“How unfortunate that despite being agriculture-rich and archipelagic country, the rural sector remains underprivileged and poorest,”
“Rampant marine resource grabbing and plunder, conversion of fishing waters into private eco-tourism and beach resorts, and the existing fishing laws that legalize the aforesaid; these are the highlights on why the fishing sector still hold the title of being one of the country’s poorest of the poor. Not to mention the lack of government’s subsidy and support that could uplift the lives of the fishing sector,”
“Even the government can’t hide the reality that the country’s top food-producers are also the ones who endure chronic hunger and extreme poverty,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA said even under the current administration’s positive pronouncements and actions to improve the lives of the fisherfolk, concrete policies that will systematically and comprehensively raise the lives of the fishing sector remain ungrasped for the government side.
“We welcome several programs of the present administration to initially raise the lives of the fisherfolk including the unprecedented campaign to remove fish pens in Laguna de Bay. But as long as the order is not written in black and white and be able to transform it into concrete policy, giant aquaculture and fishing firms will continue to proliferate throughout the fishing waters, not only in the Laguna Lake, leaving the small-scale fisherfolk always at the losing end,” said Hicap.
On President Rodrigo Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA), fisherfolk will take to the streets to demand the Duterte administration an end to the existing repressive fishing policies and come up with more objective fishing programs that will uplift the lives of the impoverished sector. ###