Fisherfolk group demands probe on the beating of Batangas fishers
Manila, Philippines – The nationwide alliance of fisherfolk Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Sunday urged the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Central Office to investigate the beating and harassment of Bantay Dagat (sea patrols) against six fishermen in Brgy. Papaya, Nasugbu, Batangas on July 17.
5 fisherfolk were badly hurt while one fisherman is still missing after they were harassed by a group of armed men identified as members of BFAR’s Bantay Dagat led by its Chief and also a Brgy. Chairman Marlon Limboc.
According to the report, while the 6 fishermen were on a fishing expedition, a group of armed men fired shots against their boats, held them and forced them to jump off the sea after being beaten by their captors.
According to PAMALAKAYA, this blatant abuse against the small fisherfolk who were only doing their livelihood is highly unacceptable and someone must be held accountable. The fisherfolk group believes that the recent maltreatment against the fishermen has something to do with the baseless strict fishing rule under the amended Fisheries Code that gives authority to Bantay Dagat to catch after their so-called “illegal fishers”.
“We call on BFAR to investigate and respond swiftly and accordingly on this matter. The fisherfolk who were harassed are only doing their livelihood yet the BFAR-delegated enforcers took advantage of their positions to disrupt, intimidate, and even rob their personal belongings and money that they earned from fishing,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The group also criticized the orientation of Bantay Dagat where it was originally created to go after commercial fishing fleets who exploit the municipal fishing zone. But the reality shows that only small and subsistent fisherfolk are being restricted and targeted by this water-militia created by the BFAR.
Meanwhile, the regional chapter of PAMALAKAYA will assist the families of the fisherfolk victims to file a formal complaint against the Bantay-Dagat enforcers.
“We are already coordinating with fisherfolk leaders in Batangas regarding this matter and rest assured that the Barangay Chairman and all responsible will be held accountable to give justice to our fishermen,” Ara Marcellana, PAMALAKAYA Southern Tagalog Coordinator said.
Bantay Dagat or sea patrol is a community-based sea-enforcers organization under BFAR and Department of Agriculture (DA).