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. ###