In a joint protest, farmers and fishers declared war vs. TRAIN
Manila, Philippines – Fishers and farmers under the groups Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Monday trooped the House of Representatives (HOR) to protest and call for the scrapping of the newly-implemented Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) which according to the groups, poses a heavy burden to the agriculture sector, especially with the sudden increase of oil and petroleum products.
PAMALAKAYA mentioned in earlier statements how the TRAIN’s oil-price hike is detrimental to the fisherfolk who consume regular gasoline or diesel for their daily fishing operations.
Reiterating their earlier statement, the group said price of gasoline has increased to P49.20 per liter, from P43 per liter before the new tax reform has been implemented. This means a small fisherfolk who regularly consumes 12 liters of gasoline per fishing trip have to prepare at least P600, from P516 for the gasoline alone. PAMALAKAYA said the cost of petroleum products eats up almost 80% of their production trip.
“Production cost per fishing operations has increased while the income stays the same. The production output does not even match the production cost because of uncertain fish catch in the sea. What’s certain here is the agriculture sector like us will not be spared from the abrupt price-increase of basic commodities and oil products,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
TRAIN’s destination: massive demolition
PAMALAKAYA even more laments the destination of the revenues of TRAIN, which according to the Department of Finance (DOF) will fund 25% of the infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build (BBB) program of President Rodrigo Duterte. Several projects under the BBB will be constructed in fishing communities and involve reclamation activities in coastal waters, which the fisherfolk group said will entail massive demolition of fishing communities and destruction of marine resources.
One of the BBB projects approved in the coastal community is the Tide Embankment Project also known as ‘Great Wall of Leyte’, a long stretch of seawall from Tacloban to the town of Tanauan, Leyte. The project according to the group would effectively displace more than 14,000 households, mostly fishing families, from 1 city and 2 coastal municipalities in the province of Leyte.
“The Duterte government imposes hefty taxes from us to generate funds for his dream infrastructures that would wipe out a whole fishing community; it is like we are paying for our own displacement, or more like we are being loosely cooked in our own fats,”
“We will not let this government make us its milking cow in exchange for farce infrastructures that are not actually beneficial to the Filipino people, but instead will pave way for corporate sell-out of fishing waters and community displacement,” ended Hicap. ###