Nationally-coordinated fish strike vs Fisheries Code and Duterte’s anti-people policies set
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) will spearhead a nationally-coordinated fish strike in time of the 20th anniversary of the Fisheries Code of 1998 or Republic ACT 8550 on February 23.
The fisherfolk group reiterates its call to repeal the Fisheries Code which for two consecutive decades has failed to improve the miserable lives of the country’s poorest of the poor sector. The Fisheries Code was amended in 2015 under the Republic Act 10654 to deter the so-called “illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing” (IUUF) which the government claimed as the cause of overfishing. But the fisherfolk group decries the amended fishing law’s repressive fishing restrictions and regulations, saying even the traditional and backward fishing methods have been categorized by the government as “illegal”, resulting to hefty fines and penalties imposed among the small fisherfolk who barely earn enough.
PAMALAKAYA will also protest President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-people policies such as the proposed Charter Change (Chacha) which will constitutionalize the sell-out of fishing waters and coastal areas to foreign businesses, and the newly-approved Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law that poses heavy burden to the municipal fisherfolk due to the skyrocketing price increase of basic commodities and oil products.
“We are two decades a slave under the Fisheries Code which only favors the greedy interest of few commercial fish firms and developers. It promulgated modernization and mechanization of the fishing industry but in reality, our fishing gears remain backward and Jurassic; only 38% of registered fishers in a municipal level possess a mechanized fishing banca, while the remaining 62% still use traditional fishing methods or worst, no fishing boat at all,”
“Commercial fishing fleets weighing 3 gross tons and above continue to exploit the 15-kilometer municipal fishing waters that have been allotted to the municipal fisherfolk. While the corporate take-over and privatization of fishing waters through aquaculture structures and eco-tourism zones have intensified,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The central protest will be held in Mendiola, Manila where fisherfolk from the Southern Tagalog region, Laguna de Bay, and Manila Bay will gather to call for the scrapping of the Fisheries Code and propose a genuine fisheries and aquatic reform law that will genuinely address the plight of small fisherfolk in the country. ###