Marking 2019 World Food Day
Manila Bay reclamation projects are obstacles to achieving #ZeroHunger – Pamalakaya
Manila, Philippines – The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) joined various peasant groups at the protest marking the 2019 World Food Day in the country, in front of the Department of Agriculture central office in Quezon City and echoed the call to repeal the Republic Act 11203 Rice Liberalization Law and RA 8550 Fisheries Code and its amendments.
“We are more than a hundred percent involved in calling to scrap the Rice Liberalization Law, as it is now transforming the agricultural landscape of our country. It is trying to displace rice producers en masse, and throwing poor consumers into beggars of imported rice,” Pamalakaya-Pilipinas National Chairperson and former Anakpawis Party-list Representative Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap said during the protest.
Hicap was the Anakpawis representative when proposals to replace quantitative restrictions on imported rice with tariffication were filed during the 16th congress. As representative of farmers in congress, he staunchly opposed the measure and instead, worked to finalize the updated draft of the Rice Industry Development Act (RIDA) bill, which was filed by his successor former representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao during the 17th congress.
“What the government is trying to hide was, that even lawmakers were not united in enacting the Rice Liberalization Law, primarily on the issue of decoupling the NFA. Some house members really intended it to be strengthened, than decoupled. But the Duterte regime determinedly pushed the repeal of NFA’s most important function such as the administration of rice importation and retailing of cheaper rice,” he added.
Moreover, he said that the fisherfolk communities, on top of already suffering from the high retail prices of rice, they are being threatened of displacement and loss of sources of livelihood, due to the pushing of reclamation projects, such as in Bacoor and Bulacan.
“Reclamation projects such as the Bacoor Reclamation Project and Aerotropolis project in Bulacan, are totally towards ‘ZeroFood’ or ‘TotalHunger,’ he slammed.
He raised that the Duterte government, by promoting these projects are essentially promoting hunger of the affected sectors. It is a symptom of undemocratic governance and exacerbation of marginalization of poor sectors in the country. At least 1,400 fisherfolk families will be displaced by the said projects if they push through.
“The loss of fishery resources development due to these projects, will reverberate to other sectors as it will contribute to the decline of food supply in the urban centers. Naturally, prices of fish products will increase more, making it unaffordable to poor consumers,” he related.
Hicap reiterated that significant reforms in agriculture and food will only be possible with broad people’s protests. The Duterte government remains a subscriber of neoliberal policies such as liberalization, thus, food security based on self-sufficiency and self-reliance is out of the question on their list of agendas.
“It is standing to serve the profit-interest of big oligarchs, such as the San Miguel Corporation, big rice traders and landlords. It has never stood for the welfare of tens of millions of marginalized sectors in the country,” he ended. ###