Fishers trooped DA to demand lifting of galunggong importation order
Manila, Philippines – “There are plenty of fish in our seas. Why would the government feed its people with imported fish which are inferior in quality and with health risk, when we can have different varieties of fresh, locally-produced marine products,” According to the national fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) as they protest the importation of 45, 000 metric tons (MT) of galunggong (round scad) at the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Monday.
“We strongly demand agriculture Secretary William Dar to cancel his order in the name of the fishers’ and consumers’ welfare. Importation would not stabilize the inflation because middlemen system is highly prevalent in our fish ports and markets, they are the ones who control and dictate the market price, which is way higher from the farm gate value. Rather, the agriculture department must focus on strengthening the livelihood capacity of municipal fisherfolk across the country to boost fisheries production,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said during the protest.
Hicap, former Anakpawis Partylist solon, also slammed the DA for failing to learn from the lesson of the last year’s importation order of 17,000 metric tons of galunggong. It pulled down farm gate prices as low as P60 per kilo, while retail prices remained at P150 to P170 per kilo. He said that the present’s retail prices at P300 to P350 per kilo reek of profiteering as farm gate prices are at P100 to P120 per kilo. The group raised fear that importation could pull down farm gate prices lower than P100 per kilo.
“Importation failed to pull down retail prices last year, obviously because the market is controlled and dictated by monopoly traders. Lalong mawawalan ng halaga ang huli ng mga mangingisda sa pagpasok ng panibagong mga imported,” Hicap lamented.
The protesting group brought with them alternative fish products to call the public to “patronize local fish products, and reject the imported ones,” with some carrying slogans “lokal na isda ang bilhin, huwag ang may formalin!”
“We call on the Filipino consumers to reject and denounce this importation measures by the Duterte administration, and support our small fishers by buying local marine and aquatic products,” ended Hicap. ###