On 2019 Int’l Human Rights Day
Fishing rights are human rights! – Pamalakaya
Manila, Philippines – In marking the 2019 International Human Rights Day, leaders and members of the fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) joined workers and peasant organizations, and human rights advocates at the protest in Mendiola bridge, Manila. The group demanded for the Duterte government to recognize fishing rights as human rights, amid many issues hounding the sector.
“Habang pamilyar ang marami sa mga karaniwang human rights, hindi naman masyadong naririnig at lalong di kinikilala ang fishing rights bilang human rights sa bansa. Simtomas nito na ang mga mangingisda ay tinuturing na poorest of the poor, o mahigit 40% ang poverty incidence,” Pamalakaya National Chairperson and former Anakpawis Party-list Representative Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap said in a press statement.
He based his claim to the 1987 constitution, particularly from the provisions on articles on National Economy and Patrimony, Social Justice and Human Rights, as well, as to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Under Section 2, under National Economy, it was stated that it will allow “small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, as well as cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fishworkers in rivers, lakes, bays, and lagoons” and “rights, privileges, and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos.” While, in Social Justice and Human Rights, the state is bound to fully protect labor and promote full employment.
“Malinaw na malala ang paglabag ng fishing rights ng mangingisdang Pilipino. Sa exclusive economic zone pa lang sa West Philippine Sea na dapat ay pinapakinabangan ng mamamayang Pilipino, ay hindi ito kinikilala ng imperyalistang Tsina. At noong binangga ang F/B Gem-ver noong Hunyo, nagsilbi bang abugado ng Tsina ang administrasyong Duterte,” he stressed.
Moreover, the ongoing and pending reclamation projects in Manila Bay such as the San Miguel Corporation’s Aerotropolis project in Bulacan and Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project, and across the country, and privatization of bay areas are outright manifestation of blatant non-recognition of fishing rights.
“Ang pagpapalayas sa mga komunidad ng mga mangingisda para bigyang daan ang reclamation projects at privatization ng mga baybaying dagat ay paglabag sa fishing rights,” the fisherfolk leader said.
Worse, fisherfolk activists in the country are being persecuted for asserting fishing rights, and particularly opposing the undemocratic provisions of the Republic Act 8550 Fisheries Code of 1998 and its amendments RA 10654.
“The Fisheries Code and its amendments does not cater the interest of small fishermen. It favors big commercial fishing vessels, and it undemocratically bans subsistence fishing, such as the fishing bans presently declared in Palawan and Zamboanga, which are wholesale violation of fishing rights or right to livelihood,” he slammed.
Among victimized were their local leaders in Negros Oriental, Alberto Tecson, Chairperson of Pamalakaya-Guihulngan Chapter, killed in July 2017, and Jaime Delos Santos, his successor, killed on October 6, 2018. In April, local Pamalakaya leader in Escalante City, Negros Occidental, Francisco Laza was arrested and filed with trumped up charges. The fisherfolk activists in Escalante City are the main opposition of large-scale and destructive fishing by commercial vessels in Tañon Strait. Moreover, in February, local leader of peasant and fisherfolk group in Palawan, Norly Bernabe was arrested. He was opposing land grabbing and displacement of fisherfolk communities in the province.
“Hustisya ang panawagan namin sa mga lider-mangingisdang biktima ng extra-judicial killing at kalayaan sa mga bilanggong pulitikal na inaresto dahil sa pagsusulong ng fishing rights sa bansa. Ngayong Human Rights Day, panawagan namin sa malawak na mamamayan na suportahan ang laban ng maliliit na mangingisda para sa fishing rights at right to livelihood,” Hicap ended. ###