Groups appeal to traders not to exploit the Taal volcano unrest, hike prices of tilapia

Groups appeal to traders not to exploit the Taal volcano unrest, hike prices of tilapia

Manila, Philippines – As prices of tilapia in some public market increased by P10 per kilo presumably because of the decline of supply, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and Anakpwis Party-list appealed to private traders not to exploit the Taal volcano unrest and cease from increasing their prices, as solidarity to the victims and part of the national contribution to alleviate the situation’s detrimental impact to the economy and poor sectors.

“Kung sa galunggong nga na artipisyal ang shortage dulot ng mga fishing ban sa mayor na pangisdaan ay nagtaas ang presyo nito sa mga pamilihan, lalo pa ang tilapia at iba pang isda sa lawa na halos maubos dahil sa pag-aalburoto ng bulkang Taal. Ang panawagan namin sa mga traders ay huwag nang samantalahin ang naturang kalamidad para magtaas ng presyo ng isda bilang pakikiisa na rin nila sa mga biktima at nasalanta,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson and former Anakpawis Partylist lawmaker said in a press statement.

Based on government monitoring, prices of tilapia are at P130 per kilo prior to the Taal volcano eruption. In 2018 the province produced more than 16,400 metric tons of bangus or milkfish, which is 4% of the country’s total production, but comprises almost all of of those sourced from the fresh water. Moreover, it produced near 64,000 metric tons of tilapia, which is more than a quarter of the total country’s production. According to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), around 6,000 fish cages in Taal Lake are at risk of being damaged, and estimated to lose more than 15,000 metric tons of fish products.

For his part, former Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao echoed the earlier call of Pamalakaya to compensate the fisherfolk sector affected by the calamity. Fish workers in Taal Lake usually earn P200 a day for their work in fish cages. The government reported that near 7,000 families or 30,000 persons from Batangas and Cavite are affected, and more than 4,000 families or 18,000 persons are sheltered in 118 evacuation centers.

“The fisherfolk and farmer victims of Taal unrest already lost their sources of livelihood, thus, the Department of Agriculture (DA) announcing the offer of loans is ill-placed. They urgently need relief and rehabilitation by compensation when the situation improves,” the former lawmaker said.

The Department of Agriculture earlier announced that affected fisherfolk and farmers could avail of their loans of P25,000, payable for three years with no interest, under the Survival and Recovery Assistance Program.

He also supported that appeal of Pamalakaya for the traders not to increase prices.

“The Duterte government, instead of focusing on the price shocks of N95 masks, should seriously study the implementation of price ceiling for tilapia as stated by the Price Act,” he urged.

Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act, provisions Automatic Price Control against illegal price manipulation, including profiteering or the sale or offering for sale of any basic necessity or prime commodity at a price grossly in excess of its true worth.

“Batangas is already under a state of calamity, and Metro Manila could be considered as part of a disaster area due to the environmental and economic effects of the Taal unrest,” he said.

Finally, the groups appealed to various sectors to support the relief missions of Southern Tagalog Serve the People Corps (STSTPC) who are directly aiding fisherfolk and farmer victims from Batangas and Cavite. ###

Taal Lake satellite image. (Zoom Earth)
Fish cages in Taal Lake.
Fish cages in Laurel, Batangas.
Fish cages in Agoncillo, Batangas.
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