Fishers group slams Palawan’s AO5 regulating catching “suno” (“lapu-lapu”)
Puerto Princesa City, Palawan – The Palawan provincial chapter of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) slammed the Revised Palawan Council for Sustainable Dev’t Administrative Order No. 5 (PCSD AO5) and called for its scrapping as it is throwing the socio-economic standing of poor fisherfolk into degeneration or worsening poverty. It regulated the catching of “suno,” commonly known as “lapu-lapu” or grouper, thus, wiping out a reliable source of income of poor fisherfolk. Its farmgate prices range from P800 (bad size) to P2,500 (good size) per kilo, depending on its weight. The PCSD is chaired by governor Jose Alvarez.
“Kung dati may naatrasan ang maliliit na mangingisda, na maaaring kumita ng P2,000 pambili ng bigas at iba pang pangangailangan, ngayon wala na dahil sa kautusang ito. Pagkakabaon sa utang at kagutuman ang dulot nito sa mga kasapi namin,” Annalie Delos Santos, Pamalakaya Palawan Chairperson said during an interview.
The order set the closed season during March to May, while the open season was set to June to February.
“Inaangal ng mga maliliit na mangingisda ang kautusang ito, dahil kung kailan mahirap mangisda tsaka binuksan, kung kailan kalmado ang dagat ay tsaka pinagbawal. Kaya ang kikita lang dito ang malalaking commercial fishing operators na tulad ng may-ari ng kaskasan,” she said.
Kaskasan is a commercial fishing boat that can catch 20 to 30 tons of fish, equipped with 30 small boats for “pangangawil.”
She added that the order also promotes marine aquaculture or hatcheries accredited by the PCSD. These are usually operated traders who are influential to some local government officials.
“Kaya, ang kahulugan ng AO5, mamamatay sa gutom ang mahihirap na mangingisda, yayaman ng husto ang mayayamang trader. Kaya panawagan naming ibasura ito,” she said.
The fisherfolk leader lauded the opposition of poor fisherfolk from Paly island in Taytay town, who were visited by a fact-finding mission team last Wednesday. The said chapter was actively organizing its members and advancing their interests, which she said earned the reprisal of red-tagging by the military.
Pamalakaya-Palawan chapter successfully campaigned:
- in 2016, against excessive fees such as P350 for “pana,” thus, P1,400 for usually 4 pieces being used per boat, and P150 for nylon cord;
- in 2016, the fishing ban for “suno” was suspended;
- in 2016, the closed season was narrowed down from 6 to 3 months (end of December to end of May, to March 1 to end of May);
- in 2019, suspension of the 1-year closed season.
Yesterday, Pamalakaya National Chairperson and former representative of Anakpawis Party-list Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap warned local officials in Barangay Paly, to avoid interfering on the activities of its local chapters. He also blamed that the “root of all evils” against the interest of poor fisherfolk is the Republic Act 8550 Fisheries Code of 1998, that empowered local government units to impose its undemocratic orders over the fishery sector.
“Kasama kami ng Pamalakaya-Palawan sa panawagang ibasura ang PCSD AO5, at sa antas-pambansa ay panawagan namin ay ibasura ang Fisheries Code. Ang militante naming pagsusulong ng interes ng maliliit na mangingisda sa buong bansa ang dahilan kung bakit kami inaatake ng gubyernong nakikinabang sa pagsasamantala at pang-aapi. Hindi titigil ang Pamalakaya sa labang ito, kahit sino pang pulitiko ang kaharap namin,” Hicap ended. ###