DILG refuses to recognize “food pass” issued by BFAR Director Gongona – PAMALAKAYA
Manila, Philippines – “The food pass displayed on the windshield of the vehicle used by the Anakpawis relief volunteers was issued by no less than the national director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) with an accreditation number that can be verified directly to the BFAR,” According to the national fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Monday, responding to the claim of interior and local government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya that the food pass was ‘unauthorized’, thus justifying the illegal arrest of relief volunteers including former Anakpawis Party-list solon Ariel Casilao in Norzagaray, Bulacan yesterday.
Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said that his group has applied and acquired the food pass in April 17. The food pass has accreditation number BFAR-00-2020-22169 and validity period until June 30, 2020, and was signed by BFAR Director and Agriculture Undersecretary Eduardo Gongona. It was used for the relief efforts of Tulong Anakpawis and Sagip Kanayunan, as PAMALAKAYA is one their lead organizations. The vegetables that Pamalakaya distributed recently to the poor fisherfolk communities in Bacoor City were products of farmers of Norzagaray town. With the latest harassment, the second batch of relief distribution to fisherfolk communities in other barangays are now threatened.
“This illegal and immoral arrest could be one of the major blunder of the Duterte government’s continued effort to red-tag progressives, reaching to the point where one agency refuses to recognize the authority of another agency to issue food passes. Contrary to the statement of Usec Malaya, we underwent through a proper process in applying for the food pass, so that our delivery of relief packs to the distressed fishing and farming communities will not be hampered,” Hicap, former Anakpawis Partylist Representative added.
PAMALAKAYA called the Department of Agriculture (DA) and BFAR to deplore the Norzagaray police and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for ‘invalidating the official food pass’ that they have issued. It added that this case would drag even BFAR Director Gongona to unnecessary inconvenience, all because the police continued on its fascist framework of attacking activists, instead of sincerely adhering to the “bayanihan” spirit that the country direly needs.
“We are calling on the DA and BFAR to denounce Usec Malaya for questioning the validity of the food pass that was released for our humanitarian activity. The illegal arrest and detention of our seven volunteers including Casilao is not only a violation of the people’s right to relief aid, but also a vile harassment against our humanitarian volunteers who are considered as frontliners for providing relief goods to the poor families,” ended Hicap. ###