Almost omitted on Duterte’s latest report on pandemic response: Are small fisherfolk abandoned?

Almost omitted on Duterte’s latest report on pandemic response
Are small fisherfolk abandoned?

Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) raised the question on why there was little mention of support to small fisherfolk sector on President Rodrigo Duterte’s seventh report on the pandemic response, when the latter is commonly known as “poorest of the poor.” The sector was excluded on the social amelioration, as the Department of Agriculture (DA) only reported supporting rice farmers based on its Financial Subsidy to Rice Farmers program.

“Inabandona na naman ba ng gubyerno ang maliliit na mangingisda? Lalo na ngayong lockdown? Hindi lang kailangan ng pamilyang mangingisda ng tulong sa pang-araw-araw na gastos kundi para makapangisda sa laot, lalupa’t tataas ang presyo ng produktong petrolyo,” Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya National Chairperson said in a press statement.

Subsequently, fisheries was mentioned in the DA’s report “Access to Agri-Fishery Products and Ensuring an Uninterrupted Supply Chain,” which obviously geared to serve the consumers and not sustain production. It stated that BFAR distributed seedstock, seaweed, seedlings/propagules and fishing gears, worth P18.67 million to 4,913 fish farmers. Moreover, 89,591 metric tons of fish products were purchased by 245 local government units.

“Makikita na ang sinuportahan ng DA ay yung mga nasa aquaculture, at hindi binanggit kung kanino kinuha ng mga LGU ang mga produktong isda, gayung, dominante sa merkado ang mga commercial fishing, dahil karaniwang pag-aari rin ng mga lokal na negosyante. Naranasan na ng mga maliliit na mangingisda, na noong lockdown ay hindi naibyahe ang mga produkto nila dahil nga walang mass transportation, at ang nakakalusot lang ay ang mga trader na may mga pangbyahe ng produkto,” the fisherfolk leader stressed.

He further elaborated that abandoning small fisherfolk who are usually engaged in marine municipal fishing is dangerous to the food supply. One out of five of fishery products comes from marine municipal fishing, while it is around half of the volume of open sea fishing products.

“Kahit nga walang lockdown, kawawa na ang mga maliliit na municipal fishermen at ang nagdodominate ay ang mga commercial fishing operator na karaniwang mismong mga trader. Kapag pinabayaan ng gubyerno na tuluyang malugi at hindi na makapangisda ang mga municipal fishermen, malaki ang epekto nito sa suplay at kasunod na nito ay pagsirit ng mga presyo. Hindi na nga tinupad ni Sec. Dar yung binanggit niyang may hiwalay na social amelioration ang mga mangingisda, wala pang suporta para sa produksyon. Kapag hindi ito inaksyunan, alam na natin kung sino ang may kasalanan, walang iba kundi ang DA at ang rehimeng Duterte,” Hicap ended. ###

From Duterte's seventh report on pandemic response.
From Duterte’s seventh report on pandemic response.
From Duterte's seventh report on pandemic response.
From Duterte’s seventh report on pandemic response.
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