PAMALAKAYA storms DA to demand release of calamity fund for typhoon-hit fisherfolk
Manila, Philippines – The militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Friday trooped the Department of Agriculture (DA) central office to demand livelihood assistance for the fisherfolk adversely affected by the successive typhoons, particularly the recent Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco) that rendered thousands of coastal families in Southern Luzon homeless.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA said that DA should mobilize its P1.5 billion Quick Response Fund (QRF) which is under the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA). The QRF is intended for communities affected by natural or human-induced calamities, epidemics, crises and catastrophes. Moreover, the fishers’ group added, the agriculture department should “move for a supplemental budget from congress if necessary”.
“The successive calamities are inflicting too much hardship to the lives and livelihood of the fisherfolk. We are not begging, but we are asserting what is rightfully ours. The government is accountable to us. It is very crucial that the budget for calamity and emergency on the hands of DA be mobilized and directly distributed to the affected fishers and farmers without further delay,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said during the protest.
During the protest, fisherfolk from Southern Tagalog region, among the hardest hit of the typhoons, lamented that “strong typhoons after another struck and devastated coastal communities in the region, home to tens of thousands of fisherfolk”.
In Bicol region, coastal municipalities situated along the Ragay Gulf were heavily ravaged by Typhoon Ulysses. Among the areas devastated by the typhoon were coastal towns in Camarines Sur including Pasacao, Balatan, Ragay, and Bula, and coastal towns in Albay such as Libon and Pio Duran. Almost 80% of the region’s coastal families have been displaced and lost their homes. The estimated cost of damage in Bicol region is around P26.6 million as per the government data.
“Considered as among the poorest sector in the country, the fishers lost almost everything they had. Massive relief efforts initiated by various people’s and non-governmental organizations are not enough, they still need long-term aid in a form of livelihood support to help them get back on their feet and resume their journey to fish,” Hicap, former Anakpawis Party-list Representative added.
“The DA should compensate the loss of potential income of our fisherfolk and farmers. Granting our food security front liners livelihood support will give them opportunity to rebuild their lives and continue the wheels of production,” ended Hicap. ###