Manila, Philippines – As senators are now considering to defund the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) due to its absurd and baseless red-tagging operations against organizers of community pantries in the country, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) urged for the useless anti-communist body’s defunding and divert its budget to productive programs such as the P15,000 financial support to 1 million fisherfolk. The noble demand is being pushed by the House Bill 9192 filed by Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat last April 12, in cooperation with Pamalakaya and Anakpawis Party-list.
“We have been demanding for the defunding of the useless NTF ELCAC since last year, coinciding with our calls for support for the fisherfolk sector, who are among worse hit by the detrimental lockdown policies of the Duterte regime, on top that it is commonly known as ‘poorest of the poor,'” Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap, Pamalakaya National Chairperson and former representative of Anakpawis Party-list.
The bill, is particularly pushing for the repeal of the P16.4 billion allocation to the Barangay Development Program of the NTF ELCAC, in the General Appropriations Act of 2021, which the group said is better to be diverted to production subsidies to the fisherfolk sector.
On its Section 3, Beneficiaries, it has listed the following from around 1 million workers listed by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), as priority to receive the P15,000 financial support:
- belonging to households below poverty line;
- municipal fishers and fish workers employed or operating municipal fishing vessels, regardless of the status of licensing and registry to the respective local government unit;
- fish workers employed in commercial fishing vessels and aquaculture such as in fish pens, fish cages, fish corrals/traps, fishponds, prawn farms, sea farms, salt beds, fish ports, fishing boat or trawlers;
- other workers in ancillary sectors related to the supply, construction and maintenance of fishing vessels, gears, nets and other fishing paraphernalia; fishery machine shops; and other facilities such as hatcheries, nurseries, feed plants, cold storage and refrigeration, processing plants and other pre-harvest and post-harvest facilities;
- operators of small-scale commercial fishing vessels or vessels with gross tonnage of 3.1 to 20.
Moreover, the bill broke down the P16.4 billion as P15 billion as P15,000 financial support to 1 million fisherfolk, and P1.4 billion as supplemental appropriations for the National Fisheries Program.
The group said that this proposal is justified as the small fisherfolk sector is recognized by the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organzation (UN FAO) as among the most vulnerable and marginalized.
“The Bayanihan 1 Law did not even bother to put a provision for the benefit of the small fisherfolk. Thus, we are pushing for this bill for the interest of more than a million Filipino fisherfolk and fish workers in the country,” Hicap ended. ###