Mutual aid initiatives imply Duterte’s criminal incompetence – fishers’ group

Manila, Philippines – The emergence of community pantries across the country is an indication of the bitter reality that many Filipinos are desperate for temporary aid and could not hide the criminal incompetence of the Duterte government to address the crisis, according to the militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Saturday.

“Community pantry is indeed political. It’s emergence across the country reflects the gross failures of the Duterte government to provide substantial aid to the Filipinos amid the worsening economic crisis brought about by the pandemic. The despair of many Filipinos to fall in line with these pantries for a little extra food items is not isolated from the current social condition wherein hunger and poverty are rampant due to criminal negligence and incompetence of the national government,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

“These mutual aid initiatives are inarguably applaudable as it manifests spirit of benevolence among ordinary Filipinos. But these mutual aid efforts which are temporary in character should be accompanied by government’s effective and sufficient response to the crisis,” Hicap, former Anakpawis Party-list solon added.

The fishers’ group, who donated in a community pantry with fresh and surplus produce from its members last week, was able to replenish community pantries once again through the donations of individual donors.

“As one of the poorest sectors, fisherfolks are unable to sustain supplying fish to community pantries, that’s why are calling on good Samaritans who wish to replenish a pantry with fresh fish to buy fresh produce from small fishers. In this way they are helping small fisherfolk while replenishing community pantries with fresh fishery products,” added Hicap.

Lastly, PAMALAKAYA reiterated their demand for a production subsidy worth P15, 000 for more than one million Filipinos employed in capture fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

“A P15, 000 production subsidy for small fishers will ensure that they could keep up with the increasing demand for fishery and marine products. This proposal is already a bill filed in the congress and we call on the legislators to prioritize this as urgent,” Hicap ended. ###

Fisherfolk from Laguna Lake preparing fish for community pantries.

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