April 30, 2021
MR. ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
New York, USA
Dear Secretary-General Guterres,
With the continuing aggressive occupation of China to nearly the entire South China Sea which poses adverse effects to the environment, fishery resources, and livelihood rights of the Filipino fisherfolk, we are humbly requesting for your intervention and action over this matter.
MR. FERNANDO HICAP
MR. SALVADOR FRANCE
MR. PEDRO GONZALES
MS. ANNALIE DELOS SANTOS
Coordinator, PAMALAKAYA – SOUTHERN TAGALOG
Chairperson, PAMALAKAYA – PALAWAN
MR. RONNEL ARAMBULO
Coordinator, PAMALAKAYA – RIZAL
MR. JERWIN BAURE
Chairperson, AGHAM – UP DILIMAN
Advocates Of Science And Technology For The People /
Resident Fisheries Expert, PAMALAKAYA
Urgent Appeal to the United Nations to Investigate the Impact of Chinese Aggression and Plunder in the West Philippine Sea on the Right to Food and Livelihood of Filipino Fisherfolk
When China seized and occupied the Mischief Reef (locally known as Panganiban Reef) in 1995, the constriction of Filipino fishers’ movement in their traditional fishing areas noticeably took its turn for the worst. To present, China has intensified its aggressive occupation of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), in spite of the 2016 ruling of the United Nations – backed Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) that invalidated Beijing’s “Nine-Dash Line” claim of almost the entire South China Sea, of which covers 80% of the West Philippine Sea.
In the past years, Filipino fishers has been denouncing the seizure of fishing grounds in the West Philippine Sea by Chinese naval forces. It resulted into the declining fish catch, territorial encroachment of safety areas during inclement weather such as the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough) and shrinking contribution of the fisheries sector to the national economy.
The West Philippine Sea accounts for 26% of the country’s fishing grounds that serves as source of livelihood and food for tens of thousands of fishers from different provinces. In 2014, the Philippine government estimated that 311-hectare reclamation activities of China has brought about the loss of P4.8 billion (around USD 100 million) for the fisheries sector and national economy.
In 2019, Filipino marine scientists from the University of the Philippines assessed that the near 2,000-hectare damages of reclamation activities and occupation to coral reef has reached P33 billion (around USD 687 million).
In April 2021, a group of scientists estimated that the 16,000 hectares of documented reef destruction is valued at P1.92 trillion annually (around USD 27 billion). Moreover, a famed economist estimated that the latest Chinese imperialist plunder is at USD 6 billion annually, and the more than 250 fishing vessels occupying the Julian Felipe Reef could have plundered 3 million metric tons from the Panatag Shoal and the Kalayan Island Group (KIG). A national task force for the West Philippine Sea reported that a conservative total of 240,000 kilos per day are being plundered by the Chinese fishing vessels.
Filipino fishers from Palawan province who usually fish from the Julian Felipe Reef are now suffering dwindling catch, or to filling up their boats are now taking a month or two in the open sea, as compared to only two weeks, in the past decade.
Fishers from the Zambales province are denouncing the Chinese occupation of the EEZ, as they suffer low or almost no catch, from their previous average valued at P4,000 (around USD 83).
The international community has been aware of Chinese imperialist aggression and plunder in the West Philippine Sea and this generates fear and intimidation among helpless Filipino fishers. Thus, we humbly appeal to the United Nations to investigate the impact on livelihood of the affected Filipino fisherfolk and food security.
This appeal is in the framework of upholding the basic Rights to Food and Livelihood of Filipino fisherfolk, who are the direct victims, and for the peaceful, diplomatic and non-military resolution to the Chinese aggression and plunder.
Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas
(National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organizations in the Philippines, Pamalakaya)
Copy of the petition letter April 30, 2021 Pamalakaya Ph Petition Letter to UN Secretary-General re Right to Food of Small Fisherfolk