Manila, Philippines — Small fishers under the country’s biggest fisherfolk federation Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) are expected to join the multisectoral protest in time of President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.
“Militant fishers are ready to brave not only the heavy rain but also the 15,000 police forces to be deployed against the anti-Duterte protesters on Monday. Why would we be even afraid of the Philippine cops when it’s already Chinese forces we have been facing in our fishing grounds on a regular fishing basis?” Bobby Roldan, a fisherman in Zambales and PAMALAKAYA’s vice chairperson for Luzon said in a statement issued ahead of the SONA.
The fishers’ group slammed the Philippine National Police (PNP) for its plan to curtail the protest along Commonwealth and imposing that only protests in freedom parks would be allowed.
“An earth-shattering no. We won’t let the PNP confine us to a freedom park where no one could see or hear us but a handful of park goers. We would be traveling from the provinces to Manila not to stage a street party and hail the Duterte regime to high heaven. We will be protesting to present the real state of the people which is authentic, based on day-to-day experience and struggle for daily survival,” Roldan asserted.
The fishers’ group said that among the issues they would raise on the counter-SONA is President Duterte’s “deliberate neglect” to defend the Philippine sovereignty against China at the expense of the livelihood and fishing rights of Filipino fisherfolks.
“China has become more aggressive than ever in occupying our territorial seas and more hostile against Filipino fishers to the extent of empowering their coast guard to just fire at non-Chinese vessels and structures they deem as invaders. We have practically lost control of our exclusive economic zone and our vital resources courtesy of Duterte’s foreign policies that adversely affect the national sovereignty, interest, and dignity of the Filipino people,” Roldan added.
PAMALAKAYA said the protest would showcase the condemnation and disgust of the fisherfolks against the Duterte regime which brings misery to the fishing sector and the Filipino people. Basic health protocols, the fishers’ group said, would be strictly observed during the protest. ###