Fisherfolk, CSOs to raise the issue of DENR order to dismantle fisheries structures in Cavite in the Global People’s Summit on Food Systems

Manila, Philippines – As international civil society organizations held the various activities marking the Global People’s Summit (GPS) on Food Systems, fisherfolk, and urban poor groups protested in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) central office in Quezon City, two days before September 25, the set schedule for the dismantling of mussel farms and other fisheries structure in Cavite.  The mass action was led by Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), Anakpawis Party-list and the Philippine office of the global People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS).  The GPS is a counter-action around the world against the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) held today in New York City, United States.

“The DENR order to dismantle fisheries structures in Cavite should be the kind of policy the United Nations should stop.  The fisherfolk and urban poor families are suffering because of the lockdown, and declining household incomes, but the Duterte government is hell-bent on destroying sources of food and livelihood.  We are announcing to the world that in the Philippines, the government has already deprived the fisherfolk of production subsidy and ‘ayuda,’ and yet it is destroying the livelihood of poor sectors,” Ronnel Arambulo, PAMALAKAYA spokesperson said during the protest.

On September 6, fisherfolk and urban poor residents from Cavite protested in front of the DENR office, and it garnered support from international groups and joined the call to stop the dismantling of fisheries structures in Cavite as they are community-based food systems, which are sustainable and equitable. In the past weeks, the groups that expressed support were the 684,000-strong Andhra Pradesh Vyavsaya VruthidarulaUnion (APVVU), Southeast Asia Sub-Region of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanisms (CSM) for Relations with the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and International Women’s Alliance.  More groups are drafting their declaration of support as an expression of consolidated international support to the fisherfolk and urban poor sector of Cavite.

Arambulo urged all the fisherfolk communities in Manila Bay to unite together against any reclamation projects that displace their communities and sources of livelihood.

Moreover, Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator of the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination & Liberation (IPMSDL), representing the twenty-two international organizations in the Organizing Committee of the Global People’s Summit joined the Philippine counterpart protest and expressed support to the affected sectors of Cavite.  GPS organizations held mass actions today in front of the United Nations Headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, in New York City, and yesterday in India.

“While monopoly agro-corporations are lobbying at the United Nations for more corporate control over the global agriculture and food systems, here in the Philippines, the producing sector is facing the worse and more primitive issue of outright destruction of the community-based food system and displacement from livelihood, all in the name of neoliberal privatization of bay areas, for super-profits of real estate firms colluding with local and national bureaucrat capitalists.  This is an operational model of feudalism or the system where the producing sector without tenurial rights, being the social base of imperialism, facilitated by the neoliberal dogma, and involving economic projects of oligarch and foreign monopoly firms. We will make sure that the plight of the Cavite fisherfolk and urban poor sector is exposed in the Global People’s Summit on Food Systems,” she said during the protest.

She announced that the GPS would culminate at 9pm Manila today with a Declaration and Program of Action for a just, equitable, healthy and sustainable food systems, entitled “End corporate monopoly control! Fight for People’s Rights to Just, Equitable, Healthy, and Sustainable Food Systems!”

Its draft stated to drumbeat the peoples’ analysis and fundamental calls to genuine reform the global food systems: “We vow to work collectively to carry out the national, regional, sectoral, and thematic People’s Action Plans that were produced from the workshops, public forums, and consultations organized under the Global People’s Summit. These Action Plans represent our concrete and particular demands and campaigns along the four pillars of food systems transformation – (1) Food sovereignty and democracy at the core of food and agricultural policies; (2) Agroecology and sustainability in production, distribution, and consumption; (3) People’s right to land, production, and resources; and (4) People’s right to adequate, safe, nutritious, and culturally-appropriate food.”

For his part, Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao, Anakpawis Party-list National President and former representative criticized the DENR order and asserted that it is a “clearing operation” for reclamation projects such as the 420-hectare Bacoor Reclamation Project and the 1,331-hectare Cavite Five-Island Reclamation Project covering Cavity City, and towns of Noveleta and Rosario.  The latest report of the DENR submitted in congress, cited that representatives of Diamond Export Corp., a firm affiliated with Corp. and Robinsons Land Corporation, met with Bacoor City Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla on reclaiming part of Bacoor Bay, or the arson site in Brgy. Alima, where hundreds of fisherfolk and urban poor families were displaced and barred from reconstructing their houses.

“We are seeing DENR facilitating the reclamation of the fishing community which was subjected to arson, during a typhoon in November of last year, while the community was forcibly evacuated.  Instead of genuinely cleaning up the waters of Manila Bay, it is busy coordinating with the LGU to displace more fisherfolk and urban poor families relying on fisheries as livelihood,” the former lawmaker said during the protest.

Casilao led a relief distribution operation for the arson victims in November last year and was also a petitioner against Mayor Revilla on a complaint filed by PAMALAKAYA at the Ombudsman in February 2020. During his term in the 17th congress, he filed the bill declaring Manila Bay as “Reclamation-Free” Zone, and questioned the Manila Bay Rehabilitation program as a mass displacement program against fisherfolk and urban poor communities.

PAMALAKAYA and Anakpawis vowed to oppose the dismantling of mussel farms and other fisheries structures in Cavite and urged the broad public to support the affected fisherfolk and urban poor.  The groups, with lawmakers under the Makabayan bloc, are set to file a house resolution to dig into the justification of the DENR order when the Supreme Court mandamus actually ordered the development of fisheries and aquatic resources in Manila Bay.

“There is no let-up on this issue.  The members of Anakpawis Cavite are already in linked arms with the affected fisherfolk communities, as they also rely on fisheries as a source of income, and reclamation projects are certain to displace their communities.  Many fisherfolk are also seeking aid from PAMALAKAYA, for ways to defend their ‘tahungan,’ ‘talabahan’ and other sources of livelihood,” he ended.  ###

Protest by various groups and Global People’s Summit on Food Systems Philippine Organizing Committee against the DENR order to dismantle mussel farms and other community-based food systems in Cavite.

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