Pamalakaya slams BFAR fish ban in Bicol region due to Balikatan exercises
The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Monday slammed the plan of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Region V office to impose a six-month fish ban in the Bicol region in anticipation of the six-month Balikatan exercises that will officially start in April.
A regional BFAR official last week announced that the bureau will impose fish ban starting April to September this year in the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate where the RP-US joint military exercises will be held.
“This is tantamount to massacre of Bicolano fisher people rights and livelihood. This not only illegal, unconstitutional and immoral, this is super diabolical and all-out evil and puppetry,” Pamalakaya vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France said in a press statement.
France, also the chairperson of the Pamalakaya-affiliate Lakas ng Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol) said in anticipation to the US war ships expected to carry some 3,000 regular US troops and personnel who will participate in the six-month joint military training will ban fishing in Ragay Gulf, Albay Gulf and Sorsogon Bay, three of the major fishing areas in Bicol and home to more than 100,000 small fisherfolk.
The Pamalakaya leader said BFAR-Region V will ban fishing in the coastal municipalities and cities of Tiwi, Malilipot, Malinaw, Bacacay, Sto. Domingo, Manito, Rapu-Rapu, Legaspi City and Tobaco City in Albay province, and Prieto Diaz, Bacon, Gubat, Barcelona, Bulusan, Matnog, Casiguran, Bulan, Joban, Donsol, Pilar Magallanes, Castilla and Sorsogon City in Sorsogon province, and nearby coastal municipalities in Masbate province.
“We saw it coming. There’s no recourse for us but to face and fight this anti-fisherfolk Balikatan exercises in the sea, in the parliament of the street and in the court of public opinion. Over a hundred thousand fishermen will lose their livelihood to this crazy and shameful military stint known as Balikatan exercises. We will not allow this puppet government to sacrifice our rights and livelihood to please their Washington-based military puppeteer,” France said.
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines is expected to mobilize thousands of government troops and impose its intimidating presence in fishing communities to provide blanket security to US troops participating in the joint military exercises,” according to Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.
Hicap said the RP-US Balikatan exercises were not only meant to gain future access to guerilla fronts maintained by the CPP and the NPA. He said the joint military training exercises will also cover intelligence and military operations against militant groups in the region which the AFP and the US State Department labeled as front organizations of the CPP in the Bicol region.
“The sinister agenda of Balikatan exercises include intelligence work on various people’s organizations, their leaders and mass members highly critical of US military and economic interests in the Philippines, and very vocal against the reactionary troops and ruling puppet regime in Malacañang. This is Vietnam War in the making,” Hicap added.
“We hope we could mount a regionally coordinated fluvial protest action in April against US military intervention and war of aggression in the Bicol region,” the Pamalakaya leader added.
Pamalakaya agreed with the observations raised by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed political wing—the NPA that the plan to conduct annual Balikatan exercises in Bicol region and other parts of the country signaled heightened US military intervention in the local civil war.
“The joint war exercises scheduled in Bicol this April are just a premiere night of an upcoming war of aggression to be led by US troops and their puppet mercenaries in the Philippines. The US wants to have a repeat of the Vietnam War in the 60s” the group added.
In an earlier statement, the CPP claimed that in the past three years, there have been several sightings of US spy planes in the vicinity of NPA guerilla fronts in Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol and Northeastern and Southern Mindanao. #