Militant group proposed P 10K subsidy for poor fishing families in Red Tide, Fish kill areas

By Chocolate Moose Fernandez and Trinity Biglang Awa

Manila, Philippines-The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) proposed on Friday the allocation of P 10,000 per month economic and production subsidy to fishing families affected by red tide and fish kill, which are attributed to the ongoing dry spell brought about El Nino phenomenon.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the proposed 10 thousand peso economic and production subsidy for each poor fisherfolk affected by El Nino would keep production alive and would enable small fishermen to go on fish capture beyond the 15-kilometer municipal fishing ground which is currently scarce for fish due to extreme heat.

“The P 10,000 subsidy per month for fisherfolk in red tide and fish kill areas would help to keep the wheels of production on the go, aside from providing immediate relief to poor fishing families,” added Hicap.

The Pamalakaya chair said the government should mobilize the P 1.7 billion El Nino budget allotted last year and the calamity funds of provincial and local government units to provide relief to red tide and fish kill stricken areas all over the country.

The fisherfolk leader also urged senators and congressmen to donate their remaining salaries from March 1 to June 30, including unspent portions of their pork barrel to fisherfolk and farmer victims of El Nino.

Hicap said the public could generate P 40,425 each from each district congressman. If there are 220 district congressmen, the fund which could be raised would be P 8,893,500 per month or
P 35.57 million for four months. There are 23 senators at present, and each senator also receives
P 40,425 per month or P 929,775 for all senators. If they senators decide to donate their salaries to El Nino victims, the amount that can be generated from senators’ salaries for next four months would be
P 3,719,100.

“If there are 243 congressmen and senators who will donate at least P 20 million of their remaining pork barrel for the year, that would amount to P 4.86 billion, excluding their salaries. All in all, the combined salaries and donated pork barrel would amount to over P 5-billion which could be of big help to affected farmers and fishermen,” the Pamalakaya official said.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Thursday reported cases of fish kill in Magat River where fishermen reported 30 tons of cultured tilapia due to prolong dry spell and absent of rainfall over the last three months. The fish skill sent the price of tilapia down from P 50 per kilo to P 30 per kilo. The bureau is also monitoring possible fish kills occurrences in several fishpond towns of Pangasinan—Dagupan City, Sual, Bolinao and Anda, which recorded cases of fish kills during the times of El Nino and period of extreme heat.

Aside from Pangasinan, BFAR is also monitoring possible occurrence of fish kills in fishpond areas in Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Zambales, Pampanga, Bataan and Bulacan provinces in Central Luzon.

The fishery agency also predicted an increase in the incidence of red tide in the country in the coming months. He identified the areas of Manila Bay encompassing Bataan, Bulacan, parts of the National Capital Region and Cavite province, Sorsogon Bay in Sorsogon, Murcielagos Bay in Misamis Occidental, Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur, and Bislig Bay in Surigao del Sur as contaminated with red tide.

Pamalakaya said the identified areas where fish kills and red tide regularly occur should be the immediate focus of P 10,000 economic and production subsidy grant, but other fishing areas should also be covered and the amount would be different since it is a case to case basis. However, the group proposed that in areas where there are no cases of red tide and fish kills, but affected by reduced catch due to El Nino, the government could provide P 4,500 for production subsidy per month to small fishers operating motorized boats and P 2,500 for fisherfolk operating non-motorized boats.

Earlier, Pamalakaya, Anakpawis party list and Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) submitted a 5-point Omnibus demand to Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) that would cushion the impact of El Nino to small fisherfolk and urban poor communities situated along the lake.

The 5-point Omnibus Demand presented to LLDA General Manager Edgar Manda includes supply of 1 sack of rice per family for free beginning March to July this year.

The proposal submitted to LLDA likewise calls on the lake agency to compel local government units to immediately release the calamity funds intended for their respective constituents and allows fisherfolk and farmers plant crops for their subsistence or alternative livelihood.

The 5-point Omnibus demand also put to task the Department of Health (DoH) to mobilize doctors and health workers to look into the situation of poor folk and be ready to provide the lake people with free checkups and medicines. The demand also urges government to set aside at least P 1,500 worth of groceries package for every family of poor fisherfolk and lake resident in the 90,000 hectare Laguna Lake representing the 9 lake towns of Rizal and 18 lake towns of Laguna, including the cities of Pasig, Taguig and Muntinlupa and the municipality of Pateros- all in National Capital Region.

Instead of proceeding with demolitions of fishing villages, privatization and conversion of public lands along the lake, we urge the government to provide P 5,000 rehabilitation grant to every fishing family so they could repair their houses wrecked by typhoon Ondoy last year. #

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