Tag Archives: BFAR

BFAR’s appointment of fishers to act as directors for May is “corny and cheap publicity gimmick”, says fishers group

BFAR’s appointment of fishers to act as directors for May is “corny and cheap publicity gimmick”, says fishers group

“Corny and cheap publicity gimmick”.

This was how the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) described the appointment of 17 fisherfolk leaders as national and regional directors by Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for this month, which is declared a Fisherfolk Month by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the fisheries bureau.

Last week BFAR said fisherfolk elected 17 leaders to lead the national and 16 regional bureaus with Felizardo Lim from Cavite as this year’s national director. He will lead 16 other regional fisherfolk directors, three of them are women.

The regional directors elected were Joel Parurug of the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), Benjamin Cabacungan (Region 1), Lupo Alava (Region 2), Salvacion Ruiz (Region 3), Edison Jaramillo (Region IV-A), Charles Ramal (Region IV-B), Marco Visperas (Region 5), Maximo Salavante (Region 6), Juanito Obispo (Region 7), Quinciano Galagar (Region 8), Salud Cruz (Region 9), Decie Bazar (Region 10), Natividad Gunayan (Region 11), Eduardo Casas (Region 12), Isidro Pamonag (Region 13) and Ustadz Jamad Hairol of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The fisherfolk directors under the “Mangingisdang Direktor” program of BFAR took their oath of office last May 4 in Cagayan de Oro City and will serve until the end of this month.

But Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the program was nothing but a publicity image building for agriculture secretary Arthur Yap and BFAR Director Malcolm Sarmiento, adding that the fisherfolk directors will only serve as figureheads, contrary to reports that they will act independently and with dispatch in accordance to the collective interest of marginalized fisherfolk all over the country.

“The fisherfolk directors from the national to the regional levels will merely perform front act performances for the decision makers in the fisheries sector which is dictated by transnational and local fishing monopolies across the country. The fisherfolk directors don’t have decision making powers and will just act accordingly to the corporate agenda of Malacañang’s fishing clients, period, period, period,” he added.

The Pamalakaya leader said agriculture secretary Yap and BFAR’s Sarmiento are exploiting the program by dictating to fisherfolk leaders on the government’s real agenda in fishery sector, which is to stop small fishers from fish capture activities and shift to aquaculture or fish farming.

“The government is blaming small fisherfolk using motorized and non-motorized boats on the exploitation of the country’s fishing waters and forcing the issue by calling them to leave the sea and start fish farming for an export-bane aquatic program,” he said.

“ This is an insult to the small fisherfolk, because the real exploiters of the country’s fishing waters are the foreign and local commercial fishing sectors which are overtly and covertly protected by their benefactors in Malacañang and local government units,” added Hicap.

However, Pamalakaya challenged the 17 fisherfolk directors to pursue the P 32-billion production subsidy they proposed to the agriculture department since last year. The group had previously suggested a minimum P 4,500 oil subsidy for all small fishermen operating small fishing boats and P 2,000 for non-motorized small fishing boat owners across-the-country in response to the increasing cost of production in fish capture activity.

“If the fisherfolk directors want to be useful and meaningful to their poor colleagues in 16 regions, we dare them to approve the P 32-billion production subsidy. Let them challenge the bureaucrats who put them there as figureheads and sugar coaters for Malacañang, DA and BFAR,” the group said.

The P 4,500 monthly subsidy constitutes about 50 percent of the monthly expenses spent by marginalized fishermen owning a small fishing boat in their daily fish capture. Hicap said the proposed measure if approved will benefit 313,985 small fishing boat operators and will cost the government a monthly production subsidy of P 1.4 billion per month or P 16 billion per year.

Based on Pamalakaya’s proposal for production subsidy, for non-motorized fishing boats operators, the government will spend monthly subsidy of P1.3 billion or roughly P 15.67 billion per year. All in all, the total subsidy for a little over small fishermen will cost he government some P 32 billion in total production subsidies annually.

The group said 100 percent of the production subsidy for fisherfolk operators of small fishing boats will go to oil, while around 50 percent of the proposed subsidy for owners of non-motorized fishing boats will go to gas subsidy, while the rest will go to other production and food needs of small fishermen.

Pamalakaya said the production subsidies for small fishermen could be addressed by immediately and indefinitely suspending the annual payments of foreign and domestic debts that eats up more than one-third of the annual national budget.

“The proposed fishery production subsidy program is about 10 percent of the national government’s allotment to debt servicing. It would be better if we suspend if not totally stop paying these fraudulent loans acquired and accumulated by the previous and present administrations for their own corruption purposes,” the group added. #

Leave a comment

Filed under agriculture, mind-boggling people

Bicol fishers agree to VFA abrogation, call for indefinite suspension of Balikatan exercises in the region

Bicol fishers agree to VFA abrogation, call for indefinite suspension of Balikatan exercises in the region

The Lakas ng Mga Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol) a regional alliance of small fisherfolk organizations today welcomed the proposal of Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Joker Arroyo to abrogate the 10-year old Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) saying it is about time for the Manila government to say no to Washington’s political-military arrogance, intervention and aggression to the country.

“The Manila government should welcome the proposal of Senators Arroyo and Santiago on the scrapping of the military agreement in the national of national interest. The refusal of the US government to yield custody of US Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith is a lucid testimony that Washington D.C will not honor the sovereign rights of the Filipino people as a nation,” said Salvador France, Lambat-Bicol chairperson.

France, also the vice-chair of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said lawmakers should push through with the abrogation of VFA even if the US decided to yield the custody of the convicted US rapist to the government.

“There should be no exchange deal here. The abrogation of VFA must be of paramount importance to the Filipino people, and attached to this matter is the taking of custody of Smith away from US authority since the crime is done in the Philippine soil,” the Bicolano fisherfolk leader added.

For his part, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap dared Senators Arroyo and Santiago to immediately call for the indefinite suspension of the scheduled Balikatan exercises in the Bicol region, while the abrogation of the VFA and the fight of the custody of Cpl. Smith are still being decided by the decision makers in the government.

“It is lawful, objective and morally upright for the Macapagal-Arroyo government to immediately and indefinitely suspend the holding of RP-US joint military exercises in Bicol and other parts of the country, while these issues are stake and being resolved by different branches of the government and the national public,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said the indefinite suspension that he wanted to end to scrapping of the VFA should also lead the country’s lawmakers in both Houses of Congress to investigate what it called “alleged an illegal and puzzling” census conducted by US troops and personnel in Sorsogon and other provinces of the Bicol region ahead of the RP-US joint military exercises.

“That census is illegal and unconstitutional. Seeing in on a larger political context, the census conducted by American servicemen in Bicol is Washington’s political-military intervention to the highest order. Nobody gives the US military servicemen and personnel the legal, moral and political right to conduct survey on our people. That is not really a survey activity, but surveillance of foreign state on a nation state and this is again a material evidence to argue for the abrogation of the treaty,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya said the committees on foreign relations and national defense of both the Senate and the House of Representatives should conduct a separate or joint congressional inquiry into what he called an invasion of public life in the name of US war on terror.

“The Bicol wide Balikatan escapade is a direct attack to the national sovereign rights of the Filipino people. The Senate and the House of Representatives through their respective committees should conduct an all-out congressional probe on this matter,” the group said.

Earlier, Pamalakaya and Lambat-Bicol reported that a number of US troops and personnel were frequently seen in Barangay Liyang, Irosin town in Sorsogon province conducting preliminary survey and surveillance ahead of the Balikatan exercises scheduled to begin in April this year.

In the same report, small fishermen started seeing US personnel conducting “census” in Barangay Mayngaran in Masbate City, Barangay Bagacay, Marintuk, Lalaguna and Balatukan in Mobo town, barangays Marcilla, Dapdap, Panisihan, Buenvista, Armenia, Sawang, Buenasuerte and Magsaysay in Uson town, and in the municipality of Cataingan proper all in Masbate.

Pamalakaya and Lambat-Bicol also noted the early presence of US troops in Oas town, Albay, particularly in the farming villages of San Pascual, San Miguel and Talisay, where the 5th engineering battalion of the Philippine Army is currently detailed.

But Col. Rodolfo Santiago, the military’s Executive Agent for the Balikatan Exercises confirmed the census being conducted by US troops in Sorsogon, adding it was necessary to identify potential beneficiaries of the Balikatan projects like civil works, medical and dental missions and rehabilitation and construction of facilities. The military in Bicol said the humanitarian, relief and construction activities of US troops engaged in Balikatan will benefit around 11,000 Bicolanos.

Santiago said the US soldiers who will be sent to Bicol region are non-combatants and composed only of doctors, veterinarians and construction workers. The Balikatan executive agent added that the actual RP-US joint military exercises will be held in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, and Crow Valley Range and Clark Air Field in Pampanga.

Leave a comment

Filed under foreign relations

Bicol fishers start seeing US military personnel ahead of Balikatan exercises

Bicol fishers start seeing US military personnel ahead of Balikatan exercises

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday said small fishermen in the Bicol region started seeing an unidentified number of US military personnel as early as first to second week of January conducting ocular inspection in various parts of the Bicol.

In an initial report forwarded by Lakas ng Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol), the regional chapter of Pamalakaya, it revealed that US military personnel were seen conducting initial surveillance operations in Barangay Mayngaran in Masbate City, Barangay Bagacay, Marintuk, Lalaguna and Balatukan in Mobo town, barangays Marcilla, Dapdap, Panisihan, Buenvista, Armenia, Sawang, Buenasuerte and Magsaysay in Uson town, and in the municipality of Cataingan proper all in Masbate.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap also said Lambat-Bicol also noted the early presence of US troops in Oas town, Albay, particularly in the farming villages of San Pascual, San Miguel and Talisay, where the 5th engineering battalion of the Philippine Army is currently detailed.

The Pamalakaya leader said a number of US troops were also seen in Barangay Liyang, municipality of Irosin in Sorsogon province

“They are coming by batches and appeared to be gearing for an active stunt as if the entire Bicol region is the new Iraq or Afghanistan for Washington D.C in 2009. The US military troops are seemed gearing for an all-out military intervention that could develop into a US war of aggression in the region. This senseless Balikatan exercises must be stopped at all cost,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya also assailed the looming imposition of six month to one year fish ban in the entire Bicol region once the RP-US joint military exercises go full blast this April. The group 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, the government would resort to 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.

Pamalakaya 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,” the group 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,” added Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya 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,” it said. #

1 Comment

Filed under US intervention

Pamalakaya slams BFAR fish ban in Bicol region due to Balikatan exercises

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. #

1 Comment

Filed under US intervention