Tag Archives: Bicol region

RP dams under heavy “pounding” from envi groups

RP dams under heavy “pounding” from envi groups

by Megan Yang in Makati City, and Bb. Joyce Cabral in Naga City

Environmental activists, scientists, indigenous people, urban poor, and other sectoral groups staged a demonstration in front of the San Roque Power Corporation (SRPC) office in Makati City and condemned the SRPC, the National Power Corporation (Napocor) and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration for the massive flooding in Pangasinan and portions of nearby provinces of La Union and Tarlac.

“SRPC, Napocor and President Arroyo should answer to the hundreds of lives, infrastructure and livelihood that were destroyed due to the flooding and devastation caused by their utter disregard to the consequences of their business all in the name of profits,” said Dr. Giovanni Tapang, chairperson of Advocates for Science and Technology for the People AGHAM.

According to the protesters, it was the sudden release of a large volumes of water in San Roque Dam at the height of the storm Pepeng that was largely responsible for 90% of Pangasinan being under water, P12 million worth of infrastructure destroyed, P200 million worth of partial damage on crops and fish production and a number of people being drowned.

The National Power Corporation (Napocor) owns the San Roque dam and spillway, while the San Roque Power Corporation (SRPC) owns the power generating facilities while being controlled by Japanese companies Marubeni and Kansai.

“Although San Roque Dam was also designed for flood control, SRPC and NPC admitted that they keep the water levels of the dam as high as possible as this will generate more electricity. This practice is highly irresponsible and a deliberate disregard to the safety of the nearby communities,” said Dr. Tapang.

“SRPC and NPC continue to evade responsibility and even blame the unusual amount of rainfall or the victims for not heeding the flood warnings for the extent of the calamity in Pangasinan. It is unspeakable how the corporations showed no remorse and even boasted that they would go with the same decision of opening the dam gates that caused so much devastation, deaths and losses if they again had to.” remarked Dr. Tapang.

The officials claim that people were given 4 hour lead time to evacuate, however, victims claim of not receiving any warning while those who were aware claim that their areas were flooded in 30 minutes.

“The disaster brought by San Roque Dam is just a reflection of how the interests of corporations are prioritized over the safety of the people. Surely this kind of mindset is dangerous and will bring more disaster to the people especially where similar projects of foreign corporations are located,”said Dr. Tapang.

Thousand of indigenous people were displaced during its construction and despite widespread protests in local and international level, San Roque Multi-Purpose Dam was approved in 1998. The dam’s construction was completed in March 2003 and became operational in May under President Arroyo’s term.

“President Arroyo should be held accountable for allowing San Roque Dam to operate during her term and for not listening to the demands and the protests of community. This is another example of how her administration is favoring the interests of the foreign corporations at the expense of the safety and welfare of the Filipino people and our environment,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of progressive environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.

According to Bautista, “For justice to be served to the victims of the floods in Pangasinan, the government must regain control of the San Roque Dam and work for its decommissioning. Also, plans of constructing large dam projects, such as the Laiban dam, that have proven to destroy our environment and make communities more vulnerable to disasters must be abandoned.”

“If it is indeed true that Mrs. Arroyo is bent on preventing future disasters such as those we have witnessed, she should discontinue favoring the interests of private corporations and hold them accountable for their crimes to communities and reverse her current policy of privatizing our energy resources and infrastructure such as hydro dams,” Bautista ended.

In Naga City, the Legaspi City based fisherfolk group Lakas ng mga Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol), the regional chapter of the leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday urged Malacanang to recall the P 700-million Libmanan-Cabusao Dam (LCD) project in Camarines Sur.

“We cannot allow another San Roque Dam here in Bicol and wait for the next tragedy to strike courtesy of President Arroyo, her son Dato and their foreign investor. Damned that dam please,” Lambat-Bicol chair and Pamalakaya vice-president for Luzon Salvador France said in a press statement.

France asserted that the lessons learned from San Roque Dam should compel President Arroyo to sign an executive order terminating the dam project and she can do it within less than an hour.

“Malacanang has no choice but to scrap the Camarines Sur dam project for good to prevent another super calamity and humanitarian crisis in the making. We don’t care if Rep. Dato and her monster mom get hurt along the way because they will lose their fat kickbacks,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

The dam is part of the P3-billion worth of projects for the first district of Camarines Sur announced by Ms Arroyo in September last year, during the 34th birthday of her son Dato, representative of the first district of Camarines Sur.

The Libmanan-Cabusao irrigation and dam project was touted to be the answer to irrigation in 4,000 hectares of farms.

Lambat-Bicol and Pamalakaya said the project being implemented by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) under the Bicol River Basin Water Management Project (BRWMP) will usher a new era of environmental disaster and humanitarian crisis across the region if Malacanang and Rep. Arroyo proceed with the ambitious project.

The Pamalakaya official said the P 700 million dam project is a “monster project” orchestrated by the “monster mom” and his “monster son” referring to President Arroyo and son Dato.

“We have another major catastrophe in the making, if the mother and son tandem insist their evil and cruel intentions in Camarines Sur,” France said.

The Lambat-Bicol leader with the observations raised by local folk that large portion of Lupi town would be submerged underwater if the dam pushes through.

But Tomasito Monzon, chief of the BRBWMP, allayed fears that the P700-million Libmanan-Cabusao Dam (LCD) project would cause massive flooding in Lupi and neighboring areas.

“The LCD, which is Bicol’s biggest dam, is not capable of storing a large volume of water,” Monzon said.

“It would not cause massive flooding contrary to the apprehension of residents living near it,” he said.

He said the 11.3-meter tall and 150-m wide dam is a run-off river type of diversion structure unlike the big reservoir dams of Angat in Bulacan, Pantabangan in Nueva Ecija, and Magat in Isabela.

Monzon said a run-off river dam is only capable of raising water up to the maximum crest of the dam which, in the case of LCD, is 11.3 m only.
“When water reaches this maximum level, water will spill over back to the river,” he said.

“Reservoir dams are different because they are designed to store water during rainy days and when the impounded water reaches the maximum reservoir elevation, it is released gradually,” he explained.#

Leave a comment

Filed under agriculture, Breaking News, corruption, disaster, environment

Palace told: Indefinitely suspend VFA, while talks of renegotiation is on

Palace told: Indefinitely suspend VFA, while talks of renegotiation is on

A group calling for the abrogation of the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) on Saturday urged Malacanang to immediately and indefinitely suspend the effectivity of the military agreement, while talks of its renegotiation or possible scrapping is still being finalized by senators and officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

In a press statement, the fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should immediately notify the US government of the proposed suspension of the VFA because talks are underway for its renegotiation or possible abrogation as the case may be.

Malacanang on Friday said it was supporting the position of some senators to renegotiate the VFA and has asked the Commission on the VFA to work with senators on the issue.

But Palace deputy press secretary Lorelei Fajardo appealed to senators not set aside the gains and benefits the country are getting from the military agreement, which the Senate ratified in 1999, eight years after the same constitutional body rejected the 1991 RP-US Military Bases Agreement.

“Given this latest development in the Senate and the mounting protest against the military agreement, the executive department led by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her defense and foreign affairs officials should open their hearts and minds for the immediate suspension of the VFA and the near future dissolution of the VFA in the name of national sovereignty and public interest,” Pamalakaya’s Hicap added.

To put premimum to its assertion that the VFA should be abrogated, Pamalakaya said in Bicol region where one of the joint RP-US military exercises was held this year, their members saw US troops joining their local counterparts in conducting census activities which they said were part of the surveillance operations conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the New People’s Army in the region.

“As far as we are concerned US troops are strictly prohibited from conducting census and military surveillance according to the 1987 Constitution because its violates the sovereign rights of the Filipino people and by nature, by design and by purpose the census participated by US troops is US military intervention,” the group said.

“Why they are allowed to join government census? It is not the job of American mercenaries to conduct census and surveillance unless they are really planning something big like directing and joining actual combat operations against state targets. It is not even the job of AFP regular forces to conduct census since it is the job of civilian authorities,” said Pamalakaya.

In a report sent to Pamalakaya headquarters in Quezon, it said small fishermen started seeing US personnel joining the military census activities 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.

Lambat-Bicol also noted the disturbing 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. A number of US troops were also seen in Barangay Liyang, municipality of Irosin in Sorsogon province, ahead of the scheduled RP-US joint military exercises last March.

Pamalakaya said the survey of communities was followed by the announcement of Mr. Celso del Socorro, Officer-in-charge of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Reforms (BFAR-V) about its plan to impose a region-wide fish ban in Bicol once the Balikatan exercises start in April 2009.

The fish ban according to Pamalakaya was announced, because the war games will make use of the interconnecting bodies of water in Bicol region namely the Ragay Gulf, Albay Gulf and Sorsogon Bay that join the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate for the loading and unloading of 3,000 US troops and personnel who will participate in the Balikatan exercises.

To show proof that a Balikatan-induced fish ban was implemented, a fish ban in the form of curfew in three coastal towns— Tiwi, Tabacco and Malilipot, all in Albay province were executed last Feb. affecting the fish capture activities of not less than 10,000 small fisherfolk.

The curfew ordinance in Tiwi, Tabaco and Malilipot was effectively utilized to effect a fish ban ahead and during the Balikatan exercises. The three coastal areas in Albay are being used as pilot areas for the Bicol wide fish ban in the name of the RP-US Balikatan exercises and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) last march.

Reports that reached the national secretariat office of Pamalakaya said the local government units and barangay officials in mentioned coastal towns in Albay have started implementing a 9-hour fish curfew and fish ban from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am beginning February 23 until the Balikatan exercises officially ended sometime in April. #

Leave a comment

Filed under foreign relations, US intervention

Fish ban due to Balikatan in Bicol now in effect— Pamalakaya reports

Fish ban due to Balikatan in Bicol now in effect— Pamalakaya reports

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday said a Balikatan-induced fish ban in the form of curfew in three coastal towns— Tiwi, Tabaco and Malilipot, all in Albay province are now in progress affecting the fish capture activities of not less than 10,000 small fisherfolk.

The Balikatan-engineered fish ban in aid of curfew was the subject of this morning’s protest at the Department of Agriculture (DA), where fisherfolk activists denounced the fish ban. They asked Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap to recall fish ban and add his voice to the mounting opposition against the series of RP-US joint military exercises scheduled in Masbate, Sorsogon, Albay and Camarines Sur this April.

Around 15 activists from Pamalakaya, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Amihan peasant women federation and the student group Nnara-Youth roasted a huge “tambakol” fish at the main entrance gate of agriculture department in Quezon City. Pamalakaya said “tambakol is one of the fish species, small fisherfolk used to catch in the fishing waters of the region.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap also challenged Secretary Yap to call for the scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and reject the proposal of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Reform (BFAR) Region V officer in charge Celso del Soccoro to implement a Bicol-wide fish ban once the Balikatan exercises go on full blast this April.

“The curfew ordinance in Tiwi, Tabaco and Malilipot is being effectively utilized to effect a fish ban during the Balikatan exercises. The three coastal areas in Albay are being used as pilot areas for the Bicol wide fish ban in the name of the RP-US Balikatan exercises and the VFA,” added Hicap.

According to Pamalakaya vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France, the local government units and barangay officials have started implementing 9-hour fish curfew and fish ban from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am since February 23.

“Fishermen usually go to the sea for fishing from 8:00 in the evening and they will go back home in the morning of next day. That’s the normal practice. Now because there’s an ongoing curfew that subjects all people from all age groups, the fisherfolk are effectively banned from fishing. We don’t usually fish from 5:00 in the morning to 8:00 in the evening, which is the time table now set for all fishing activities in Tiwi, Tabacco and Malilipot,” said France.

France said the implementation of curfew in three coastal towns of Albay confirmed previous report that the DA and BFAR will impose a six-month fish ban in Bicol region beginning April in connection with Balikatan exercises.

“We ask Secretary Arthur Yap to clarify this matter. The fish ban is tantamount to massacre of Bicolano fisher people rights and livelihood. This not only illegal, unconstitutional and immoral, but also super diabolical and all-out evil and puppetry. The VFA should be abrogated in order to stop the mass production of mayhem to the people,” said Pamalakaya.

The militant group said if fish ban is totally effected all over the Bicol region, it will affect the livelihood of more than 100,000 small fishermen in the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate connecting the rich the fishing grounds of Albay Gulf, Ragay Gulf and Sorsogon Bay.

The US war ships are expected to carry some 3,000 regular US troops and personnel who will participate in the six-month joint military training.

Pamalakaya told Secretary Yap the six-month RP-US joint military exercises will affect the coastal municipalities and cities of Tiwi, Malilipot, Malinaw, Bacacay, Sto. Domingo, Manito, Rapu-Rapu, Legaspi City and Tabaco 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 challenge Secretary Yap to rise above the occasion and add his voice against the Balikatan exercises in Bicol. The RP-US military exercises cannot and will never be a good substitute to the livelihood of the fisherfolk and the fish security of the people,” the group said.

“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,” Pamalakaya 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,” the group said.

Pamalakaya also said the RP-US Balikatan exercises were not only meant to gain future access to guerilla fronts maintained by the CPP and the NPA. The group 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,” the group added. #

Leave a comment

Filed under foreign relations, US intervention

Militants pooh-pooh Agriculture Secretary Yap’s 130,000 jobs target vs. crisis

Militants pooh-pooh Agriculture Secretary Yap’s 130,000 jobs target vs. crisis

The ambitious 130,000 job creation project of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to cushion the impact of current global economic and financial crisis failed to impress the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya)—-an ardent critic of the President and agriculture secretary Arthur Yap.

“This pump-priming escapade will only last for six months. After six months, what’s next? People don’t live and work for six months, they live and work for job security, decent and high paying jobs. Please allow us to tell Secretary Yap and her boss in Malacañang they are not really doing substantial and meaningful here,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Hicap clarified that while they are demanding the government to actively engage in job creation program, the quality of jobs his group is demanding is stable, long-term and productive that will allow urban and rural workers to reap the gains of their hard labor.

The Pamalakaya leader said the pump-priming projects envisioned by Malacañang and the agriculture department were not really meant to create jobs. On the contrary, the Hicap said, the projects were meant to bail out construction firms close to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other Palace officials and allow them to get the lion’s shares of the national budget allocated for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the agriculture department.

“Malacañang and Secretary Yap will move heaven and earth to pursue these corruption-ridden pump-priming projects to address Palace top concerns like bailouts for profit-starved foreign corporations, crony firms and all-time corrupt allies. They are exploiting the extreme crisis to advance their own narrow and sinister agenda,” added Hicap.

Secretary Yap last week announced that the DA will kick off with the rehabilitation and restoration of irrigation systems all over the country covering 148,040 hectares, and such undertaking is expected to employ some 131,679 jobs at least for six months or roughly 13.7 percent of the one million jobs targeted by the Macapagal-Arroyo administration this year.

Aside from rehabilitation of irrigation systems, the DA will also engage in construction of flatbed dryers, irrigation projects and agro-forestry in Cagayan Valley, production of organic fertilizers and vegetable planting programs in the Cordillera Administrative Region, livestock production and irrigation construction in Central Luzon.

The DA also planned this year the setting up of more Tindahan Natin branches in Metro Manila, irrigation projects in Bicol, swine livelihood, Bantay Dagat program in Central Visayas, construction of roads and flatbed dryers and employment of Bantay Dagat in Eastern Visayas.

The agriculture department will also promote livestock production, coconut-corn intercropping and agro-forestry in Zamboanga Peninsula, irrigation and repair and production of organic fertilizer in Northern Mindanao, agribusiness, irrigation projects and fisherfolk livelihood program in the Davao region, marine resource management in South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and General Santos, and fisherfolk livelihood programs for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

Earlier, Pamalakaya pressed the demand for a P 32- billion production subsidies for small fishermen to cushion the impact of global economic crisis. The group 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.

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 Pamalakaya leader 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,” he added.

Pamalakaya said the national government should also oblige commercial and aquaculture operators to give their fish workers the mandated minimum wage and certify as urgent the pending bill in both houses of Congress granting private workers a P 125 across the board, across the country wage increase.

Pamalakaya said the government should scrap the 12 percent expanded Value Added Tax on all petroleum products, consumer good, utilities and services to improve the purchasing power of the poor workers, farmers and fisherfolk.

“These are doable items and sound economic measures to ease the burden and cushion the impact of global economic crisis. What this government need is a strong political will. But the trouble is the will of this government is only meant for big time ticket for corruption and unstoppable subservience to transnational interest and class interest of the elite,” added Pamalakaya. #

Leave a comment

Filed under agriculture

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