Tag Archives: production subsidies

Laguna Lakers slam P 200 million building project

By Pepsi Laloma, Sarsi Pimentel and Gerry Albert Corpuz

Binangonan, Philippines-The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday expressed disbelief on why and how the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA)pursued a P 200-million contract for a new three story building for the lake agency.

“P 200 million is P 200 million. This contract is a fast break deal and a last minute money making activity courtesy of the midnight deal department of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and LLDA General Manager Edgar Manda, an Arroyo stooge,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

Hicap learned that the LLDA’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) opened the bids last week to determine which of the contractors would get the project. The Pamalakaya leader said the winning bidder will receive the contract on June 28, two days before the inaugural of President elect Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino.

“Please allow us to establish the facts. The people of Laguna Lake- the 6 million stakeholders composed of small fishermen, farmers, urban poor and ordinary people were not consulted about this P 200 million escapade of the LLDA under the Arroyo-Manda regime. The construction of P 200 million building for LLDA is never a priority and all the people want is the genuine rehabilitation of the lake and assurance of fishing livelihood for small scale fishers,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya said the people of Laguna Lake, especially the victims of super typhoon Ondoy were demanding state subsidies and assistance in the form of economic relief and rehabilitation and the immediate repair of their homes.

“They did not ask for the construction of a P 200 million building for LLDA. So where in this part of the globe did President Arroyo and Mr. Manda get their idea that all the victims of Ondoy want is a new building for LLDA. That’s baloney,” the militant group said.

Pamalakaya dared President-elect Aquino to recall the P 200-million project of the LLDA. “Mr. Aquino will face an across-the-lake project if his administration will continue to pursue to super damnable and crazy project,” the group said.

Pamalakaya said President elect Aquino should also instruct the incoming manager of the LLDA and the incoming secretary of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to stop the project and declare the contract null and void since because the P 200-million contract is illegal, highly irregular and anomalous and against the collective interest of 6 million lake folk surrounding the lake.

The militant group said they will soon write the House of Representatives and the Philippine Senate to conduct either a joint or separate congressional inquiries on the P 200-million Laguna Lake building project.

“The draft of the letter of request to have this high crime of corruption investigated is ready. We will just wait Congress to name the next of Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate President because the letter will be addressed to the top two leaders of the legislative branch,” said Pamalakaya.

Last Feb. 23, leaders of Pamalakaya and Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) submitted an Omnibus demand to LLDA Gen. Manager Manda. The set of demands include support and housing subsidies to victims of last year’s typhoon Ondoy and this year’s El Nino.

Pamalakaya and SLLM set of demands include supply of 1 rice of sack for free from March to July, P 5,000 economic and production subsidies for every fishing families and another P 5,000 for housing subsidy or house rehabilitation program per affected fishing family. #

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“There’s money for Italian planes, but no funds for fishers’ subsidy”- Group

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Kremlin Montenegro

MANILA, Philippines-The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) assailed on Monday the $ 13 million contract the Department of National Defense (DND) inked with an Italian aircraft manufacturer, while it continues to ignore the demand of El Nino stricken fisherfolk for a four-month production and economic subsidies to mitigate the impact of the prolonged drought in the country.

“Malacanang and the defense department allocated 13 million in green bucks or roughly P 598 M of taxpayers’ money for the purchase of 18 SF-260 planes from the Italy while ignoring the fact that thousands of El Nino affected fishermen are in dire need of support funds to resume production and mitigate the economic impact of extreme heat besetting the country,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The contract between the Italian manufacturer Alenia Aermacchi S.p.A was approved in 2008, but the firm started assembling SF-260 planes only late last year due to undisclosed complications. According to Teresa Parian, chief operating officer of Aerotech Industries Philippines Inc. (AIPI), the Italian manufacturer’s local partner, said the DND agreed to reconstitute the project and to obtain fresh mandate from government in late 2009.

“Can we use the training planes to fish for livelihood? Can it perform miraculous cloud seedings that would soon produce heavy rainfalls of economic subsidies and hunger mitigation measures? The people’s hard earned taxes are spent on white elephant projects like the 13 million dollar Italian training planes,” Hicap lamented.

The procurement of 18 SF-260 planes from Italy is part of the long-delayed modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). According to the executive summary of the AFP modernization plan, in order for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to have respectable air defense system, the PAF has to acquire a minimum of two squadrons of multi-role fighter aircraft. The SF-260 will cost the government $ 700,000 each P 32 million each.

“This Republic of war freak officials like President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and defense Secretary Norberto Gonzalez is engaged in avant-garde wastage of people’s money in the name of bureaucratic corruption and in the service of their militarist agenda and obsession for bloody war. This 13 million dollar plane deal is grossly inimical to national interest, people’s welfare and strong cry for social justice,” said Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya last month submitted to the Department of Agriculture (DA0 and the Laguna Lake Development their demand for a P 10,000 per month economic and production subsidy to fishing families affected by the El Nino phenomenon.

The group had 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 Pamalakaya fisherfolk alliance had 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.

The group 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,” Pamalakaya said.

Long marchers assailed landlessness and the war policy of GMA

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Traders not El Nino siphon fishers’ catch

By Bombshell Moran and Queen Shawn Dok

Manila, Philippines-Members of the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) in Talim Island in Cardona, Rizal said they still enjoy a considerable volume of Taiwan fish or popularly known as big head in Laguna Lake, but no matter how big their catch are, it has no impact to lake fishers because of the high cost of regular gasoline and fish traders buy them at rock bottom prices per kilo.

In a consultation conducted on Saturday among lake fishermen in Barangay Ticulio and Barangay Subay in Cardona, Rizal, Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz found out that despite the drought, small fishermen in Laguna lake still enjoy huge average catch of 20-40 kilos of big head, but the high cost of regular gasoline and the low price of their produce spoiled the bounty catch.

“If they catch 40 kilos of big head, the fish trader based in mainland Binangonan will just buy their catch at P 8 per kilo from the previous P 20 per kilo of big head. The gross sales would be P 320 but they have to spend at least P 250 per day for regular gasoline, so the average net profit would be P 70 per day. The P 70 day will be equally distributed to the owner of the fishing boat and the two fishermen who took part in the fish capture operation,” he said.

Corpuz rebuked there is an oversupply of big head in the market. He said the market is not really saturated with big head and that the present demand are still high compared to the volume of big head supplied to local markets in Rizal and the National Capital Region.

He said cultured and fish captured big head in Laguna Lake are not really that abundant to merit drastic drop in farm gate price. “What is happening here is price manipulation and extreme greed for profit by big fish traders,” he said.

The Pamalakaya information chief said traders sell big head bought from lake fishermen to local markets in Rizal and National Capital Region at P 50 to P 70 per kilo, and fish traders enjoy a windfall of P 42 to
P 62 per kilo of big head.

“Imagine P 70 to be divided to three equal parts? Who will survive in this kind of situation? The oil companies and the fish traders are raking profits at the expense of our hardworking fisher people in Laguna Lake and this is very, very unfair,” Corpuz added.

Pamalakaya said local municipal governments and local agricultural councils should jointly pass and release an ordinance that would increase the price of big head from the current P 8 per kilo to P 20 per kilo on the average to allow lake fisherfolk to earn considerable or decent income for their families.

The group suggested that the government provide oil and production subsidy to small fishermen operating motorized fishing boats and economic subsidy to marginal fishermen operating non-motorized boats in Laguna Lake. Pamalakaya proposed P 4,500 for fishermen operating motorized boats, and P 2,500 for economic subsidy of small fishers operating non-motorized boats.

Pamalakaya said 80 percent of the oil and production subsidy will go oil and other operational expenses, while the remaining 20 percent will go the urgent economic needs of small fishermen and their families.

Pamalakaya said the expenses for regular gasoline and other petroleum products eat up 80 percent of the total production cost per fishing trip.

For red tide infested and fish kill affected areas, Pamalakaya proposed an allocation of P 10,000 economic and production subsidy per month per poor fishing family.

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. #

Laguna fishers dumped water lilies to protest state inaction on drought affected fishermen

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Fishers to pit own SONA vs. GMA SONA

Fishers to pit own SONA vs. GMA SONA

The chairperson of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday announced it would have its own State of the Nation Address (SONA) ahead of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s SONA on July 27.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the fisherfolk alternative SONA to be held in UP Diliman on July 20 would be billed as “Like Fishes Over Troubled Waters”, which will be co-sponsored by Anakpawis party list.

He said fisherfolk resource persons would discuss disturbing trends in local fisheries like the across-the-country sell out of coastal communities to foreign investors, and left and right lease of public lands and foreshore land areas to big corporations abroad.

Hicap announced the schedule of its own SONA a day after Presidential Chief of Staff and former AFP Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon Jr. revealed that the President’s SONA on July 27 would deal largely on the infrastructure accomplishments of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration since last year.

Esperon, who is tasked to monitor the implementation of government infrastructure projects, last week, said that 38 infrastructure projects are already completed and 37 more projects are set to be finished by the end of the year. He said the funding for these projects are complete or are in place.

“It is going to be a battle of SONAs. But our SONA is based on truth and vast experience of ordinary, yet struggling coastal people in fishing communities. We will flood and deluge President Arroyo with fishery facts and figures that will further expose her crimes against the fisherfolk and the Filipino public in general,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said problems concerning the massive privatization and conversion of coastal communities will be highlighted by stories of reclamation in Laguna Lake, Manila Bay, Cordova reclamation and South Reclamation Project in Cebu province. Hicap said the phenomenon of offshore mining in Cebu, Bohol, Antique, Palawan and Ragay Gulf will also be tackled during the fisherfolk SONA.

Hicap said the forum aptly billed “Like Fishes Over Troubled Waters” will also discuss the implications of bilateral agreements the Arroyo government entered with foreign states like the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa), the RP-EU Partnership and Cooperation Pact, the forthcoming RP-US Free Trade Agreement, the RP-China Agreement and other economic deals the government recently clinched with Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Brazil.

Hicap said these agreements are closely linked or attributed to the moves of Malacañang and allies in the House of Representatives that seek to convene Congress into a Constituent Assembly to revise the 1987 Constitution and lift the ban on 100 foreign ownership of land, aside from allowing President Arroyo to extend her stay in power.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap said around 200 fisherfolk leaders from the provinces of Cavite, Rizal, Laguna, Batangas and Quezon, all in Southern Tagalog Region, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan and Zambales in Central Luzon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes all in Bicol region and Cebu, Bohol and Negros Occidental.

For his part, Pamalakaya vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France said, the alternative SONA will also launch the group’s campaign for the P 32-billion oil and production subsidy to small fisherfolk.

France said the fighting demand of the small fisherfolk for monthly production subsidy to arrest the uncontrollable hikes in the prices of petroleum products and the global economic and financial crisis is long overdue.

He recalled that the demand for production subsidy was submitted to the office Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap on July 2008. France said the demand which was written in two-page letter had been in the office of agriculture secretary, but Secretary Yap is not doing his homework.

The main purpose of the P 32-billion production subsidy is to keep the wheel of production in the fisheries sector in the Philippines moving, because it is currently battered by high prices of oil products and skyrocketing prices of fishing gears and equipments.

Under the annual P 32-billion production subsidy for the fisheries sector proposed by Pamalakaya, all fishermen who own a small motorized banca will receive a minimum P 4,500 monthly oil subsidy, while those who operate non-motorized banca will receive P 2,000 monthly production subsidy.

According to Pamalakaya, the P 4,500 monthly subsidy constitutes about 50 percent of the monthly expenses spent by fishermen owning a small fishing boat in their daily fish capture. It 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.

Pamalakaya’s proposal for production subsidy for 630,000 non-motorized fishing boats operators across the country will cost the national government some of P1.3 billion per month 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.

It said 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. #

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Militants pressed Congress to probe

Militants pressed Congress to probe
Big 3’s P 138 million daily overpricing

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday urged senators and congressmen to conduct a full-blown inquiry on the alleged day-to-day overpricing activities of big three oil companies in the country, namely Petron Corporation, Pilipinas Shell and Chevron Philippines, which the group said were robbing Filipino consumers some P 138.14 million everyday.

“The Big Three is raking some P 167 million in additional profits everyday due to overpricing and other forms of cartel operations. Congress must do something do to stop this extreme greed and it must do its assignment now, not tomorrow, not next week and definitely not next month,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

Quoting the study made by the leftwing umbrella alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Hicap said Petron Corporation accounted for P 64.63 million in total windfall from overpricing of petroleum products daily, followed by Pilipinas Shell with P 49.94 million and Chevron Philippines with a daily take of P 23.55 million in total profits from overpricing per day.

The Pamalakaya leader said Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, chair of the House Committee on Energy is not doing his job as head of the committee, adding that until now, no investigation has been made on the alleged overpricing and other manipulative practices of the oil cartel.

“Rep. Arroyo is the chair of House Committee on Energy, but he is nothing but a white elephant in Congress. The deafening silence of Congress on the money making scheme of the Big Three makes it a partner in crime of the oil cartel that includes Malacañang and key officials of the Department of Energy,” added Hicap.

Based on the studies made by Bayan, as of mid June this year, oil products are overpriced by an average of P 4.31 per liter. The group’s overpricing estimates differ from that of NEDA Secretary Ralph Recto because of the methodology used. While Recto said gasoline prices are overpriced by P 8 per liter, Bayan’s computation were arrived by computing the weighted average retail price of all petroleum products including gasoline, kerosene, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

“If that is the case, then prices of diesel should be sold at P 25 per liter and regular gasoline by
P 36 per liter. But because it is overpriced by P 4.30 liter, prices remained at P 29 and P 40 per liter respectively,” Pamalakaya said.

The increases in the prices of petroleum products prompted Pamalakaya to call Congress to legislate a fisherfolk production subsidy bill that will compel the national government to set aside P 32-B in production subsidies to small fishermen across the country to caution the impact of successive oil price increases and the current global economic and financial crisis.

“This fighting demand of the small fisherfolk for monthly production subsidy to arrest the uncontrollable hikes in the prices of petroleum products and the global economic and financial crisis is long overdue. But this government is not taking our legitimate call seriously,” Pamalakaya vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France said in a press statement.

France recalled that the demand for production subsidy was submitted to the office Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap on July 2008. “It’s been in the office of agriculture secretary, but Secretary Yap is not doing his assignment. The small fisherfolk are been kept in the dark with regards to their legitimate crusade for production subsidy,” he said.

The Pamalakaya leader said the main purpose of the P 32-billion production subsidy is to keep the wheel of production in the fisheries sector moving, because it is currently battered by high prices of oil products and skyrocketing prices of fishing gears and equipments.

Under the annual P 32-billion production subsidy for the fisheries sector proposed by Pamalakaya, all fishermen who own a small motorized banca will receive a minimum P 4,500 monthly oil subsidy, while those who operate non-motorized banca will receive P 2,000 monthly production subsidy.

According to France, the P 4,500 monthly subsidy constitutes about 50 percent of the monthly expenses spent by fishermen owning a small fishing boat in their daily fish capture. The Pamalakaya leader 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.

Pamalakaya’s proposal for production subsidy for 630,000 non-motorized fishing boats operators across the country will cost the national government some of P1.3 billion per month 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 said. #

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Pamalakaya urges gov’t to set aside P 32-B production subsidy to combat oil price hikes

Pamalakaya urges gov’t to set aside P 32-B production subsidy to combat oil price hikes

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday urged the national government to set aside P 32-B worth of production subsidies to small fishermen across the country to caution the impact of successive oil price increases and the current global economic and financial crisis.

The militant group pressed the call after oil companies led by Chevron, Shell and Petron raised anew prices of petroleum products by an average of P 1 raising the prices of diesel to P 30 per liter and regular gasoline to P 40 per liter. According to Pamalakaya, small fisherfolk employing small fishing boats used regular gasoline and consumed at least 10 liters per fishing activity.

“This fighting demand of the small fisherfolk for monthly production subsidy to arrest the uncontrollable hikes in the prices of petroleum products and the global economic and financial crisis is long overdue. But this government is not taking our legitimate call seriously,” Pamalakaya vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France said in a press statement.

France recalled that the demand for production subsidy was submitted to the office Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap on July 2008. “It’s been in the office of agriculture secretary, but Secretary Yap is not doing his assignment. The small fisherfolk are been kept in the dark with regards to their legitimate crusade for production subsidy,” he said.

The Pamalakaya leader said the main purpose of the P 32-billion production subsidy is to keep the wheel of production in the fisheries sector moving, because it is currently battered by high prices of oil products and skyrocketing prices of fishing gears and equipments.

Under the annual P 32-billion production subsidy for the fisheries sector proposed by Pamalakaya, all fishermen who own a small motorized banca will receive a minimum P 4,500 monthly oil subsidy, while those who operate non-motorized banca will receive P 2,000 monthly production subsidy.

According to Hicap, the P 4,500 monthly subsidy constitutes about 50 percent of the monthly expenses spent by fishermen owning a small fishing boat in their daily fish capture. The Pamalakaya leader 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.

Pamalakaya’s proposal for production subsidy for 630,000 non-motorized fishing boats operators across the country will cost the national government some of P1.3 billion per month 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 said.

Pamalakaya also said the national government should also oblige commercial and aquaculture operators to give their fish workers the mandated minimum wage and the President should 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.

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

“These are doable items and sound economic measures to ease the burden and cushion the impact of global economic and financial crisis. But this government is not listening to the concrete and legitimate demands of the people, the group asserted. #

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Fisherfolk activists to Secretary Yap: “What fish shortage?”

Pamalakaya slammed P 25-million bailout to big fishpen operators
Fisherfolk activists to Secretary Yap: “What fish shortage?”

The national chairperson of the left-wing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday questioned the statement of agriculture secretary Arthur Yap that folks of Metro Manila will face fish shortage unless the government do something to avert it.

“What fish shortage this senatorial wannabe is talking about? He is justifying the release of P 25-million in taxpayers money to be able to bailout Northern Luzon based big fishpen operators,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

Yap over the weekend said the P 25-million support fund for the rehabilitation of wrecked fish cages in Pangasinan and La Union should be released soon because any delay in rehabilitating the fish cages could affect fish supply and fish prices in Metro Manila.

“That’s mind boggling and absurd. There’s enough supply of fish in the National Capital Region despite typhoon Emong which recently hit the country. He is just buying the political patronage of large-scale fishpen operators in the North. This Northern offensive is part of image building in connection with Yap’s plan to join the senatorial race in 2010,” said Hicap.

The agriculture department said fishpen operators in Pangasinan and La Union incurred losses estimated at around P 500 million or 6,000 metric tons which represent 3.7 percent of the regional annual production budget of fish stocks for 2009. It said Pangasinan and La Union accounts for 120 metric tons of bangus supply to Metro Manila.

“Secretary Yap is only after the welfare of big fishpen operators. For him the small fishermen are nothing and they don’t deserve the attention of this elitist agriculture official. Let us see where he will see himself in the 2010 national elections,” the Pamalakaya leader warned.

Last week, Pamalakaya pressed the Macapagal-Arroyo government to set aside at least P 20-billion for the victims of typhoon “Emong” and for the quick rehabilitation of agricultural lands, infrastructures and power lines destroyed at the height of the strong typhoon that hit the country, mostly several provinces in Central and Northern Luzon.

Pamalakaya vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France said they proposed a minimum of P 10,000 and a maximum of P 20,000 production subsidy per fishing and farming family in areas hardly affected by typhoon Emong namely Pangasinan, La Union, Nueva Viscaya, Bataan, Zambales, Ifugao, Isabela, Cagayan, and Benguet.

“This will help farmers and fisherfolk to resume the wheel of agricultural and fishery production made idle by typhoon Emong. The granting of subsidy could last for one to two months or even several months depending on the time and resources needed to accomplish the relief and rehabilitation process. And to the national and local government units and agencies—please don’t use the occasion for corruption and all-out pocketing of taxpayers money,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

Under Pamalakaya’s proposal the small fisherfolk in the province of Pangasinan will get at least P 4 billion from the P 20-billion relief and rehabilitation fund, while La Union, Nueva Viscaya, Bataan, Zambales, Ifugao, Isabela, Cagayan and Benguet will get P 2 billion each.

France suggested that the funds for victims of typhoon Emong should be closely monitored by anti-corruption watchdogs and independent groups including the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to make sure all government units will implement the relief and rehabilitation undertakings without any shade of corruption and politicking.

The Pamalakaya leader said their members in Bataan, Zambales, Pangasinan and La Union were affected by typhoon Emong and will undertake campaign that will require the regional offices and provincial of the Department of Agriculture, including provincial and municipal governments to provide quick production subsidy assistance for victims of typhoon Emong.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) reported last week the death toll from typhoon Emong rose to 33 after seven more fatalities were reported in the provinces of Pangasinan and Ifugao.

The NDCC also said Emong destroyed close to P 380 million worth of crops, infrastructure and power lines, P 371 million of this represent destroyed crops and agricultural fields. But in Pangasinan, Anda Mayor Nestor Pulido said in his town, fishery losses could reach P 1 billion accounting for hundreds of fishpens and fish cages swept away at the height of typhoon Emong. #

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