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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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Government pressed to allot P 5,000 econ relief to victims of typhoon “Maring”

Government pressed to allot P 5,000 econ relief to victims of typhoon “Maring”

The fisherfolk activist federation Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday urged the national government to set aside an economic relief package amounting to P 375 million to victims of typhoon “Maring” in Central Luzon or P 5,000 per family for the 70,000 families displaced by the typhoon in 5 provinces in Central Luzon.

As of yesterday, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said Maring affected 69,509 families or 357,057 people in 305 villages in 27 towns and one city in Zambales, Bataan, Tarlac, Pampanga and Bulacan provinces.

The NDCC said floods affected at least 28 villages in Botolan, San Felipe and San Marcelino towns and Olongapo City in Zambales; 125 villages in Apalit, Guagua, Sasmuan, Floridablanca, Masantol, Lubao, Bacolor, Mexico and Arayat in Pampanga; 45 villages in Balagtas, Calumpit, Guiguinto, Marilao, Meycauayan and San Miguel in Bulacan; and 90 villages in Pilar, Morong, Hermosa, Dinalupihan, Abucay, Samal and Bagac in Bataan.

The NDCC said Maring caused P20.999 million in damages to agriculture in Pampanga, Zambales, Bataan and Tarlac. It added that rains and floods damaged bridges and roads in San Antonio and San Marcelino in Zambales; and Bacolor and Floridablanca in Pampanga.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said these villages affected by storm “Maring” are mostly farming and fishing communities, and placed the affected farmers and fisherfolk to about 52,000 families or 260,000 individuals.

“The government should address the immediate needs of the affected people, and go beyond the usual charity work and seasonal delivery of relief goods. The allocations of taxpayers’ money should go on this direction that would provide working rural people with quick economic relief and coupled with production subsidies to keep the wheel of production in the rural areas,” said Hicap.

Hicap added: “Let me remind President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that the victims of typhoon Maring are not begging alms, and she should not compel them to chase PNP trucks loaded with relief goods along the flooded waters of Central Luzon for a kilo of rice and three cans of sardines like what she did last Friday in Guaga, Pampanga.”

The Pamalakaya leader said an oversight committee or a monitoring task force composed anti-corruption watchdogs, respectable non-government organizations and people’s associations, including church people should be formed to oversee, if not monitor the implementation of the program to prevent corrupt practices and grandstanding of Malacanang and pro-Arroyo politicians.

“These public funds should benefit the public and not the ring leaders and rabid followers of the ruling gangland in Malacanang. This is one way of ensuring that these funds go the proper beneficiaries in the name of genuine service of the Filipino people,” Hicap said.

Aside from the P 5,000 economic relief package, Hicap said the government should also set aside enough funds for the rehabilitation of Central Luzon agriculture and fisheries devastated by typhoon Maring since last week.

The Pamalakaya leader aside from repair of roads and highways and other public infrastructures, rehabilitation efforts should include grants to farmers and small fisherfolk who production tools were destroyed of washed by the flashfloods that hit Zambales, Bataan, Pampanga and Bulacan. Hicap said, the grant will allow farmers and fishermen to procure farm tools and fishing gears, so they could attend to their work and resume production. #

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Pamalakaya demands P 32-billion production subsidy

Pamalakaya demands P 32-billion production subsidy

Manila, Philippines- Members of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance (Pamalakaya) and Anakpawis party list on Monday fried two kilos of assorted fish at the Department of Agriculture (DA) as a symbolic gesture of presenting their demand for P 32-billion yearly production subsidy to caution the impact of 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 was submitted to the office Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap on July 2008. But nobody in this government wants to listen and our position paper was reduced into a scratch paper,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

Pamalakaya 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.

For her part, Anakpawis party list secretary general Cherry Clemente 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.

Clemente 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 Anakpawis official added.

Clemente also 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.

To improve the purchasing power of the Filipino fishermen, the workers and the poor, both groups 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,” Anakpawis asserted.

Pamalakaya likewise dismissed the 700 jobs being offered by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Eastern Visayas to displaced fishermen as “pittance and highly trivial”.

“The small fisherfolk in Eastern Visayas are not begging for alms nor asking for some kind of charitable escapade from the national and local governments. They are asking for decent, sustaining and life-supporting production activities not pittance and super roadshow charity work from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, “ lamented Pamalakaya.

The fisherfolk group was referring to the P 4-million livelihood and emergency employment assistance fund released by DOLE-Region 8, which Forter Pugon, regional director of the employment department said would benefit about 700 marginal fishermen and displaced workers in the region.

Of the P 4-million, P 1.468 million was alloted by the DOLE Region 8 to employment generation projects billed as Integrated Services for Livelihood of the Fisherfolk (ISLA) and the Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD), which are currently being implemented in Lapinig town in Northern Samar.

Under the ISLA project of the labor department, the beneficiaries would undertake a small-scale fishing project in Lapinig town, using fish cage and other fishing methods. The project for small fisherfolk will also include enhancement trainings to prepare fisherfolk for another employment once the project is completed by concerned local government units. #

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