Tag Archives: United Nations

Int’l lawyers urged Aquino to prosecute Arroyo

By Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- The Netherlands based human rights group International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) asked leading presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to immediately prepare the grand prosecution of outgoing Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on charges of grave human rights violations which the group said was tantamount to crimes against humanity.

In a press statement sent to this author, the IAPL-a worldwide association of public interest and human rights lawyers, asserted the incoming Philippine administration should “immediately and vigorously pursue” all legal moves to make Mrs. Arroyo and her allies accountable for the crimes of plunder, human rights violations like killings, disappearances, torture, other crimes against humanity and other high offenses against the Filipino people.

Manila based human rights lawyer Atty. Edre Olalia who was in Utrecht, the Netherlands for the two-day IAPL 4th Congress revealed that the lawyers group also passed a resolution calling for the immediate and unconditional release of 43 health workers arrested by members of the Arroyo controlled military sometime early February this year.

Olalia who was re-elected as president of IAPL also told http://www.allvoices.com that another resolution was passed calling for the immediate prosecution of the Ampatuans and the Arroyo government for their active roles in the massacre of 57 people, mostly journalists in Maguindanao last year.

The IAPL congress was attended by some 35 lawyers, judges, paralegals and law students from Afghanistan, Brazil, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and Turkey.

“As an organization of people’s lawyers, we will make it certain that the outgoing Arroyo government will not escape prosecutions and being accountable for crimes committed against the people,” said Atty. Olalia.

“This is also a litmus test for Noynoy Aquino. His attitude and policy towards human rights will be judged at the first instance on how he will pursue the prosecution and conviction of Mrs. Arroyo, her family members and allies who committed crimes against the people,” Olalia, who is also acting Secretary General of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), added.

Previously, the IAPL has already denounced the Arroyo government over its human rights record that is marred by the killings of activists, lawyers, judges and journalists.

Carlos Zarate, vice president for Mindanao of the NUPL, said the “culture of impunity” being promoted by the Arroyo government is the culprit behind the Ampatuan massacre that brutally claimed the lives of 57 civilians, including two lady members of the NUPL.

“The prosecution for such monstrous act should not be limited only to the members of the Ampatuan clan and their private army… it should also include police and military officials and other civilian authorities who are equally liable.”

Prior to the IAPL assembly, human rights activists belonging to Karapatan attended the 14th session of the United Nations human rights council in Geneva, Switzerland. The Filipino contingent led by veteran Martial law activist and human rights defender Marie Hilao-Enriquez issued another statement informing the human rights community in Manila that the case of 43 health workers arrested in Morong last February was already brought up to the UN commission on human rights.

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Pamalakaya assails Red exporting tag

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Krelin Montenegro

MANILA, Philippines-The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), a member of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) assailed on Saturday the Philippine government’s claim that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was sending communist cadres in place like India and Thailand under the banner of the league.

“This is too much. This brazen and bizarre state terrorism campaign of Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzalez and NICA director general Pedro Cabuay should be condemned to the highest level. We demand the two terrorist officials of the Manila government to retract their statements, issue public apologies here and abroad and refrain from making further outrageous claims based on and mobilized by the doctrines of national security and global terrorism,” said Pamalakaya national chair and ILPS fisherfolk representative Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader said ILPS is an international assembly of 350 progressive and democratic organizations from 50 countries fighting for the collective rights and interest of the working peoples of the world.

“It is the Philippine government who is exporting its state terrorism campaign against Filipino progressives abroad by spreading these malicious claims and false allegations in the name of US led terrorism all over the world and in the name of national security doctrine in the name of modern day global slavery and oppression,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya said it had participated in various international conferences and gatherings under the banner of ILPS not to export cadres and train local insurgents but to promote international solidarity through sharing of Filipino fisherfolk issues and struggles in the Philippines and support their peers’ struggles in other parts of the world through campaigns, mobilizations and other form of advocacy.

The militant group said it had been to India twice for international gatherings opposed to World Trade Organization and free trade liberalization in 2005 and 2008, and had been to Thailand in 2002 once and thrice in 2009 not to export communist rebels but to discuss the impact of trade liberalization on fisheries, share experiences on disaster preparedness and express sectoral views on the ASEAN Human Rights charter.

Pamalakaya said it is planning to file appropriate criminal and administrative charges against Secretary Gonzalez and Cabuay and that they will soon consult their lawyers about what charges shall be filed against the two security officials.

For a start, the group said it will ask the 350-member organizations of the ILPS in 50 countries to declare the two Philippine defense officials persona-non-grata in their respective countries and issue statements denouncing the Manila government’s claim against the ILPS to high heaven.

In 2008, Pamalakaya attended the 3rd General Assembly of the ILPS in Hong Kong. During the assembly, Pamalakaya sponsored a resolution urging the Philippine government to stop all offshore mining activities in the country.

The resolution was signed by 350 member organizations of the ILPS that include social activists and respected leaders of people’s movements in the United States, Canada, Italy, Turkey, Belgium, United Kingdom, Germany, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Iran and Brazil to mention a few.

Last year, Pamalakaya attended a fisherfolk conference in Bangkok, Thailand which was sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN).

During the conference, Pamalakaya and ILPS-Philippine chapter of the league conducted a petition signing that urged FAO officials to investigate the left-and right destruction of food and fish baskets in the Philippines by the Macapagal-Arroyo government through privatization and anarchic conversion of agricultural lands and fishing areas by foreign monopolies and their domestic partners in the country. The petition was supported by food security groups in the US, North and South America, Italy, France and countries from Central, South and East Asia. #


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Pinoy activists outraged at outcome of Copenhagen climate talks

By the Center for Environmental Concerns, contributor, in Copenhagen, Denmark and Gerry Albert Corpuz, senior reporter, The Pamalakaya Times, in Manila

Copenhagen, Denmark- Climate activists from the Philippines expressed outraged at the Copenhagen Accord signed by 26 heads of states at the summit of the United Nations Conference of Parties 15 (COP15). The group was even more disappointed at the Philippine delegation, headed by President Gloria Arroyo, for being one of the first to sign the undemocratic document and once again selling out the interests and welfare of the Filipino people.

“The Copenhagen Accord, which does not commit the developed countries and biggest polluters to specific emission cuts targes at a specific deadline puts humanity nearer to the brink of world catastrophy. How the accord came to be is a case in point of how rich countries like the US preserve its interests at the expense of the welfare of the world’s population by imposing its power to prevent the creation of a fair, effective and legally binding deal,” said Clemente Bautista of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

KALIKASAN-PNE was among the hundreds of civil society organizations that flew to Copenhagen to participate in the talks by forwarding the positions and calls of the country’s most vulnerable and marginalized sectors. While the group did not have high expectations that a binding and substantial agreement will be signed at the UN summit, they were revolted how the talks turned out.

The Copenhagen Accord was brokered by the United States during a closed door meeting last Friday night with the BASIC countries: Brazil, South Africa, India and China, which the other countries left out of the meetings. The process was undemocratic, secretive and in gross violation of the UN charter and the rights of other nations to take part in an agreement where the fate of the world depends on.

The Accord also set the to limit the increase in global temperature to 2°C instead of the 1.5°C needed by countries such as Bangladesh and Tuvalu to stay above sea level. To achieve that, the accord aims to cut global carbon emission by only 50% of 1990 levels by 2050, with no specific target and legally binding commitment from rich countries to reduce their emission.

Aside from the emissions cuts, the accord supposedly commits the developed countries to raise climate funds for vulnerable nations.

Unfair accord

“While we have observed in the past 2 weeks that the climate talks is not a negotiation between equal parties, we have also observed how the Philippine delegation expressed enthusiasm for the unfair accord and contented itself with a few billion pesos of climate aid, ” said Marjorie Pamintuan of Agham Youth.

Ms. Pamintuan also participated in the COP15 with 350.org, an international movement campaigning for the lowering the carbon in the atmosphere to 350ppm.

Referring to an interview of expert negotiator Ms. Bernarditas Castro-Muller, Ms. Pamintuan explained that, “The $30 billion that is to be provided by rich countries for vulnerable nations between 2010 and 2012, and the $100 billion dollars ‘from a wide variety of sources’ to be available after 2020 could hardly be considered any help at all since ‘these will be in the form of loans’ which will bury the Filipinos into much deeper national debt.”

Ms. Pamintuan further pointed out that, “additional national debts means larger budget cuts for services like education and health since a large portion of the national budget is appropriated for debt servicing. With a destroyed environment, unhealthy bodies and without education, what kind of future does the Filipino youth have?”

“Instead of being used to increase the resiliency and adaptive of the country, the $380 million pledge of clean technology and forestry investment funds from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank that Mrs. Arroyo is so proud of will be allocated to hoax technological solutions like clean coal, market based mechanisms and will also facilitate the exploit of our energy and forest resources by foreign corporations,” explained Ms. Meggie Nolasco of Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA).

According to the PCWA statement , “If the government is indeed serious in addressing climate, instead of promoting technological fixes and false climate solutions it should prioritize people’s needs by immediately scrapping destructive environmental policies like the Mining Act of 1995 and stopping the building of new coal-fired power plants and coal mining projects.”

“While there is already a global consensus that any further delays in coming up with effective solutions will jeopardize the whole planet especially vulnerable nations such as the Philippines, Mrs. Arroyo and her delegation even commended the unfair and unsubstantial deal,” said Ms. Nolasco.

Ms Nolasco added that, “What Mrs. Arroyo and her delegation should have done was act in the interest of the Filipino people by standing firmly with the other nations in demanding that developed countries, especially the US, to commit to an effective, fair and legally binding climate deal.”

“However, we must not be disheartened in our struggle. We must sustain our collective actions even as we go back to our countries and press for true climate change solutions and lasting social justice,” ended Ms. Nolasco.

Not all about aid

In Manila, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday chided President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for praising her efforts to secure $ 380-million in financial aid to help the Philippines cope with the impact of climate change.

“Is that how President Arroyo measure the meaning of success? Where is climate justice in the $ 380-million pledges to fight global warming? We don’t call it aid, we call it bribery from top global polluters and environmental destroyers,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

Hicap said his group was dismayed on President Arroyo over her silence and non-committal and no-combative stance on the collective position of the G-77 for the United States and other major economies of the world to drastically cut their carbon emissions to cushion if not eliminate the phenomenon of global warming across-the-world.

“President Arroyo attended the Copenhagen summit on climate change not to attack the global warmers and present the global people’s agenda for climate justice, but to perform her duty as an apologist for the US and other rich nations,” the Pamalakaya official said.

In her arrival statement, President Arroyo described the Philippines’ efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change as a “life and death’ issue. She said her government is at the frontline of the changing global climate, as she mentioned the past storms that had ravaged the country, the Filipino people and their way of life.

The President said the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank committed up to $ 250 million from their clean technology fund in recognition of the Philippines leadership role in tackling climate changes in Asia. Mrs. Arroyo also took home $ 70 million for forestry investment fund and another 50 million US dollars from the global environmental fund. The Danish government promised another 10 million US dollars in support to the Philippines local water utilities.

Money, money,money

“Mrs. Arroyo works hard for the money for herself and not for climate justice and not for the people affected by US-led inflicted climate change. That’s the President’s vision in life—money, money, enough money for her eternal greed, nothing more, nothing less,” said Hicap.
While President Arroyo was rebuked by Pamalakaya, the militant group commended a group of Filipino activists who made their presence felt during the Conference of Parties (COP) in Copenhagen.

The group praised Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the environmental group Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment and the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS), Ms Tess Vistro of Amihan peasant women federation, Paul Quintos of Ibon Foundation and Ces Quimpo of Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC) for bringing the Filipino people’s collective position on climate justice and the need to punish top global polluters like the United States and its transnational corporations for bringing global environmental disasters to 77 most poorest countries in the world.

“The Filipino people were not in default in the Copenhagen battle. Their voice was added to the worldwide demands for rich nations to stop exploiting and destroying the people and the resources and to ensure global climate justice against the super profiteering activities of US and other capitalist exploiting nations across America, Europe and Asia and the Pacific,” said Pamalakaya.

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Protesters rally at the US embassy to demand for accountability and real climate solutions on first day of climate talks

contributed to The Pamalakaya Times

Manila, Philippines-On the first day of the international climate talks, militant and environmental groups marched towards the US embassy to hold accountable the world’s biggest polluters, headed by the United States and demand adequate financial and appropriate technological adaptation support for climate change vulnerable countries and communities.

From December 7-18, high level officials and representatives from all over the world will gather in Copenhagen, Denmark for the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) where a binding climate deal should be sealed. However the leaders of developed countries headed by US President Obama have announced that it is unrealistic to expect a climate deal in Copenhagen given the short amount of time.

“This foot dragging and sabotage by the US and other responsible countries should be condemned. Such inaction and the false solutions they continue to peddle equates to greater devastation and suffering from the effects of climate change by peasants, workers, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, women, children, urban poor, and other vulnerable and marginalized sectors ,” said Giovanni Tapang, chairperson of the Advocates for Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM).

According to Frances Quimpo, coordinator of the international climate formation, People’s Action on Climate Change (PACC), “it is a great injustice that it is the poor who are suffering the most while it is the industrialized countries that account for 80% of the historical greenhouse gases emission with US primarily responsible for 30% of the global carbon emissions.”

“This inequality has long been recognized by the international community, yet 17 years of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and eight years of the Kyoto Protocol’s existence have failed and done little to abate the steeply-rising global greenhouse gas emissions and ease the lives of the poor, she said. The PACC was the climate group which staged daily mass actions at the Bangkok Climate Talks last October 2009.

“The UN climate negotiations have exposed the callous greed of the industrialized countries and the persistence of corporate and financial enterprise interests that dominate, command and dictate the discussions agenda according to their interests. For one, they are pushing for market-based mechanisms and technological fixes instead of real and structural solutions that strike at the root causes of climate change,” said Dr. Tapang.

Based on the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to enable to avert catastrophic effect of global warming, industrialized countries need to reduce GHG emissions by more than 25-40% based on 1990 level by not later than 2020. The Kyoto Protocol calls for a mere 5% cut in GHG emissions below 1990 level yet the US have not ratified it until now. What President Obama announced is a 17% cut of US greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2020, about 3 percent below the 1990 and far below the cut outlined by the UN climate panel.

According to the statement of Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA), while it is the industrialized countries that are primarily responsible for the rapid destruction of environment and the accelerated GHG emissions, the governments of developing countries who impede the genuine development of the world’s poor and marginalized communities and sectors by facilitating the plunder of the countries’ resources must also be held responsible.

“The Arroyo administration keeps on promoting and pursuing neo-liberal policies in strategic sectors, such as energy, mining, forestry, agriculture, and trade, which favors and benefits the foreign corperations but worsens the vulnerability of local communities. In addition, the Philippine government lacks genuine policies and programs to mitigate climate change and help communities adapt to its impacts,” said Meggie Nolasco, spokesperson of PCWA.

“To top it all, the Arroyo government is sending off a team of government junketeers whose purpose is to beg for crumbs from Annex 1 government in exchange for a weakened position in the climate negotiations,” said Nolasco. The Philippine president on the eve of Hillary Clinton’s visit, released a statement that it is not insisting on deep and early cuts in the Copenhagen negotiations, when the Philippines, along with other developing and vulnerable countries have been reeling from climate change impacts due to the havoc wrought by Annex 1 countries.

The protesters headed by PCWA, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, AGHAM and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) with other multi-sectoral organizations are calling on the international community to push for a just and equitable treaty and concrete actions that recognizes that the climate crisis is rooted and is continuously worsened by the unsustainable, wasteful and profit-oriented production of the world’s richest economies.

“We are not optimistic that an international agreement will be arrived at in Copenhagen as long as the powerful nations, big corporation and corrupt government officials, whose sole purpose is to water down or shoot down any important climate measures and continue with business-as-usual practices remain inside the negotiations,” said Meggie Nolasco, spokesperson of Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA).

She further averred, “ Together with marginalized communities and civil society organizations from all over the world, we are taking our postions and demands to the streets in fighting this oppressive system and the false solutions that are perpetruated by the climate offenders. “

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UN told: Don’t channel relief aid to Malacanang

UN told: Don’t channel relief aid to Malacanang
By Billy Javier Reyes and Bb. Joyce Cabral

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday appealed the United Nations (UN)to channel funds for Ondoy victims to the respected and highly trusted people’s organizations and non-government organizations in the Philippines and not to the Macapagal-Arroyo government, asserting that global people’s hard earned money in the form of financial aid and economic relief will be put into extreme danger if it is placed in the hands of the present government.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap was referring to the $75-million flash drive to victims of tropical storm Ondoy.

“In the name of truth, justice and accountability, please do not put or expose the world people’s money in extreme danger by giving these funds for Ondoy victims to the corrupt government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Everybody knows the checkered history and oustanding record of the present Palace occupant when it come to corruption. Please hear our appeal,” said Hicap.

In asserting his call to UN, Hicap cited a report alleging that Malacanang impounded P 140 billion fund that could have been instead utilized to increase the dwindling calamity fund rather than wait for the P 10-billion supplemental budget currently pending at Congress.

Hicap said the P140-billion in available funds whhere impounded through transfers from budget of various government agencies last year. The Pamalakaya leader also cited the P 800 million emergency relief fund which was used to finance the foreign trips of President Arroyo.

“These records of corruption and financial chaos of the Arroyo government are strong prima facie evidence enough to convince UN that all funds from foreign donors should not go Malacanang, and instead to genuine and highly trusted groups working for the interest and welfare of the people, he added.

The Pamalakaya official agreed to the proposal of Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano that all donations should be channeled to genuine people’s organizations and institutions, who will ensure that all these funds and other relief support will go directly to the victims of typhoon Ondoy.

The United Nations has launched a “flash appeal” for $75 million in international aid to help the victims of tropical storm “Ondoy” (international name: Ketsana).

“The Flash Appeal seeks to generate funds in key sectors including food, shelter, water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency telecommunications and logistics, child protection, coordination and camp management,” UNICEF executive Director Ann Veneman said during its launch Wednesday.

The money will be used to fund agricultural and early recovery programs.
Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Jr., Agriculture secretary Arthur Yap and Social Welfare and Development Secretary Esperanza Cabral attended the launch as representatives of the Philippine government.

“The brutal and corrupt regime of President Arroyo is exploiting the humanitarian crisis to access more funds by capitalizing on the calamity-stricken conditions of the people. The UN should see this very obvious and highly visible desire and monetary carnal of the Arroyo government and its league of extraordinary corrupt officials,” said Pamalakaya.

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RP activists bring fight for climate justice in Bangkok

RP activists bring fight for climate justice in Bangkok
by Vince Cinches in Bangkok, Thailand and Gerry Albert Corpuz in Manila, Philippines.

About thirty Filipino activists from the Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA) joined thousands of international participants in the on-going intersessional meeting of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) in Bangkok, Thailand from September 28 to October 9, 2009.

In a statement sent to The Pamalakaya Times, Philippine Climate Watch Alliance spokesperson Meggie Nolasco said the 30-Filipino contingent will push for a more binding global climate policy, by putting in place the voices of the poor who are the most vulnerable and have no capacity to respond to climate change. We will unite with other developing nations to make our demands heard in the UN meeting, Bangkok streets and worldwide web until ultimately they are addressed.

The UNFCCC is tasked to come up with an international agreement to address climate change as the Kyoto Protocol is set to expire in 2012.

While Third World countries are demanding a mandatory, immediate and significant reduction in carbon emission and billions of funding support from the international community, the climate change talks are dominated by powerful nations, headed by the United States, Japan and European Union, who are also the main polluters of greenhouse gases.

In a separate statement furnished by Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, the group’s coordinator Clemente Bautista said they will lobby and demand to the ANNEX I countries particularly the United States to immediately and drastically cut their carbon emissions which is the major source of global warming. ANNEX I countries should also be the primary responsible and accountable in providing climate funding for the mitigation and adaptation efforts of poor countries.

ANNEX I countries are mostly composed of industrialized countries which are the biggest polluter and historically responsible for global warming. Ironically, it is the developing nations who will bear the brunt of climate change.

“In the middle of the climate negotiation are the issue of justice and accountability. The poor countries like the Philippines are not responsible for the causes of global warming but we are the most affected and threatened by its effects and impacts,” explained Mr. Bautista.

According to the Fourth Assessment Report of United Nations – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Philippines will be among the many countries in South East Asia to be greatly affected by the changing climate.

“The recent devastation wrought by typhoon Ondoy in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces demonstrates how vulnerable and ill-prepared poor countries like us in dealing climate disasters. This proves how important it is for climate change be addressed both at the national and international level,” said Nolasco.

“We cannot afford another state of calamity, we cannot afford another typhoon Ondoy killing more Filipinos. The grassroots sectors and civil-society organizations need to be involved in the process of crafting international agreement that will genuinely address the issues of climate change. It will only be through the unity and solidarity of the G77 countries that their demands for accountability, responsibility and justice on the issue of global warming will be met,” ended Nolasco.

PCWA have partnered with other Asian organizations in holding exhibits, trainings, forums, and creative peaceful actions to deliver their message of climate justice while some of their members will attend the UNFCCC mini-session.

In Manila, Pamalakaya Vice chair for Luzon Salvador France said a resolution urging the Philippine government to stop all destrcutive projects in Manila Bay has been prepared by his group, and it will be emailed to Bangkok for signature signing.

France said, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap is part of the 30 Filipino activist contingent that will campaign for climate justice and gross reduction of carbon emissions of developed countries before the intersessional conference of the UN.

France said Hicap will also lead the Philippine delegation in sending boneless fish species to the representatives of the UN on climate change conference to dramatize the plight of the grassroots sectors affected by corporate plunder and exploitation of resources in South East Asia.

Among the member organization of PCWA and Kalikasan PNE that will participate in the climate change events in Bangkok, Thailand are various non-government and sectoral organizations such as Center for Environmental Concerns, the science group AGHAM , the Amioan peasant women federation, the protestant group National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the church-based NGO Peace for Life, the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, the Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center , the Katutubong Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan sa Pilipinas (KAMP), Agham Youth sector, the umbrella group Defend Patrimony Alliance and last but not the least- the highly vocal fisherfolk group Pamalakaya.

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