Amid impact of Fisheries Code and Duterte’s EO70
Amihan denounces harassment vs. fisherfolk, peasant families in Taytay, Palawan

Manila, Philippines – Amihan or the National Federation of Peasant Women joined the protest led by the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), dubbed as “Ahon Mangingisda,” which is a climate strike at Mendiola bridge, Manila, against rising seas and reclamation projects that threaten fishing communities and livelihood. This is also to mark the 22nd year implementation of Republic Act 8550 or the Fisheries Code of 1998 and days after the fishers group joined the Tanggol Magsasaka fact-finding mission in Taytay town in Palawan, regarding ongoing abuses against fisherfolk and peasant communities.

“We join the fisherfolk movement in demanding climate action against destructive bayside projects such as reclamation, as well as the anti-people implementation of the Fisheries Code, which in Palawan is manifested by the Palawan Council for Sutainable Development Administrative Order No. 5, restricting the sources of livelihood of poor fisherfolk families,” Zenaida Soriano, Amihan National Chairperson said in a press statement.

The fact-finding mission carried out by the Tanggol Magsasaka network from February 19 to 20, documented abuses against fisherfolk and peasant families, affecting women and children. The team was composed of representatives from Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA – TK), Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Karapatan, Children’s Resource Center (CRC), People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty (PCFS), Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN), Ibon International, partnered with the Pamalakaya-Palawan, Pamalakaya Paly Island (Taytay), and Pinagkaisang Lakas ng mga Okupante, Residente, Manggagawa, Magsasaka at Mangingisda (PLORMMM).

In Paly island in Taytay town, the PCSD AO 5 restricted the catching of “lapu-lapu” that serves as a reliable source of household income, thus, putting them into worsened state of poverty and hunger. The said order was broadly protested by the poor fisherfolk sector in the past years, and being members of Pamalakaya – Palawan, they fell victims to the massive red-tagging campaign by the Provincial Task Force to End the Local Armed Conflict (Palawan TF ELCAC), and forced surrender tactics. The wives of active members of Pamalakaya are often subjected to coercion, intimidation and harassment. The Palawan TF ELCAC is the local version of the National Task Force created by President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70.

The island community was also heavily militarized, deployed with elements of the Philippine Marines who were deployed at the Barangay Hall. The armed group conducts house-to-house operations causing trauma to fisherfolk families and children. It also subjected the Paly National High School to military psychological warfare operations, that involved showing of anti-communist documentaries, red-tagging legal and democratic people’s organizations.

In Sitio Montevista of the said town, active members of PLORMMM, including peasant and fisherfolk women were coerced and intimidated by elements of the Philippine Marines to sign template affidavits of resignation. The group is opposing the land grabbing efforts of Guevent Industrial and Dev’t Corp., over the more than 1,000-hectare former Pujalte Estate. Moreover, the chairperson of Pamalakaya-Palawan Annalie Delos Santos, a fisherfolk woman in Taytay town, a staunch critic of PCSD AO5 and active supporter of PLORMMM are presently persecuted and subjected to harassments.

Amihan, who is presently campaigning “Kanin at Isda” or the defense of the country’s rice and fishery sector against liberalization of agriculture, and “Stop Militarization Now,” joined Pamalakaya’s long demand to repeal the Fisheries Code, and demanded the immediate pull-out of military forces in Paly island and Taytay town.

“The impoverished and persecuted state of fisherfolk and peasant women of Taytay is clearly the by-product of both government policies, the Fisheries Code and its local manifestation, the PCSD AO5, and Duterte’s authoritarian EO70. We call for support for their struggle for fishing rights, rights to land and democratic rights,” Soriano ended. ###

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