MAKABAYAN, ANAKPAWIS FILES HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 2106 URGING FOR THE RESCISSION OF DA ADMIN ORDER ALLOWING 17MT OF GALUNGGONG

HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 2106 URGING FOR THE RESCISSION OF DA ADMIN ORDER ALLOWING 17MT OF GALUNGGONG

Republic of the Philippines

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Quezon City

SEVENTEENTH CONGRESS

Third Regular Session

HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 2106

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INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVES

ARIEL B. CASILAO,

CARLOS ISAGANI T. ZARATE, EMMI A. DE JESUS, ANTONIO L. TINIO,

ARLENE D. BROSAS, FRANCE L. CASTRO, AND SARAH JANE I. ELAGO

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RESOLUTION

URGING FOR THE RESCISSION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER ISSUED BY DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE SECRETARY EMMANUEL PIŇOL ALLOWING THE IMPORTATION OF 17,000 METRIC TONS OF GALUNGGONG (ROUND SCAD), BREAK AWAY FROM IMPORTATION AS BAND-AID SOLUTION FOR FOOD SECURITY, INSTEAD, ADDRESS THE FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES OF THE FISHERIES SECTOR, MAJORLY PROTECTING THE RIGHTS TO LIVELIHOOD OF SMALL FISHEFOLK SECTOR AND PROMOTING GENUINE FISHERIES AND AQUATIC REFORMS

WHEREAS, in July 2018, the Duterte administration announced that fish prices are causal to the high headline inflation, when it posted 12% increase in the first quarter of this year, as compared to only 5% of last year, and 11.2% in June, contributing 0.6 percentage points to the headline 5.2% inflation rate of the month. Inflation rates in June and July breached the 5% mark, and July’s 5.7% is considered the highest in the past five years;

WHEREAS, the Duterte administration is blaming the rising prices of fish to low supply, decline of growth of fisheries production since 2011 to 2017, majorly due to climate factors such as in 2016, when fish production declined by 6.31% to 4.32 million metric tons, according to them, due to “severe drought.” In 2017, fish production declined by 1%. The government exonerated the implementation of the Republic Act No. 10654 or the amendments to Republic Act No. 8550 Fisheries Code as not a major contributor to the decline in fish production;

WHEREAS, on early August, prices of agri-based products continue to soar across the country, thus, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo proposed in a meeting with Duterte cabinet members, the imposition of zero tariff for imported fish, vegetables and other products. It was rejected by the Duterte cabinet a week after.

WHEREAS, on August 17, 2018, Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piňol announced his order to allow the importation of 17,000 metric tons of galunggong or round scad fish, as counter-measure to increasing prices. Recently BFAR Undersecretary Eduardo Gongona claimed that “it’s possible that the imports from China or other countries are from here in the Philippines, from the West Philippine Sea,” on a news report;

WHEREAS, Pamalakaya-Pilipinas National Chairperson and former Anakpawis Party-list Representative Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap contradicted the government’s justification and blamed that the decline in fish production is brought about by the implementation of the Fisheries Code and its amendments, numerous fishing bans across the country and various restrictions against municipal fisherfolk, while allowing foreign and big commercial fishing vessels to operate on the national waters, and even encroaching the municipal waters;

WHEREAS, galunggong and fish catch in general of small fisherfolk is dwindling due to the following:

· monopoly control of export-based commercial fishing fleets in municipal waters. Galunggong accounts 17.8% of annual commercial fisheries production, compared to 6.2% municipal fisheries production;

· strict and unjust fishing rules and regulations in accordance with the amended Fisheries Code or RA 10654 which aims to deter the so called illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUUF). Fishing policies have been imposed to municipal fishers such as requiring them to register their boats and fishing gears, obligating them to report the quantity and typw of fish they caught. This limits them from going offshore;

· rampant and indefinite declaration of closed fishing season. There will be a fishing ban for galunggong starting November in Palawan and other open waters in the country. This is despite their claim that galunggong production has declines in the first quarter of the year;

WHEREAS, for many years, even under the past administrations, the national fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya – Pilipinas) has been demanding the repeal of the Fisheries Code and opposed its amendments, as it threatens the livelihood of small fisherfolk across the country;

WHEREAS, former Rep. Hicap also attributed the increased cost of production in the fisheries sector, to the enactment of Republic Act No. 10963 Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, that triggered ceaseless price hikes of petroleum products. He claimed that during the first quarter, a small fisherfolk 6 to 8-hour fishing trip in Navotas City that requires about 12 liters of gasoline, food and transport of fuel, has incurred additional costs, from P706 to P790;

WHEREAS, former Rep. Hicap criticized the measure of importation as preposterous as our country is archipelagic, composed of more than 7,000 islands, home to a 36,289 kilometer-shoreline and 2.2 million square kilometer of inland and open waters, during the numerous protest actions in front of the central offices of the Department of Agriculture and BFAR in Quezon City. More significantly, the importation shall threaten the livelihood of small fisherfolk, who are already considered as poorest of the poor, who will be further victimized of depressed farmgate price by unscrupulous and monopoly traders;

WHEREAS, in 2015, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources announced that the Chinese reclamation activities covering at least 311 hectares in the West Philippine Sea could cost the fisheries sector about P4.8 billion in lost economic benefits and endanger food security. It said that West Philippine Sea accounts for 26% of the country’s fishing grounds and around 12,200 fishermen from Pangasinan, Zambales, Bataan and Palawan are known to fish at the area. National Scientist and Professor Emeritus of University of the Philippine Marine Science Institute (UP MSI) Edgardo Gomez said that the economic value of each coral reef hectare could reach P15.6 million ($352,249) per year, with its ability to provide food valued at $677, thus, totalling around P4.8 billion ($109.5 million);

WHEREAS, Pamalakaya-Pilipinas, with farmers and consumers groups, criticized the issuance of the administrative order as undemocratic, inconsiderate of the welfare of small fisherfolk and other stakeholders, and subservient to neoliberal policies of liberalization of agriculture. The group is questioning the basis of the administrative order, the process of its preparation as it was issued without public consultation, and demonstrates the total neglect of the government to the welfare of the small fisherfolk of the country, thus, calling for its immediate rescission or revocation and strategically address the concerns of the fisheries sector and not escape away with the band-aid solution of importation;

WHEREAS, as immediate solution, Pamalakaya-Pilipinas is calling for a price control on retail prices of galunggong, lifting of fishing ban across the country and voiding of stringent policies against small fisherfolk, strict regulation on foreign and big commercial fishing vessels, and taking back of the West Philippine Sea, for national interest and food security;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, urging for the rescission of the administrative order issued by Sec. Piňol, allowing the importation of 17,000 MT of galunggong, break away from importation as band-aid solution for food security, instead, address the fundamental issues of the fisheries sector, majorly protecting the rights to livelihood of small fisherfolk sector and promoting genuine fisheries and aquatic reforms.

Adopted,

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