By DAWN CECILIA PEÑA
MANILA – Filipino farmers and fisherfolk are assailing the proposed move to import at least 60,000 metric tons of galunggong amid what appears to be a continuing surrender of the country’s natural resources to the interest of big economies by the Duterte administration.
“Importing fish, especially the kind common in the Philippine waters, is akin to importing agricultural staples that could be grown in Philippine soil,” Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura chairperson Antonio Flores said in a statement.
As it stands, fish prices (as in many other staples) have continued to increase over the weeks. This has been attributed to the closed fishing season being implemented until this month, which fisherfolk group Pamalakaya earlier said resulted in an artificial shortage.
The closed fishing season covers at least 33 coastal towns from the Bicol region, Western Visayas, and Central Visayas. In Panay Island alone, the fishing ban covers nine and four coastal towns in the provinces of Iloilo and Capiz, respectively.
This is when there are reports of Chinese fishing vessels that continue to fish in the country’s waters and their militias threatening Filipino fishers away.
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“After letting this imperialist power bully our fisherfolk away from our waters, he lets China profit off our aquatic resources. Duterte is making us import our own galunggong!” said Flores.
With the elections nearly at hand, concerned groups have pointed to the issue of the West Philippine Sea as an election issue. However, Flores noted that one of the presidential aspirants Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son, and namesake of the late dictator, seems to have the same defeatist stand as President Duterte when it comes to the disputed waters.
In a September 2021 interview, Marcos Jr. was quoted as saying that President Duterte’s supposed policy engagement with China over the West Philippine Sea is the “right way to go” because the country cannot go to war.
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“Bongbong Marcos Jr.’s subservience to imperialist interests mirrors that of his father, Duterte, and all presidents in between who have shamelessly let foreign monopoly capitalists in cahoots with big landlords and compradors plunder Philippine lands and seas,” said Flores. (JJE)