SOME 50,000 fishermen and canning workers in the Zamboanga Peninsula have appealed for livelihood support from the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) on the heels of a government-imposed fishing ban in the area.
The ban, declared by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), will take effect on Friday and would last until April next year to give way to the spawning season, which would render them jobless for the next five months.
Their plight was brought to the attention of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd by the workers’ group Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) to help them tide over during the critical months.
“We are calling out to the Labor department to reach out and provide safety nets to thousands of fishermen and sardine canning workers in the region who will not have a stable source of income for five months in view of the spawning season. Fishermen and canning workers are [among the]very vulnerable workers nowadays because of recurring climate-change effects and high demand for fish and fish products,” ALU-TUCP spokesman Alan Tanjusay said on Thursday.
The BFAR imposed the ban on commercial fishing in many regions in the country to allow fishes to lay eggs and allow them to spawn and thrive and to prevent over-fishing.
Around 15,000 fishermen and an estimated 35,000 canning and value chain workers will be affected and without income for the duration of the ban.
The group pointed out that the ban is void of a functional alternative livelihood program or unemployment insurance scheme to alleviate displaced canning workers and fisherfolk while it is in effect.
“It is high time to review the ban and infuse it with an automatic support mechanism to assuage workers and fishermen from long period of economic shock caused by the commercial fishing ban not only in the Zamboanga region but in other regions as well,” Tanjusay said.
Meanwhile, the labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) criticized pro-Duterte groups calling for a “revolutionary government” that would change the Constitution in favor of federalism and opening up the local economy to complete foreign ownership.
“It is the height of poetic injustice that pro-Duterte groups would commemorate Bonifacio Day by going against ideals that the plebeian hero fought and died for. He would be turning in his grave for such antics that would ultimately serve the interests of foreign monopolies, warlords and political dynasties, and the lust for wealth and power of the pro-Duterte clique of the ruling elite,” BMP president Leody de Guzman said.
The group branded as a sham the pro-Duterte groups’ call, saying the plan to decentralize the national government into federal states would not benefit the rural poor as provinces and regions in the country are controlled by warlords and political dynasties that rule over their territories with iron gloves and without an iota of respect for due process of law.
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL