MANILA, Philippines — As residents of fishing communities of surrounding towns of Taal Volcano evacuate amid continued ash fall, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) appealed for their reparation for the loss of potential income, instead of offering them loans such as announced by the Department of Agriculture (DA) under its Survival and Recovery Assistance Program.
“Offering them loans when they are actually victims of a natural calamity and needed immediate relief and rehabilitation appears callous. We demand Agriculture Secretary William Dar to at least temporarily disrobe his neoliberal suit to humanely aid the affected fisherfolk and peasant families,” PAMALAKAYA national chairperson and former Anakpawis Party-list lawmaker Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.
As of Monday, at least 7,700 individuals or near a thousand families from San Nicolas, Talisay, Mataas na kahoy, Balete, and Laurel towns, Tanauan and Lipa cities were affected by the ash fall.
These include the fishing families residing along Taal volcano.
The northern part of the Taal Island is within Talisay town, while the south is part of San Nicolas.
Based on government data, in 2018 the province produced more than 16,400 metric tons of bangus, which is 4 percent of the country’s total production, but comprises almost all of those sourced from the fresh water. Moreover, it produced near 64,000 metric tons of tilapia, which is more than a quarter of the total country’s production.
“The Taal Lake is traditional fishing site for tilapia, bangus (milkfish), and the endangered tawilis, thus, we presume that the fishing sector would be seriously affected,” Hicap added.
Most of its local members, who belong to its provincial chapter Haligi ng Batangenong Anakdagat (HABAGAT), have evacuated from San Nicolas town to Nasugbu, Batangas, and were not able to safeguard their livelihood from harm’s way.
“The fisherfolk of Taal Lake who evacuated to neighboring towns were not able to safeguard their fish cages and other livelihood from harm’s way. Thus, we demand that these fishers be assisted in a form of economic relief and livelihood reparation during and after the Taal unrest,” Gregorio Arpon, President of Haligi ng Batanguenong Anakdagat (HABAGAT), said.
HABAGAT reported that workers in fish cages usually earn around P200 per day.
PAMALAKAYA urged the people to support the group’s relief aid campaign as members of its provincial chapter Haligi ng Batanguenong Anakdagat (HABAGAT) and farmers belonging to Samahan ng Magbubukid ng Batangas (Sambat) are affected.
“We appeal to the hearts of various sectors, personalities and individuals to urgently help the most vulnerable sectors affected by the Taal volcano eruption, the Batangas fisherfolk and peasant sectors,” said Hicap. (Stacy Ang/JGo/Currentph.com)