International women’s group rally for Cavite fisherfolk women against the order to dismantle mussel farms, fisheries structure

The International Women’s Alliance conveyed its support to fisherfolk women of Cavite province, south of Manila in the Philippines against a pending order by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to dismantle mussel and oyster farms, and other fisheries structure supposedly to commence last September 7. The group denounced this as a violation of the sector’s fishing rights, right to work, to food, right to shelter and to an adequate standard of living, stated in the United Nation’s International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (IESCR). Moreover, it is grossly inhumane as the Asian marginalized sectors and in other parts of the globe are engrossed in unimaginable poverty and misery, as brought about by economic lockdowns due to the pandemic.

“The social impact of the government order is concealed. The wiping out of sources of livelihood of fisherfolk and urban poor families relying on fishing is certain to generate poverty and misery to women and children. Its immediate impact is hunger which is the main cause of malnutrition, diseases, and even death. In the long run, it pushes displacement due to the loss of livelihood. This is inhumane under the pandemic, where people are supposed to shelter in place, with sustainable sources of food and household income. This is an attack on social and economic rights, the foundation of women’s gender rights,” the group said in a press statement.

According to the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya, National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organizations in the Philippines) and Anakpawis Party-list Cavite Provincial Chapter, the said order paves the way for reclamation projects such as the 420-hectare Bacoor Reclamation Project and the 1,331-hectare Five-Island Cavite Reclamation covering Cavite City and towns of Rosario, Noveleta and Kawit. It added that around 20,000 fisherfolk and urban poor women are to be affected by the Bacoor Reclamation Project, living in 27 coastal barangays of Bacoor City. Including children, the affected persons could reach 55,000.

“With the demolition of the basic right to work and food, gender rights and an adequate standard of living, such as the right to shelter, education, water and sanitation. The issue is beyond environmental, it is social and economic,” the groups elaborated.

Finally, we urge our member organizations to express solidarity for the struggle of fisherfolk women in Cavite, and vow to support the ongoing defence of fishing communities and livelihood in Manila Bay. ###

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