“We denounce the PNP-La Union and the state institutions behind this sham surrender scheme for taking advantage of our distressed fisherfolk to carry out their worn-out tactics of coercion and deception for anti-insurgency drive.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Fishermen in La Union were recently victimized by the “fake surrender” scheme of the government, according to fisherfolk group Pamalakaya.
In a statement, the group said that four of its members from barangay San Manuel Norte, Agoo, La Union were invited to supposedly claim cash aid. It turned out, however, to be what they described as “surrender rite” facilitated by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The group said they were presented as former rebels before the public and the media at the Agoo Police Station. “We denounce the PNP-La Union and the state institutions behind this sham surrender scheme for taking advantage of our distressed fisherfolk to carry out their worn-out tactics of coercion and deception for anti-insurgency drive,” Ronnel Arambulo, Pamalakaya national spokesperson, said in a statement.
He added that cash aid should be distributed directly and unconditionally to the needy sectors without any intervention from state forces like the police or the military.
Arambulo said their local members who are involved in their various campaigns that advance the basic rights of fisherfolks in La Union.
“Battered with the inflation and other economic crises, our ailing fishers are desperate for any forms of economic subsidies, as these are crucial to support their fishing production and to sustain their families,” Arambulo said.
The four fishermen were members of Timek Ken Namnaman dagiti Babassit a Mangngalap iti La Union (TIMEK-La Union).
The group has been active in campaigns to protect the Lingayen Gulf, especially against the proposed offshore magnetite mining.
Pamalakaya said that the offshore mining is set to affect the livelihood of thousands of small fishers from the provinces of Pangasinan and La Union, as well as coastal residents involved in inland fisheries.
“Moreover, the forced and fake surrender tactic is a form of harassment against fishers to silence them and suppress their legitimate concerns for the protection of their fishing grounds against large-scale commercial fishing vessels and other environmentally-destructive projects,” Arambulo said.
The same incident of fake surrender was also reported by human rights groups in Rizal last week.
The four fishermen were part of a delegation of Cordillera and Ilocos-based activists who trooped to national government agencies here in the capital such as the Commission on Human Rights, to ask for assistance in investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the threats, intimidation, and false accusations made against them.
Other victims of rights violations like trumped-up charges are also in the National Capital Region including Lourdes ‘Lulu’ Jimenez, Jennifer Awingan-Taggaoa, Windel Bolinget, Steve Tauli, Sarah Alikes, Niño Oconer, and Florence Kang, who were unjustly charged with rebellion and were issued warrants last January 23. (RTS, RVO)