Fisherfolk, farmers, rural communities poorest in 2021 — PSA
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that fisherfolk, farmers, children, and individuals residing in rural areas continued to be the poorest sectors in terms of poverty incidence in 2021.
Based on the report released by the PSA recently, fisherfolk had the highest poverty incidence in 2021 at 30.6%, followed by farmers at 30%, children at 26.4%, and individuals residing in rural areas at 25.7%.
“These sectors had the highest proportion of individuals belonging to families with income below the official poverty thresholds compared to the other basic sectors,” said the PSA.
The PSA noted that these are also the sectors with the recorded highest poverty incidences in 2015 and 2018.
It also said that “significant increases” in the poverty incidence were recorded, the highest being in fisherfolks with an increase of 4.4 percent, followed by children with 2.5 percent, persons aged 15 years and above with disability with 2.5 percent, and individuals residing in urban areas with 2.3 percent.
On the other hand, the only basic sector which showed improvement from 2018 to 2021 was farmers with a reduction in poverty incidence of -1.6 percent.
Fisherfolk groups ‘not surprised’
Activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) in a statement on Sunday said that it was not surprised by the PSA report, stressing the “harsh reality” fishing communities face nationwide.
“We are not surprised, as this is the harsh reality in fishing communities across the country. This data actually validates the chronic poverty in the fishing sector that even the government is unable to hide,” Pamalakaya said.
“Ito na ang isang pinakamalaking kabalintunaan at insulto sa ating bansa na kilalang agrikultural at napapaligiran ng malalawak na karagatan, subalit ang dalawang sektor na dapat nagtatamasa ng mga ito ang silang pinakamahihirap,” it added.
(This is one of the biggest ironies and insults to our country, which is known to be agricultural and archipelagic, yet the two sectors supposed to be making most of these resources are the poorest ones.)
The group said that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as Department of Agriculture secretary is responsible if the fishing sector remained on the fringes of society; hence, it challenged the administration to address the demands of fisherfolk to uplift their livelihood:
- Stop all the destructive projects in fishing grounds and coastal communities that harm the marine environment and cause massive displacement of fisherfolk;
- Carry out genuine rehabilitation of degrading fishing grounds in the context of restoring the abundant marine and fishery resources, not to pave way for privatization;
- Significant livelihood support in a form of economic subsidy to small fishers amid the expensive fuel and other prime commodities that further increase the cost of production;
- End the liberalization policies that allow importation of fishery products and kill the local industry and the livelihood of small fishers; and
- Uphold the exclusive rights of Filipino fishers in our territorial waters, especially in the West Philippine Sea, which is abundant in marine and fishery resources.
Meanwhile, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in a separate statement stressed that the poverty of farmers, fishers, and rural communities, especially in far-flung villages, “is unimaginable and even conservative estimates from surveys cannot capture through figures and statistics alone.”
“The actual and real poverty incidence of farmers and fishers could even be worse and this reality of massive impoverishment will remain for the remainder of Marcos Jr’s term as President and concurrent agriculture secretary,” said KMP chairman emeritus Rafael Mariano.
“As long as Marcos Jr fails to reverse the policies that made farmers and fishers even poorer, then there’s no real solution to this perennial poverty problem,” he added.
According to Mariano, at the start of Marcos’ term, farmers had already proposed measures to address the situation of farmers and the agriculture sector.
“However, the Marcos government did the opposite and instead prioritized the legislation of Maharlika Investment Fund and Charter Change through Constitutional Convention that will eventually 100 percent foreign-ownership of land,” said Mariano.
KMP then announced that the group, along with its allies will lead protests at the Department of Agrarian Reform in time for the Day of the Landless 2023 with the theme Rural People Unite for Food, Land, and Climate Justice.
Govt’s willful neglect of consumers and farmers continues!
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