Zambales fishers to AFP: Where’s promised aid? | Inquirer News

Zambales fishers to AFP: Where’s promised aid?

Boats sit idle along the coast of Barangay San Miguel in San Antonio, Zambales  fishers afp aid

IDLE Boats sit idle along the coast of Barangay San Miguel in San Antonio, Zambales, in this photo taken on Tuesday, the start of the three-day “no-sail” policy enforced there and in four nearby
towns. San Antonio hosted the live-fire and sea drills of the largest “Balikatan” military exercises between the Philippines and the United States. —JOANNA ROSE AGLIBOT

SAN ANTONIO, ZAMBALES—The biggest war games between the Philippines and the United States will end on Friday but fishers displaced by the military drills due to a “no-sail” policy said they had yet to receive the assistance that the Armed Forces of the Philippines had promised to give them.

On Thursday, San Antonio Mayor Edzel Lonzanida said they were still waiting for assistance from the AFP two weeks after its spokesperson, Col. Medel Aguilar, bared that the military was coordinating with local governments in the province for the provision of the aid.


READ: Fishers fear livelihood loss due to ‘Balikatan’


“From what I’ve heard, the AFP will directly distribute the aid. So far, what some fishermen have received is assistance from the provincial government and [Zambales Rep.] Bing (Doris) Maniquiz,” Lonzanida told the Inquirer in a text message.

In a television interview on April 12, Aguilar said the AFP would make sure that appropriate assistance would be provided the local fishers.

But fishermen from San Antonio said they only received packs of relief goods from the provincial government on Tuesday, while fishers from other towns did not get any at all.

“This so-called ‘ayuda’ (aid) is not enough because this military exercise has been ongoing for four days. It would be better if it was just cash so we can buy the food we want,” said Joemari Larawan, a member of a local fisherfolk group in Barangay San Miguel here.

A boat crew of five to six people could earn P4,000 on each fishing trip, according to the local fishers.

Fishers and their supporters sail alongthe coast of Masinloc town in Zambales

PROTEST AT SEA Fishers and their supporters sail along
the coast of Masinloc town in Zambales province on
Wednesday to protest the war games held by Filipino and
American troops in San Antonio town. —JOANNA ROSE AGLIBOT

Food packs

Larawan said even in their village, only those whose boats were registered at the local fishery office were given food packs containing 2 kilograms of rice, five canned goods, six packs of instant noodles, three sachets of instant coffee, a sachet of powdered milk and a bag of bread.


On Wednesday, Filipino troops and their American counterparts staged live-fire and sea drills involving the sinking of the decommissioned Philippine Navy corvette BRP Pangasinan at a naval station in this town. The drills, part of the joint military exercises “Balikatan” (shoulder-to-shoulder), were witnessed by President Marcos and other top defense and military officials.

The local station of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in this province confirmed last month that all vessels transiting the waters off the towns of San Antonio, San Narciso, San Felipe, Cabangan, and Botolan were not allowed to sail during the Balikatan’s live-firing exercises from April 25 to April 27.

Although not covered by the three-day ban on sailing, fishers in Masinloc town, some 77 kilometers from San Antonio, were also barred by the PCG from venturing out to sea during the same period, said Manuel de Jesus, president of another fisherfolk group in Masinloc.

No aid was given to Masinloc fishers, who also lost their source of livelihood for the duration of the joint military training, De Jesus said in a separate interview.

According to different local fisherfolk groups, about 10,000 fishers and their families were displaced by the war games in several coastal towns.

Bobby Roldan, a fisher from Masinloc and vice chair for Luzon of the fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, said no amount of aid could match “the immediate impact of a day without fishing for the fishers and their dependent families. “

‘Like alms’

Roldan said his fellow fishers were right when they decided to object to the exercises from the very beginning.

“We have always been concerned that the government will not have adequate compensation for the lost income of fishermen due to the three-day no-sail zone,” Roldan told the Inquirer on Thursday.

“It is disappointing that the aid given to fishermen is like alms, and not all those affected were covered by it,” he added.

Roldan called on the government to provide adequate aid for the fishers affected by Balikatan as his group continued to protest the presence of American soldiers in the country.

“Like China, this intrusion by the US is a perversion of livelihood and a threat to the country’s national security and sovereignty,” Roldan said.

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TAGS: AFP, Balikatan, fisher, Zambales

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