April 19, 2020

Youth climate activists set up donation drive for fishing community affected by COVID-19 quarantine and impacts of climate change

From Youth Advocates for Climate Action in the Philippines

Bacoor, Cavite, 19 April 2020 — A donation drive was held to aid 500 families from the fishing community of Brgy. Maliksi 3, Bacoor, Cavite, by the Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP), PAMALAKAYA Pilipinas, and Alyansa ng mga Mandaragat sa Bacoor Bay this April 18. “Nutri-lief” packs consisting of vegetables bought directly from farmers in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, as well as rice, were distributed to members of the community amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“When we call for climate justice, it also means calling for justice for our environment defenders, which include our fisherfolk.” said Mitzi Jonelle Tan, convenor of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines. “Our environment defenders are often the most vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis, which is also why they so fiercely protect our environment. We’ve seen how multinational companies not only destroy our environment because of greed and plunder, but also commit human rights violations with their plans for so-called ‘development’ just like the numerous reclamation projects along Manila Bay which will only worsen the state of our environment and the state of our fisherfolk.” The fisherfolk from Bacoor, for example, face multiple issues on a day-to-day basis such as warming seas from climate change. The continuous rise in temperature affects their livelihood as the migration patterns of fish shift, resulting in smaller catches. These impacts of climate change are only exacerbated by other problems like reclamation projects threatening to displace them from their homes and uproot their way of livelihood.

Despite these, the fisherfolk of Brgy. Maliksi continue to stand strong against the rising tide of problems thrown their way. “Di kami langaw na oras pitikin ninyo, lalayas. Lalaban at lalaban kami (We are not flies that immediately flee once shooed away. We will continue to fight back each and every time),” said Myrna Candidato, a local fisherfolk leader from Alyansa ng mga Mandaragat sa Bacoor Bay, when asked about the possible threat of displacement from the ongoing reclamation projects.

Now however, with the enhanced community quarantine enforced over Luzon rendering most Filipinos unable to work, the lack of income and the subsequent lack of food presents itself as another pressing concern for the community. “Small fishers bear the brunt of limited fishing operations and post-harvest activities caused by the extended lockdown. Moreover, we are victims of government’s failure and neglect to provide basic necessities and social services to the marginalized sectors whose livelihood are adversely affected by the quarantine.” says Fernando Hicap, the national chairperson of PAMALAKAYA. “Our collective call for a consistent government subsidy seems to fall on deaf ears. In these trying times that our own frontliners for food security and poor Filipino families are struggling to make ends meet, the government is morally and politically obliged to ensure that the wheels of production are running and there is sufficient and affordable food supply.”

YACAP enjoins other organizations and individuals to continue helping the community by donating for the second batch of nutri-lief packs to be distributed this coming Saturday (April 25). For more details, check the Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines Facebook page or the YACAP Twitter account (@YACAPhilippines).

Note to the editor: