Fisherfolk who stood against China lambast AFP harassment

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The Pamalakaya group condemned the Armed Forces of the Philippines for intimidating a group of fisherfolk in Zambales who conducted a collective fishing protest against China’s claim to fishing grounds in the West Philippine Sea last month. In a report, Joey Marabe, secretary of the Panatag Fisherfolk Association (Panatag), stated that the military surveilled members of their organization after they conducted collective fishing, together with Pamalakaya and its supporters, on May 30-31 .

The identified 69th IB soldiers “visited” them one by one and took their information and the names of their Pamalakaya comrades. One of them was Julius Ecijan, president of Panatag, who was “visited” by the military on June 1, and again on June 13. While talking to the fisherfolks, the soldiers showed photographs of Pamalakaya members whom they accused of being New People’s Army members.

“Why is the military intimidating Filipino fisherfolks who stand up against foreign interference in the West Philippine Sea?” Pamalayaka asked. They are already being harassed by foreigners, especially by the Chinese Coast Guard who drive them away from Philippine territorial seas, they are now threatened by local authorities.

“This is a reflection of the stance of the Marcos administration, which prefers to silence the fisherfolk, rather than let them fulfill their patriotic duty to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” they said.

The military has nothing to do with the group’s activities, Pamalakaya said. Even more wrong is the soldiers’ Red-tagging of Pamalakaya which they accuse of “exploiting the situation.”

“No one is exploiting the fisherfolk but the foreign powers who seize the fishing grounds, and the local authorities who suppress them and prevent them from joining progressive organizations.”

AB: Fisherfolk who stood against China lambast AFP harassment