Sunday, March 25, 2012

Support system for fisherfolk needed to counter effects of Red Tide

We call on the Department of Agriculture (DA), through its Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and local governments to develop support mechanisms for fisherfolk whose incomes are drastically affected by red tide.

Tatamaan talaga niyan ang mga mangingisda at mga nangangalakal ng ganitong paninda. Dahil bawal kumain ng tahong at talaba at bawal ring magbenta, mawawalan sila ng kita. At kung minsan, may mga magpupumilit na magbenta kahit na ito ay bawal ito ay posibleng makamatay dahil iniisip nila ay yung kakainin ng kanilang pamilya sa araw na 'yon. Kapit sa patalim, kumbaga. Para maiwasan ito, kinakailangan ng mga apektadong mangingisda ng pansamantalang ayuda mula sa pamahalaan, para na rin makaiwas tayo sa sakuna.

We also call on the private sector to use the country's aquatic resources in a more responsible and sustainable manner because when red tide hits, everyone loses, from the fisherfolk and communities all the way to industries that rely our waters for income.

Lahat tayo talo sa red tide. Kailangan natin ng sama-samang pagkilos para matugunan ang problemang ito dahil taun-taon itong nangyayari, at hindi naman pwedeng hanggang ngayon ay wala pa rin tayong solusyon dito.

This is why we're calling on the national governmentt, the local governmentts, and the private sector to help us in responding to the issue. As a country dependent on our marine resources, let's look for creative solutions to ensure that red tide does not claim more lives or sources of livelihood.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

On SC's decision on who may and may not appear in the impeachment court

We are wary of the Supreme Court’s arbitrary selection of witnesses it allows to appear in the impeachment court.

We now have an issue where the Supreme Court, whose Chief Justice is on trial in the impeachment court, can decide who can or cannot appear in the proceedings. Araceli Bayuga, an employee of the SC, was allowed to testify in defense of the Chief Justice, yet the driver, process server and security guard subpoenaed have not been allowed to appear.

This impeachment court must assert its authority in uncovering the truth, and it should not allow even the SC to stop it from performing its function, and it should not be prevented from fulfilling its constitutional duty. In the United States, the impeachment court can subpoena even the sitting President. Sadly, in our case, we are unable to subpoena a driver, a security guard because the Supreme Courts says we cannot do so.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Empower women in the agriculture sector

We call for more investments and public-private partnerships directed at empowering women in the agricultural sector.

Experience across different sectors and even different countries shows that when you empower a woman with economic opportunity, you empower not only an individual but also a family and a community.
Sadly, experience has also shown that women in agriculture, especially here in the Philippines, have been largely neglected for decades.

Data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) show that roughly a third of the agricultural sector in the Philippines is powered by women, although their contribution to food production and rural economy remains undervalued if not invisible. The FAO also points out that many women in the rural economy are landless workers, traders of agricultural and fishery products, and engaged in micro-manufacturing enterprises. Many are also active in planting, weeding, caring for crops, and harvesting in farms and rice fields.

It is sad and unjust how government has largely failed to address the needs of a third of our agriculture and fisheries sector. Imagine what we can achieve if we give women not only access to jobs and livelihood opportunities in the rural areas, but also training and capacity-building to improve their knowledge and skills. We will, in effect, give them the power to make more informed decisions and also empower them to invest in their children's education and future. The multiplier effect will be tremendous.

Micro-finance sector shows a high repayment rate (99.44% for CARD-MRI, for instance) among "nanays" in communities. Success stories have shown women evolving from struggling landless workers to thriving entrepreneurs.

All these women need is a strong support structure around which they can increase their income and empower their families and communities. If we put our heads together and reimagine the possibilities, there is much that we can do to empower women in the agricultural sector.
We can't keep using the same old paradigms and the same old excuses. If we are serious about turning our rural economy around, then we had better start paying attention to the women who help keep this economy running.

Raising the incomes of our farmers and fisherfolk is key to improving their quality of life and ensuring sustainable agricultural practices. When sixty percent of our population enjoys a viable livelihood and more disposable income, this will have a direct impact on many of our other sectors and industries.

The direct participation of women in agricultural enterprises will mean added income for them and greater productivity for the sector as a whole.

Ensuring the sustainability of our agricultural sector will be key to achieving developed-nation status in 15 years.

Image Source: Beyondbrics