Wednesday, September 30, 2009



September 29, 2009


We fisherfolks coming from different organizations in Sri Lanka, India, Philippines, and Thailand are here in front of United Nation ESCAP to dramatize our plight caused by the worsening impacts of climate change to marine ecosystems and our communities.

Climate change has drastically altered our fishing ground. Our life is becoming harder and more miserable as we experience declining fish catch and production in our region.

We are already experiencing the impacts affirmed by the Fourth Assessment Report of the UN-IPCC, that the unprecedented concentration of Global warming gasses is causing the rise of global ocean temperature leading to coral bleaching, calcification and death of marine species abundant I various waters found in our regions.

Rising global temperatures does not only affect our food sources but is also making the sea level to rise, Millions of us are force out of our communities to seek higher grounds and in order to protect ourselves from frequent storm surges.

Based on recent scientific data from various institutions, million hectares of coastal areas in Asia and South-East Asia such as India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, including the Coral Triangle consisting of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippine archipelago considered as the center of global marine biodiversity will be heavily impacted by climate change related disasters.

Worst irony of all, national governments in these regions, like the Philippines failed to protect its fishing communities and marine ecosystem and is accelerating the destruction of our lives and livelihood by pursuing globalization. This thrust is making fishefolks among the poorest in the country and most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Fisherfolk leaders who were present at the protest action at UN agreed that “Climate negotiation should always put first the needs and rights of poor people like the fisherfolks in Southeast Asia and not the interest of northern rich countries like the United States, European Union and Japan. National governments in the region should learn from its experience in pursuing globalization policies like liberalizing the fishery sector does not lead to economic development but to widespread poverty and devastated environment.”

The UNFCCC intersessional meeting here in Bangkok should lead to an international agreement that will genuinely address climate change and stop marine degradation in the region. In order to do this national governments should unite in opposing carbon intensive globalization policies in the region.

Sri Lankan Fisherfolks Federation
Southern Thailand Fisherfolks Federation
National Association of Fishermen Andhra
PAMALAKAYA Philippines
Students Federation of Thailand
Philippine Climate Watch Alliance

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Press Release

September 27, 2009


Cebuano environmental activist and the Executive Director of FIDEC Inc. in an emailed statement said that he will personally enure that the issue of coal-fired power plant construction in Cebu province will be included in various climate meetings in Bangkok, Thailand, including one inside the mini session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change starting tomorrow.

Vince Cinches one of those nominated to sit as observer in the negotiation said that “We already requested meetings with negotiators to discuss with them proposed ways to cut our country’s GHG emission drastically.”

“Our presence in Bangkok will ensure that Philippine Government’s representatives will toe the line of truth, and counter any of their moves for more coal-fired power plants in our Country that they are passing as climate friendly technology.”

He added that a discussion on KEPCO and EDC coal-fired power plants is co-organized by Thai environmental activists, including the corruption issue involving the provincial government. “Climate Change has various contributors, one of which is corruption such as the Balili Issue in the Municipality of Naga.”

He warned that Philippines will see more destruction and catastrophe greater than the one brought by Typhoon Ondoy. “at the center of this problem is the fossil-fuel centered policy of the national government and the Department of Energy, they are the culprit why the nation is suffering”

“ I left the Philippines with a heavy heart knowing a lot of Filipinos are dead and displaced due to global warming induced Typhoon Ondoy, we cannot afford more extreme weather events to kill our population, we need to aggressively cut our GHG Emissions, we need to stop our addiction to fossil fuel and chose the path toward renewable and sustainable energy. “

According to the Fourth Assessment Report of United Nations – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Philippines will be among the many countries in South East Asia to be greatly affected by the changing climate.

“ We will push for a more binding global climate policy, by putting in place the voices of the poor who are the most vulnerable, having no capacity to respond to climate change. Climate Change is making the poor becoming poorer. If our government cannot act in behalf of the nation because their hands are tied to trans-national and multinational oil and coal corporations, then we in the civil society will do it.”

According to the website of UNFCCC, the Bangkok meeting is the first part of the ninth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the first part of the seventh session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) and will take place between Monday 28 September and Friday 9 October 2009 at the United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC) of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Rajdamnern Nok Avenue, Bangkok, 10200 Thailand .

Released by:

Ghianne Rada

Education and Training officer



Monday, September 21, 2009

Casting the Net for Sustainable Development: An NGO’s Work and Experience in the Fisherfolk Sector of Central Visayas

(An excerpt from Ms. Kareen Kristeen Valmoria's paper on FIDEC)


In a region that straddles four major fishing grounds in the Visayas (Tanon Strait, Cebu Strait, Camotes Sea and Bohol Sea, the existence of FIDEC-CV in the last 22 years has proven to be invaluable not only to the fisherfolk but also for the broader segment of the population. Not only has the NGO been able to effectively campaign for the rights of the fisherfolk to their livelihood and for protection of the local marine resources and ecology, it has also managed to educate other sectors and united them with the fisherfolk on and beyond local social and environmental issues.

The long history of successful campaigns and projects is particularly attributable to comprehensive social investigation and study of the sector being serviced, establishment of highly-organized and independent fisherfolk organizations capable of managing local projects and campaigns, and a clear direction that unifies all programs and projects. This is most embodied in FIDEC-CV’s mission for a fisherfolk sector that is empowered to defend their rights and work around the objective of sustainable development.

In its latest campaign against offshore mining, this thrust towards sustainable development particularly stands out. Beyond demanding the immediate recourse to fisherfolk whose livelihood is heavily affected through financial assistance and subsidies, FIDEC-CV has united broader sections of society in the fight against long-term ecological damage to Tanon Strait and nearby bodies of water which are also being targeted for oil exploration and offshore mining.

However, because of the particular characteristics of the Philippine economic and political structure, the NGO also has an equally long experience with harassment from the state’s agents and armed forces.

The red-scare tactics (labeling as communist) has often proved to make the work of area organizers and coordinators more difficult. Conservative sections easily get intimidated especially because people peddling this black propaganda are police and military agents or assets.

This does not shut down or discourage the staff and organizers of FIDEC though. It’s record of enduring through 22 years of painstaking advocacy work among the fisherfolk is notable.


The Philippines purportedly has the “largest NGO density” in the entire world (Hilhorst, 2003). According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, from 23,800 in 1984, the number of NGO’s rose to 70,200 in 1995. However these figures include those that do not engage in development work. In 1995, when the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO), the largest NGO alliance in the country, made a survey and counted 7,000 NGO’s all over the country. This does not even take into account the thousands of people’s organizations (PO’s) which form the social networks that the NGO’s work with.

FIDEC-CV is one of these NGO’s and, as its contemporaries have, has moved into development work that is directed towards sustainable development for its beneficiary sector. According to Broad and Cavanagh in a study they conducted on Philippine NGO’s in 1993, most NGO’s in the Philippines define their vision for equitable and sustainable development as an “environmental movement that is a struggle for equity in the control and management of natural resources”. This is because the Philippine model for development is one that is rooted in inequality, with the perpetrating enterprises and individuals having strong political and military connections. For FIDEC-CV, this includes the large commercial fishing enterprises, tourism projects, and lately foreign oil and petroleum companies.

In Central Visayas, as well as the rest of the Philippines, environmentalist agenda is always a political agenda for this reason. The marginalized sectors, in this case the fisherfolk, face opponents holding enough power to ignore or bypass laws or even twist them according to their whims. In order to effectively engage them, NGO’s in development work should always have as its closest allies the peoples’ organizations (PO’s). Throughout the long history of FIDEC-CV, it has always upheld that sustainable development is a participatory development. As is obvious by now, NGO work in this country ultimately illustrates the situation that a class society is daily mired in: a struggle for better access to wealth, power, and prestige.

According to Dutch researcher Dorothea Hilhorst in her book ‘The Real World of NGO’s’ (2003, Ateneo de Manila University Press), the arena of NGO’s in development work has been traditionally held by the Philippine left since the Martial Law years and in fact many of the NGO leaders and staff went underground at the height of the Philippine communist insurgency in the 1980’s. All throughout the bloody military campaigns that political regimes waged against the insurgency since Aquino’s, NGO’s in development work have been raided and ransacked by state troops, its officers and staff harassed and murdered, and its allied people’s organizations subjected to intensive militarization.

“To become an active environmentalist in the Philippines is to risk one’s life.” (Broad and Cavanagh, 1993). This is because FIDEC-CV and similar NGO’s are challenging the most powerful elements of Philippine society. Groups and individuals who are moved to partner with them are therefore increasingly convinced that to fight for the environment is to fight for basic and democratic rights. This has been put forward many times by development workers and leaders: the struggle for sustainable development in the Philippines is intricately linked with the struggle for peace and human rights.

The communist tag and red scare tactics adopted by the state to stop marginalized communities from forming PO’s and aligning with NGO’s is actually ineffective if countered with sustained education on social and environmental issues. Organizers and staff of FIDEC-CV and other NGO’s in development work must be able to clearly articulate the bigger social picture to the beneficiary communities. They must be able to explain in logical and simple terms how they are inextricably connected to the struggle to protect the environment and similarly to the struggle for peace and human rights.

However, NGO’s must give particular attention to socio-economic projects because beneficiaries, though convinced of the issues at hand, cannot sustain without some form of alleviation to their poor economic power. In large scale campaigns like the one against offshore mining, FIDEC-CV must be able to provide solutions and alternatives to the loss of livelihood. This should not be too hard once it has expanded its influence and alliances to sectors with better access to economic resources. This should be high on the list of the agenda for discussion in its Save The Tanon Strait Citizens’ Movement.

Former development worker and social welfare secretary Dinky Soliman said in an interview with Broad and Cavanagh that a balance should be struck with long-term goals for sustainable development and the here and now. The fisherfolk affected by development projects require immediate assistance.

Area development is a painstaking step-by-step process. We cannot expect the people to be able to take control of local resources without a reaction from the powers-that-be from the bureaucracy and their allied foreign and local capitalist enterprises. Most of FIDEC-CV’s successful campaigns in the last two decades have been, at their best, partial victories. Without extensive and intensive changes in the economic and political structure of the country, all the stumbling blocks in the way of sustainable development will stay in place.

However, as a final note in this research, let me just point out that the Philippine NGO sector has been noted to be one of the most dynamic in the whole world. As FIDEC-CV has proven, it has learned its lessons in development work. As long as this culture for improvement is maintained, through even marginal or partial victories, development work in the Philippines will continue to get closer to its vision of equitable and sustainable development.

As we know, even ecologically-destroyed and depleted seas and rivers can be restored through sustained protection policies and campaigns. One day, the fishermen of Central Visayas will cast their nets and find that they are hauling in victories for themselves and for their nation.


Broad, Robin and Cavanagh, John. 1993. From Plunder to Sustainability. Plundering Paradise: The Struggle for the Environment in the Philippines. pp. 133-157. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center. 2007. Documents, including Annual Report, Operations Manual, Brief History of FIDEC, and Student Internship Program.

Cinches, Vince. Powerpoint presention on the Save Tanon Strait Citizens’ Movement at forum in University of San Carlos, Cebu City, March 2008.

Hilhorst, Dorothea. 2003. The Politics of NGO-ing. The Real World of NGOs. pp. 1-27. Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Olofson, Harold and Tiukinhoy, Araceli. 1992. Plain Soldiers: Muro-ami fishing in Cebu. Philippine Studies 40 (1): 35-52.

Seki, Koki. 2004. Maritime Migration in the Visayas: A Case Study of Dalaguetenon Fisherfolk in Cebu. Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fisherfolks group seeks coal-fired plants’ moratorium

Fisherfolks group seeks coal-fired plants’ moratorium

By Ma. Bernadette A. Parco, Editorial Assistant

A NON-GOVERNMENT organization for marginalized fisherfolks is seeking a moratorium on coal-fired power plants because the adverse effects of climate change also affects the marginalized society.

The group, Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center (Fidec) Inc., also called on the government to instead harness the country's renewable energy sources.

The call came amid the expanding campaign of different groups across the country for a moratorium on coal-fired plants.

“It is high time for a moratorium especially at this time when we feel the worsening effects of climate change that threatens, in particular, the food security of our country,” said Vince Cinches, Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center Inc. executive director.

He cited the construction of power plants in Cebu, specifically two 400- megawatt power plants operated by Salcon Power Corporation and another plant under construction, which owned by Korean Electric Power Corporation – SPC both in Naga City, Cebu.

Cebu Daily News tried to get the side of KSPC, but as of press time there was no official statement released by the company.

“To think that the Philippines is the second in the world in terms of capacity to produce geothermal energy. The government is not harnessing the country's renewable energy sources. The government is promoting activities that accelerate the effects of climate change,” said Cinches.

Cinches said the members of the Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA) from South Korea had issued a warning against the proliferation of coal-fired project plants in the country.

Meggie Nolasco, PCWA spokesperson, said the Arroyo administration was pursuing at least nine coal-fired power plant projects in the country.

These were the 300 megawatt (MW) expansion in Pagbilao, Quezon; 100 MW in Concepcion, Iloilo; 165 MW in Iloilo City; 200 MW each in Naga and Toledo Cities in Cebu; 300 MW expansion in Masinloc, Zambales; 300 MW in Olongapo, Zambales; 150 MW in Sultan Kudarat; and 200 MW in Saranggani.

The government also issued 44 coal mining contracts in the country.

Nolasco called the Arroyo government as the major promoter of pollutive technologies and dirty source of energy in the country because coal has been identified as the dirtiest source of energy and a major contributor to pollution and global warming.

“It is thus alarming that majority of the power plants that are poised to be constructed in the country are coal-fired, at the same time the government is very generous in issuing coal mining permits to private corporations,” said Nolasco.

She said there is an expanding campaign from the moratorium on coal power plants in the Philippines.

The campaign included the rally launched in Sarangani province yesterday, the recent solidarity mission in Cebu, the environmental investigative mission in Iloilo, and the planned protest action in Catanduanes this week.

She said there will also be a signature campaign to show the ire of the people against the environmentally disastrous projects.

Dr. Giovanni Tapang, of science activist group AGHAM, said coal power plants are now being packaged as a clean technology.

“Contrary to many scientific studies and research, coal proponents are promising that these plants are environmentally safe and pose no dangers to public health. But the fact is coal emits large volume of air pollution and produces toxic chemicals that can enter the environment and the food chain,” he said.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Government's Climate Program

An overview: Climate change and its impact under RP settings
By Reynaldo L. Lanuza / Ecosystems Research and Development Service DENR-7 (The Freeman) Updated September 03, 2009 12:00 AM

Major threats and challenges, management gaps

CEBU, Philippines - Climate change is defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a change of climate attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere. It is a climate variability observed globally over a considerable period of time. The adverse effects of climate change indicate alteration of the environment which has significant detrimental effects on the composition, flexibility or productivity of natural and managed ecosystems.

The Philippines is one of the developing countries expected to suffer most of the negative effects of climate change. Indeed, climate change is threatening the biophysical environment as manifested by increasing air temperature, rising sea levels, diminishing water tables, and unpredictable weather such as El Niño induced droughts, changing rainfall pattern, frequency and intensity of typhoons resulting to occurrence of flash floods and landslides, surges, biodiversity loss, and losses of properties and lives.

Moreover, the effects of climate change also include significant decrease in crop productivity due to incidence of new disease strains and unpredictable climate. Consequently, this will intensify socio-economic problems due low income, high price of basic commodities and may ultimately result to civil unrest.

The government is now confronted with great challenges in developing measures and strategies to slow down the effects of climate change. These challenges include the generation of information and development of information systems, intensification of information, education and communication (IEC) campaign, innovation and advancement of environment-friendly technologies, adequate financial support, formulation of effective plans and programs, good legislative agenda, and strong and persistent political will.

The management gaps are as follows: a) institution of measures to mitigate the impacts on the most vulnerable areas on the social, economic and ecological systems, and b) sustainability of food production and people’s livelihood.

Role of DENR and Institutional Framework on National Policy

DENR is the primary government agency responsible for the conservation, management, development and proper use of the country’s environment and natural resources. Its mission is to serve as driving force in the pursuit of sustainable development, enabling the stakeholders’ participation in the protection, conservation and management of environment and natural resources for the present and future generations. DENR is adopting the eco-governance concepts and strategies such as transparency, accountability and participation.

The Research, Development and Extension (RDE) framework of DENR deals on the conduct of vulnerability assessments, carrying capacity determination, rehabilitation of degraded areas, production of good quality planting materials, biomass and carbon sequestration, ecotourism, biosafety/biosecurity and biotechnology, biofuels and alternative source of energy, and effective technology transfer activities.

International experts in climate change recommended the intensification of reforestation of degraded forestlands as one of the measures to sequester carbon from the atmosphere thereby reducing the impacts of climate change.

Moreover, the government, through the DENR, should also consider a policy framework for financing climate change adaptation and mitigation mechanism that will address the following: a) capital build-up of a forestry fund for financing people-based restoration activities that are supportive to social and economic infrastructure; b) administration of forestry fund by DENR with multisectoral Board of Trustee; c) establishment of an efficient fund allocation system; and d) institution of a payback system on fund investments.

Strategies in combating climate change

With the current threats and challenges, there is a dire need to refocus and prioritize research, development and extension activities. There are two ways to address climate change, namely, adaptation and mitigation.

Consequently, the current interests will focus on these two ways. Adaptation is characterized by preparedness, increase resilience, employment of coping mechanisms and capitalizing on opportunities. On the other hand, mitigation refers to action that aims to reduce emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere through emission avoidance or enhancing carbon sinks and sources.

While various initiatives and interventions have been done in line with the improvement of environmental conditions, appropriate mitigation measures to reduce the impacts of climate change may require the generation, application and adoption of methodological and technological innovations. - THE FREEMAN