Environmental group seeks justice in death of Bicolana anti-illegal fishing activist

Commercial vessels apprehended by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for fishing illegally in Bicol waters. Photo courtesy: The Examiner
Commercial vessels apprehended by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for fishing illegally in Bicol waters. Photo courtesy: The Examiner

LEGAZPI CITY, 17Aug2015 — The country’s active environmental organizations are seeking immediate justice in the killing of an anti-illegal fishing advocate inside their home in Barangay Bongalonan, Sagñay, Camarines Sur on July 29.

The WWF Philippines, Save Philippine Seas, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines, Oceana Philippines, NGOs for Fisheries Reform, Bicol Consortium for Development Initiatives Inc., Greenpeace Philippines, Tambuyog Development Center Inc., Pangisda Pilipinas, PKSK (National Union of Rural- Based Organizations and RARE Philippines also strongly condemned the killing of Gerlie Menchie Alpajora, who was brutally slain while sleeping beside her two minor children.

Vince Cinches, Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines oceans campaigner, said the Network of Conservation Organizations and all the sustainable fisheries advocates were greatly shocked, angered and grieved upon learning of the tragic death of their conservation ally, Alpajora.

“After careful analysis of the circumstances, the killing of Gerlie Menchie Alpajora has a great connection with her work, particularly her advocacy against illegal fishing in her place,” Cinches said, citing the police investigation report.

He said the authorities believe that the killing of Alpajora is connected to her advocacy to fight illegal fishing in Sagñay.

“We strongly condemn the murder of an advocate who stood up for her, her children’s and the local community’s rights and the future of the fishing industry, as part of her role as the secretary of the Sagñay Tuna Fishers Association organized by WWF-Philippines,” the environmental groups said.

“We demand an immediate action from our authorities to give justice to Gerlie and the Alpajora family. We urged all concerned agencies to intensify and expedite the investigation process and the filing of appropriate cases,” the groups demanded the authorities in Camarines Sur.

Prior to the killing, Alpajora had been receiving threats, unfortunately these were not taken seriously.

“This tragedy reminds us all that the fight to combat Illegal, Unregistered and Unreported (IUU) Fishing is serious, absolutely necessary but can be life-threatening. We reiterate the call for stakeholders to work together to protect our declining fish stocks, their habitats and our stewards. This clearly demonstrates that the illegal fishers are desperate, not only killing the fishery resources but also the people fighting so hard to protect them,” the environmental groups stated.

They said Alpajora is a true hero of the environment who dedicated her precious life to continue the fight to restore the abundance of the seas.

“She is, indeed, a true hero of the environment. We will not allow Ms. Alpajora’s sacrifice to be for naught. Threats to our seas continue to mount and we call for an increased visibility of our law enforcers in the protection of our vastly threatened resources, our people and our planet. This is not just for us but for our children who deserve a better tomorrow,” Cinches said. (PNA)


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