Group to challenge legality of Aquino’s plan to declare coastal areas as ‘no-build zones’

DESPITE the danger, some fishermen in coastal towns in Eastern Visayas are not about to just leave their homes to transfer to safer ground.

The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya (Pamalakaya) said the group, along with members and supporters of their local chapter in Eastern Visayas will challenge the legality of a soon-to-be issued executive order of Malacañang declaring the country’s coastlines as “off-limit zones” or “no-build zones.”

“Definitely the fight against the President’s proposal to rid fishing villages of small fishermen and coastal folk and contain them to small area known as fishing resettlement area is tantamount to a crime against humanity,” Pamalakaya Vice Chairman Salvador France said in a statement.

He said their group will go to the Supreme Court to challenge the constitutionality of declaring coastal areas as no-build zones, which will cause the economic dislocation of small fishermen in Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Negros, Northern Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Guimaras, Northern Cebu, Palawan and Mindoro provinces.

France said the draft Palace executive order (EO) currently being worked out will remove over 9 million people, or about 10 percent of the country’s population from coastal villages nationwide.

“Once signed by the President, it will legalize the removal and demolition of fishing villages. “The EO on fish settlement is an open declaration of war against the Filipino fishing community,” he said.

In justifying his EO, Mr. Aquino said Filipinos should learn from painful lessons of Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan), as well as tropical storms Sendong and Pablo.

President Aquino said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has identified many areas in the country as “danger zones” based on the geohazard mapping of the DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau. These areas, Mr. Aquino said, should be kept cleared.

The official death toll of Yolanda reached 5,632 as of Saturday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.

Retrieval operations in various parts of Eastern and Western Visayas ravaged by the typhoon are still ongoing.

The super typhoon that made six landfalls within a span of 12 hours in Eastern and Western Visayas on November 8 also triggered storm surges that flattened coastal areas in Eastern Visayas.

Pamalakaya, and its chapters—Pamalakaya-Eastern Visayas, Pamalakaya-Negros, Pamalakaya-Panay and Guimaras, Pamalakaya-Cebu and Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog—France said, will lead the filing of petition questioning the EO’s constitutionality before SC.

The group said it will also solicit support from non-governmental organizations like the Visayas-based Fisheries and Marine Environmental Research Institute and the Fisherfolk Development Center in questioning the legality of the no-build zones before the Court.

Prior to the super typhoon’s devastation, the situation of the people in Eastern Visayas, the most devastated region is deplorable, Pamalakaya said. Region 8 which compromises the provinces of Samar and Leyte ranks as the third poorest region in the Philippines as of 2013.  Western Visayas, another typhoon area that include Negros, Panay and Guimaras islands, has a poverty incidence of 24.7 percent and unemployment rate of 27.8 percent.

Source: Business Mirror

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