MANILA, Philippines – A soon-to-be-released Palace executive order declaring the country’s coastlines as off-limit zones even to small fisherfolk and coastal residents is being opposed by a militant fisherfolk group, worried it might be used as “a legal instrument to demolish coastal communities.”
Local chapters of Pamalakaya are contemplating to challenge the constitutionality of the impending EO. “Definitely the fight against the President’s proposal to rid fishing villages of small fishermen and coastal folks and contain them to small area known as fishing resettlement area is tantamount to a crime against humanity. We will question this bizarre idea and hair-splitting agenda before the Supreme Court or any in other venue,” the group said.
In a statement late Saturday night, Pamalakaya argued the immediate victims of the proposal to remove fisherfolk from their main source of livelihood and communities are the victims of typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Negros, Northern Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Guimaras, Northern Cebu, Palawan and Mindoro provinces.
The group said the draft Palace EO currently being worked out is billed as “Adopting fisherfolk shelter for stewards as a national strategy to ensure safe and decent settlement in coastal communities and establishing supporting mechanisms for its implementation.”
The EO has a potential to displace 9 million fishermen and coastal people or about 10 percent of the country’s population. “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,” the group said.
In justifying his EO, the President was earlier reported saying Filipinos should learn from the painful lessons of Yolanda, as well as tropical storms “Sendong” and typhoon “Pablo”. President Aquino said many areas in the country had been marked “danger zones” based on the geo-hazard mapping of DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau which should be kept cleared.