Fishermen seek probe on Batangas demolition

THE Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Monday called for a thorough investigation on the alleged violent demolition of 264 shanties in Sitio Balacbacan, Barangay Laiya, San Juan, Batangas, on July 3.

The demolition, which rendered 600 families living at the coastal area homeless, also deprived fishermen their source of income, as they are prevented from fishing in the area.

The fishermen, Pamalakaya said, continue to experience harassment and intimidation.

According to the group, the demolition was allegedly ordered by real-estate developer Federico Campos III.  He is the owner of Laiya Development Corp. and Macaria Development Corp. which aims to convert the land of Barangay Laiya from productive fishing to ecotourism purpose, Pamalakaya Secretary General Romy Antazo said.

Laiya boasts of white-sand beaches and is considered a potential tourist destination in Batangas.

The fishermen said that Campos is claiming ownership of a vast tract of land in the barangay and plans to develop a resort along its coasts.

According to Antazo, contrary to Campos’s claim, the land is actually inhabited and has been developed by fishermen for

“There’s no way that this Campos has the right to own the land.” Antazo said.

Haligi ng Batangueñong Anakdagat (Habagat), Pamalakaya’s local chapter, said that after those whose houses were demolished are being denied to go back to their fishing grounds.

“First they destroyed our houses and now they deprive us from our only source of livelihood. We contribute significantly to the fishing industry on the province of Batangas but we don’t see any immediate reaction from the local government since the violent incident happened.” Habagat Laiya Vice Chairman Elsie Lucero said.

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