Fisherfolk to DENR: Enforce environmental-protection policies against coastal-conversion projects

Fisherfolk to DENR: Enforce environmental-protection policies against coastal-

DENR Secretary Gina Lopez | Photo by

conversion projects

Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to enforce its laws protecting the environment on the coastal communities that are under the threat of conversion and reclamation from private entities and corporations.

DENR’s policies and programs like National Greening Program (NGP) and Coastal Resource Management Program (CRMP) by essence prohibit any private entities to own and privatized the land and coastal waters categorized as protected areas by the environment agency. The CRMP, through its salvaged zones allot the 20 meter-land from the shoreline as an open access for all.

An existing example of coastal areas with CRMP declaration is in Brgy. Sta. Mercedes (then Patungan) in Maragondon, Cavite. Patungan which is a home to 353 families, mostly fisherfolk are facing looming threat of demolition perpetrated by the Maria Theresa Virata (MTV) Corp., a real estate firm that claims and allegedly sold the 602-hectare fishing community to Henry Sy who wants to make Patungan as an extension of the latter’s Hamilo Coast Beach Resort in its neighbor province of Nasugbu, Batangas.

According to the DENR Region IV-A during a consultation with Pamalakaya officials and Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel Casilao, they themselves can’t even access their own declared protected areas since the Virata claimed Patungan on 2012.

Patungan is situated along Mt. Palay-Palay, a known-mountain range which is declared by the DENR as a ‘protected landscape’ covering its 3,972 hectares. Pamalakaya questioned the DENR Regional Director Rey Juan on the consultation why private developers have managed to put up a ‘no trespassing’ sign and barbed wires along the declared protected mountain.

The residents who have planted crops in the mountain are prevented to harvest their crops by the private security guards who are stationed in the area. Local residents were charged with trespassing and illegal entry when they go and try to harvest their crops,” Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya Chairperson said in a statement.

Now is the time for DENR to enforce its duties and policies by protecting our marine resources that are under the threat of development aggression courtesy of greedy developers who want to make profit at the expense of environment preservation and economic and political rights of the people,” Hicap added.

Pamalakaya together with the fisherfolk from different provinces including Brgy. Patungan will hold a dialogue with the DENR Secretary on October 7 to present issues concerning the environment and livelihood of the fisherfolk. ###

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