Fisherfolk, Yolanda victims staged protest vs ‘Great Wall of Leyte’
Manila, Philippines – The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) and Yolanda victims under the People Surge, an alliance of the disaster survivors staged a protest at the central office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) on Thursday to demand the suspension of the Tacloban-Palo-Tanauan Tide Embankment Project (TEP).
The TEP (also known as ‘The Great Wall of Leyte’) which costs 7.9 billion pesos is a long stretch of seawall from Tacloban to the town of Tanauan, Leyte, touted to protect people from storm surges. Of the 27.3 kilometers length of the embankment, 20.1 km. are in Tacloban, 4.1 km. will cover Palo and 3.1 km. in Tanauan. It shall have a height of about 4.5 meters and its center line said to stand 30 meters from the seashore.
According to People Surge, more than 14,000 households, majority are fisherfolk will be demolished for the completion of the embankment project. In Palo, Leyte, several residents have already started to self-demolish as ordered by the DPWH in exchange for little compensation based on assessed value.
“How could this project protect the people from storm surges if it will demolish and remove those people out of their community? TEP is worse than storm surge because it will effectively wipe out all fishing activities and displace coastal settlers all over Eastern Visayas and other Yolanda-stricken areas,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The fisherfolk group fears that this mega project would facilitate the privatization of coastal areas to pave way for private businesses and money-making ventures of the rich.
Pamalakaya and People Surge said the DPWH should instead rechannel the P7.9-B to a resilient and safe evacuation centers built within the community that can provide a safe haven for the residents in times of calamity.
“Yolanda-victims have yet to recover from its devastated impact, previous Aquino administration has further the suffering of the typhoon victims courtesy of its incompetence, systematic corruption and neglect of duty. Now the Yolanda-victims are facing widespread displacement under the guise of rehabilitation as a government’s response to their clamor. This mega project will deprive the people of their economic and social rights,” Hicap said.
Hundreds of survivors of the super-typhoon Yolanda under the People Surge gather in Metro Manila for the Lakbayan Laban sa Kagutuman at Militarisasyon (Caravan against Hunger and Militarization).
Bearing the theme ‘Tindog Visayas’ (Rise Up Visayas), the Visayas-wide protest caravan aims to raise the persisting crises of hunger, landlessness, and militarization before Malacanang Palace and other national offices of various government agencies. Tindog Visayas will culminate in the big rallies commemorating International Human Rights Day on December 10. ###