After violent demolition, fishers were illegally arrested in Mindoro Occidental

After violent demolition, fishers were illegally arrested in Mindoro Occidental

Fishing boats left abandoned as security forces barred fishers from returning to their livelihood

Rizal, Mindoro Occidental – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Friday condemned the Philippine National Police (PNP) for the illegal arrest of ten fisherfolk in Brgy. Salvacion, Rizal, Mindoro Occidental last December 7 after defending their nipa huts from demolition perpetrated by private goons and security guards by a businesswoman named Annaliza-Pojas Lopez.

Citing the report of the local peasant organization Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Kanlurang Mindoro (SAMAKAMI), the fishers who were arrested are Jovanie Gonzales, Joel Gonzales, Lucrecio Ero, Recselita Ero, Epifania Ero, Sante Ero, Ernesto Leido, Enrico Leido, Analicel Pelago and Gina Nidoy. They were released yesterday, December 8 after posting bail. After the arrest, their Nipa huts and fishing gears were burned by the private goons of Lopez. In effect, fishers are unable to return to their livelihood since the violent demolition occurred. They are being deprived of their economic rights as a citizen.

In effect of land title, Annaliza Pojas-Lopez claims the 3, 293 square meter fishing village in Brgy. Salvacion, Rizal, Mindoro Occidental. But the fisherfolk families said they have been living in the community for 50 years and the said land is a declared Marine Zone by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), thus it is exempted to any land titles and privatization. On October 24, 17 fishing households were violently demolished under the order of Lopez, forcing the fisherfolk to leave their houses and build shanties within the fishing community.

The fisherfolk group said this is the second fishing community to be demolished since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed post last June 30. This is part of the government’s national campaign to evict and displace fisherfolk and coastal settlers from the shore to pave way for eco-tourism and government projects. First incident was in Patungan Cove in Maragondon, Cavite where 353 fisherfolk families were illegally and violently attacked by buses of demolition crew guarded by the police and Philippine Air Force to execute the demolition ordered by the Regional Trial Court in Cavite. The said fishing community is a target of Henry Sy-owned Hamilo Coast beach resort extension.

PAMALAKAYA urged President Rodrigo Duterte and PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa to contain their forces from protecting the interests of the land lords and private developers, instead side with the real marginalized and oppressed sectors that are being deprived of their economic and civil rights. PNP should live with its slogan which is “To Serve and Protect” the Filipino people.

Until now, demolished fisherfolk are still barred from going into their fishing grounds as Lopez’s hired goons and security guards fenced the shore. Tensions between the residents and security guards rise by the day. ###

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