Fishers, environmentalists declare war against ‘Great Wall of Leyte’

Fishers, environmentalists declare war against ‘Great Wall of Leyte’

Yolanda survivors under People Surge staged a protest at DENR

Manila, Philippines – The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas), People Surge, an alliance of Yolanda survivors based in Tacloban City, and environmental group Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC) are gearing for a total war against the national government’s ambitious plan to build anti-storm surge wall along the towns of Tacloban City, Palo and Tanauan, Leyte known as the 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.

In Tacloban City alone, 10,000 coastal households face impending eviction to pave way for the project based on the Tacloban North Integrate Development Plan. Many of the communities that are directly affected are still waiting for adequate rehabilitation and economic aid three years after the super-typhoon Yolanda struck the country.

In response to the project, hundreds of Yolanda survivors from different province of Visayas held a people’s caravan in Manila on November to December 10 to protest the government’s slow response on the clamor of typhoon victims and the government projects that exacerbate their sufferings as victims of the natural calamity including the TEP. People Surge, PAMALAKAYA and CEC staged protest dialogue in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Environment and Natural Resource (DENR), both implementing agencies of the project to present the devastating effects of TEP on social, economic and environment.

The series of protests is a declaration of war against this grand massacre of coastal communities in Visayas and the collective rights of the fisherfolk. We decry this sell-out of our coastal area. This is not rehabilitation, but a grandiose murder that would facilitate demolition and displacement,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.

PAMALAKAYA said TEP would prevent small-fishers and other coastal settlers from pursuing their fishing activities and housing rights along coastal communities because areas covered by the project would be declared as off-limits from any settlers and even small businesses. But People Surge found out that big establishments such as The Oriental Leyte will be exempted from the embankment alignment.

Building walls along the coasts is not the solution to protect the fisherfolk and the people from the onslaught and aftermath of natural disasters. As long as government’s systematic ineffectiveness and neglect of its people continue, we would always have a hard time in recovering from future disasters and calamities. Why not invest in a long-term solution and calamity preparedness like allotting the P7.9B budget to build a resilient evacuation centers that could provide safe haven for the people during typhoons,” Hicap said.

PAMALAKAYA, CEC and People Surge vow to launch non-stop intensified protest actions, forums and activities in the commencement of the year 2017 against the TEP until the monstrous project would be completely terminated. ###

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