Batangas fishers staged collective cultivation in response to demolition and recent harassment
San Juan, Batangas – Three years after being demolished from their community, hundreds of fisherfolk under the Haligi ng Batanguenong Anakdagat (HABAGAT) staged collective cultivation in Brgy. Laiya Aplaya, San Juan, Batangas as a form of unity and assertion to their right to land, shelter and livelihood. HABAGAT is the provincial chapter of the national alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) in Batangas.
In July 2014, about 600 fishing and peasant families were demolished to pave way for pseudo-development project known as the Laiya Tourism Development Plan or beach resort project. The fisherfolk in response set up barricades along the road to show that they will not leave their community.
“After three years of being ejected from our community, we are being subjected to various human rights violations and harassment including heavy militarization and intimidation in order for us to completely abandon the area,” Lino Baes, Spokesperson of HABAGAT said in a statement.
In the aftermath of demolition, elements of the 730th Combat Group Philippine Air Force (CGPAF) were deployed in the community since May 2015. Aside from the existing detachment of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) of the 59th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, there is another threat of military encampment by the 730th CGPAF to provide protection to private businesses, landlords, developers, and corporations who convert the fishing community to eco-tourism zones. In addition to this, the Macaria Development Corporation and Laiya Development Corporation, primarily owned by Federico Campos III and Victorino delos Angeles, hired private security forces and private goons to sow violence and fear against the people and to try destroy the people’s barricade against the illegal development in the community.
Since February 2017, series of violent dispersals ensued in Laiya Aplaya until last July 3, the goons and security forces hired by the Laiya Development Corp. staged indiscriminate firing resulting to wounded casualties among the encamped fisherfolk.
However, despite the violent dispersal and presence of militaries, the farmers and fisherfolk continue their protest camp and barricade to show their collective resistance against the development aggression project in their community.
In 2012, the conversion order and development permit for the property wherein the people have been ejected have already lapsed. A petition signed by the residents to totally revoke the conversion order was already filed before the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
“The solidarity cultivation of farmers and fisherfolk is to take back what is rightfully ours. We have been deprived of our basic rights for years now in exchange for exclusive beach resort owned by rich developers. We will continue strengthening our ranks in order to regain our control to our fishing community and to be able to return to our livelihood,” ended Baes. ###