Fisherfolk staged “fishing strike” against Navotas reclamation
Manila, Philippines – “We call on to stop the 650-hectare reclamation project in the city of Navotas that will phase-out more than 20,000 fishermen and coastal settlers in the country’s fishing capital,”
This was the call of the Navotas fishermen under the banner of the group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Tuesday at their fluvial protest action in Manila Bay, dubbed as fishing strike against reclamation.
The fisherfolk rode in more than 25 fishing boats while roaming from Barangay Tangos to Navotas Centennial Park where the fences and markers are being installed in preparation to the reclamation project, known as the Navotas Boulevard Business Park (NBBP).
The NBBP is a 650-hectare reclamation project approved by city Mayor John Rey Tianco intended for commercial and mixed use. More than 20,000 Navotas fishermen are expected to be displaced if the project pushes through.
The fisherfolk group likened their fate under the reclamation project to hundreds of thousands of Jeepney drivers if government’s Jeepney phase-out program nationwide will proceed.
“Like our Jeepney drivers who will lose livelihood due to Jeepney phase-out, the Navotas reclamation would effectively phase-out thousands of fisherfolk and urban poor from their livelihood and community in the name of government’s pseudo-development project. Ever since, reclamation projects are far from the interest of the fisherfolk but a detrimental to their livelihood and moreover to the delicate marine environment,”
“Since the reclamation projects have become the government and private sector’s business trend, it has already displaced not less than 100,000 coastal settlers in exchange for eco-tourism, commercial business districts, and even government projects,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said during the fluvial protest.
The fishermen said reclamation also poses serious threat to marine resources due to destruction of mangroves, seabed, and coral reefs that affects marine productivity.
The group blames the shrinking of mangrove areas in Manila Bay to reclamation and conversion projects, saying from decades ago since 1995 mangrove areas in Manila Bay used to size 54,000 hectares significantly shrank to 2,000 hectares and at present, a diminutive less-than-a-500-hectare is left.
“We will not let them destroy the remaining mangroves left in Manila Bay. We assert our right to fishing grounds and genuine rehabilitation of Manila Bay through mangrove-installation instead of destructive reclamation,”
“Above this, we call for the scrapping of the National Reclamation Plan which contains more than 100 reclamation projects throughout the archipelago,” ended Hicap.
The fluvial protest is part of pre-activities for the National Peasant Caravan for Land and Against Fascism that will take place in major regions and provinces and will lead to the national protest on October 25 in Mendiola, Manila. ###