Fisherfolk staged Manila Bay-wide fluvial protest vs Nat’l Reclamation Plan
Manila, Philippines – On the occasion of World Fisheries Day (WFD), fisherfolk under the group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) from Navotas City, Bacoor Cavite, and Bulacan staged Manila Bay-wide fluvial protest riding around 50 motorized fishing boats to call for the scrapping of reclamation projects under the National Reclamation Plan (NRP).
The fluvial parade converged in Baywalk Manila where the fisherfolk and their supporters gathered in a solidarity lunch showcasing the aquatic products of Manila Bay that are at stake if all reclamation projects push through.
In Manila Bay alone, the fisherfolk group recorded at least 42 reclamation projects covering 29,929 hectares of the gulf under the NRP. The reclamation program was approved by then-President Noynoy Aquino and continued by President Rodrigo Duterte now under the banner of the Build, Build, Build program. According to the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), they target to complete 80 of the 102 reclamation projects under the NRP within the six-year term of President Duterte.
The group said reclamation projects in Manila Bay would entail massive displacement of fishing communities and urban poor situated along the gulf. It would also completely destroy the ecosystem of Manila Bay which is already degrading due to past reclamation projects and other corporate aggression under the guise of “development”.
“The government is fast converting the country’s productive fishing grounds into commercial districts and high-end recreational establishments at the expense of the livelihood and community rights of millions of fisherfolk and poor families in Manila Bay. Thousands of fishing families in Metro Manila are under the threat of eviction to pave way for the likes of SM Mall of Asia and Solaire Resort and Casino,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said, referring to the construction of SM Mall of Asia and Central Business District in Roxas Boulevard on 2004 that displaced more than 30,000 fisherfolk and urban poor settlers.
Among the approved reclamation projects in Manila Bay are the extension of the Manila Harbour Center which involves 50 hectares of fishing waters, the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA) which involves 1,600 hectares, the 1,435-hectare Las Pinas-Bacoor Road Widening Project, the 419-hectare Horizon Manila Project, and the 650-hectare Navotas Boulevard Business Park (NBBP).
The group refutes the legality of any reclamation project saying it violates the Section 27 of the Water Code of the Philippines which “prohibits construction on navigable or floatable waterways”, thus, making the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and all its reclamation projects illegal.
“We gather today to assert our right to our fishing waters and call for the scrapping of the National Reclamation Plan. It is not too late to rehabilitate and bring back the natural ecosystem of Manila Bay; instead of spending billions on floating commercial and business districts, why not revive and develop the destroyed mangroves and corals of Manila Bay to let marine species thrive,” ended Hicap.
Fisherfolk from Caraga Region in Mindanao also staged a fluvial protest in time of the World Fisheries Day. ###