Fisherfolk trooped DENR to protest gov’t’s “grand sellout” of Ph waters
Manila, Philippines – The progressive fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Wednesday trooped the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to protest the national “clean-up” campaign of the country’s top tourist spots such as the Boracay Island, Panglao Island in Bohol, Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro, and Coron, Palawan.
The group said the clean-up drive is actually to facilitate, attract, and open doors to foreign investors, especially those coming from China who are seeking multi-billion dollar investment ventures in the country. In Boracay, a local developer Leisure & Resorts World Corporation (LRWC) has already bought 23-hectare property in the island for the $300-M to $500-M integrated casino resort in partnership with the Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment Group.
While in Coron Island, Palawan, a group of Chinese magnates is eyeing to invest aquaculture farms for high-value species of groupers (Lapu-lapu). DENR has declared that Coron’s waters are already contaminated with bacteria coming from both domestic and infrastructure wastes. They admit that the clean-up drive includes displacement of informal settlers and removal of illegal structures situated within the 3-meter easement zone of the bay.
A likewise trend, the local government of Panglao Island in Bohol which is the government’s next target for clearing up has also welcomed Chinese investments in agriculture, tourism, and technology.
“This is the sum of all our fears; Duterte’s ‘clean-up drive’ is a farce. He is using the rehabilitation issue as a façade to sell-out national patrimony, such as our marine resources and coastal territories to foreign interests at the cost of the fishing rights of the Filipino people. Duterte’s gross puppetry and surrender of our patrimony to foreign powers must be opposed, with him held accountable,” Hicap, also former solon of Anakpawis Party-list added.
The former solon is wary on former military official and now DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu as being one of the main in-charge of the campaign, saying the environment chief is not trustworthy to hold such duty involving negotiations from big businesses.
“Something is fishy with Cimatu’s eagerness on this campaign; it seems that the former military general is seeking “pabaon”-type bribe anew. He has no moral ascendancy to collaborate with big businesses without surrendering public interest, more so, our patrimonial rights,” Hicap, referring to the “pabaon” or send-off money upon Cimatu’s retirement from the active service in 2002.
Pamalakaya asserted that replacing small structures in Boracay and other beach resorts with giant ones will result to bigger pollution and environmental catastrophe, as foreign capitalists would be more inconsiderate in exploiting our resources as long as they generate huge profit.
“We reiterate our position that we do not object the rehabilitation of Boracay and other tourist islands that are already degraded due to intensive commercialization; what we are opposing is the total sell-out of our marine resources to foreign plunderers especially to China who is a tried and tested destroyer of our seas,” said Hicap.
The fisherfolk group said the government must provide livelihood assistance to regular workers affected in the crackdown. The group also said that it would be better to maintain those islands as major fishing grounds for the Filipino fisherfolk to ensure the local food security and sustainable livelihood of the Filipino people. ###