January 14, 2019
Fishers urged DENR to declare Manila Bay a ‘reclamation-free zone’
Manila, Philippines – The activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Monday urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to perform its mandate in protecting the environment, including the Manila Bay by declaring it as a reclamation-free zone. This, the group added, is to effectively rehabilitate one of the country’s major fishing grounds which currently suffer from environmental degradation stage caused by past and present privatization projects.
The fisherfolk group earlier lambasted the DENR for using the issue of pollution to demolish hundreds of thousands of residents, mostly fisherfolk and pave way for large-scale land reclamation projects. PAMALAKAYA casts doubt on the seriousness of the DENR to rehabilitate Manila Bay, when the said agency has keep on facilitating processes of reclamation, including providing environmental permits to proponents and private developers.
“Just last week, one of our municipal chapters had acquired a notice of public scoping from the DENR to facilitate the proposal of a local government unit to reclaim 420 hectares of Manila Bay in the part of Bacoor, Cavite. While environment secretary Roy Cimatu blames Manila Bay residents of disposing garbage and domestic wastes in the sea, he failed to address on the other hand the lethal risk of massive reclamation projects to the marine environment and ecosystem. Reclamation has caused the traditional fish and shellfish species in Manila Bay to get extinct because coral reefs and mangrove forests have been destroyed to give way to commercial business districts and private establishments which only benefit giant businesses,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
Citing the fishers’ experience in the construction of the Central Business Park in Roxas Boulevard in the late 90s, Hicap said at least 30, 000 fishing and urban poor families were displaced to construct the SM Mall of Asia, Solaire Resort and Casino, and other private and government establishments situated along the Roxas Boulevard in Metro Manila.
Hicap, who is a fisherman in Manila Bay, said that one of the long term effects of reclamation projects is the dwindling of fish catch which drops to 2-5 kilos every fishing trip.
“Let’s not forget that aside from the environmental-effect of reclamation, it also poses grave threat to the socio-economic rights of the fishing sector who subsists in Manila Bay by fishing. Hundreds of thousands of fisherfolk and urban poor families are now facing the threat of demolition courtesy of the government’s corporate-sellout of Manila Bay under the guise of a clean-up drive. We demand the DENR to cease and desist from granting environmental permits to any project that threatens the environment and rights of the fisherfolk. The government should instead promote a genuine rehabilitation program that will not violate the community rights of the fisherfolk and coastal settlers and will restore the traditional use of Manila Bay as a fishing ground,” ended Hicap. ###