January 18, 2019
Manila Bay fishers protested Manila Bay reclamation disguised as ‘rehabilitation’
Manila, Philippines – Manila Bay fishers under the group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Friday trooped the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) head office to protest the pseudo-rehabilitation of Manila Bay that includes demolition of at least 300, 000 fisherfolk and settlers.
PAMALAKAYA, along with the residents of Manila Bay and environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment urged environment secretary Roy Cimatu to craft a genuine rehabilitation program that will restore Manila Bay back to its traditional use as fishing grounds, and not to further transform it into a vast commercial and tourism hub at the expense of its marine ecosystem and hundreds of thousands of population residing around it.
“Manila Bay is deteriorating, don’t get us wrong. We are the ones who suffer from the effects of its environmental degradation on a regular fishing basis. But wiping us out from Manila Bay to give way for its further privatization will do more harm to its ecosystem than good. Ever since that reclamation and conversion have become the government and corporate craze, massive mangrove forests have been uprooted and productive coral reefs were destroyed. Fish catch has dramatically declined to 2-5 kilos every fishing trip,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson and a fisherman in Manila Bay lamented during the protest.
The fisherfolk group said there are exactly 43 reclamation projects approved and pending throughout the Manila Bay covering 32, 429.56 hectares of its waters.
“32,000-hectare of land reclamation is no joke; it is like placing eight 4,000-hectare-mainland-of-Manila in the waters of Manila Bay,” added Hicap.
The fisherfolk group clarified that they are not against rehabilitation if it will undergo holistic and scientific process such as reviving the destroyed mangrove forests, seagrasses, and coral reefs that act as fish sanctuaries and pollution filters.
“If the DENR will pursue with its plan to demolish us while granting reclamation projects with environmental permits and area clearances, then we are ever ready to expose and resist this corporate-sellout of our traditional fishing grounds at all cost,” ended Hicap. ###