PAMALAKAYA lodges Ombudsman complaint vs. Bacoor City Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla over violations of environmental and fishing laws
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Monday submitted a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against Bacoor City Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla over violations of environmental and fishing laws through reclamation of fishponds adjacent to Manila Bay. The group asserted that this is connected to the local executive’s pushing of reclamation projects that threatens to displace at least 700 fisherfolk families.
“We send this letter of collective complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman against the pushing of the reclamation projects covering 420 hectares of Manila Bay,” the complaint, which was submitted by members of PAMALAKAYA in Bacoor City, Cavite said.
The reclamation projects involve the 320-hectare Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project, and the 100-hectare Diamond Reclamation and Development Project.
Born as Jesusa Victoria Garcia Hernandez and the wife of 16-counts-of-graft-accused Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Bacoor City Mayor Lani “Ate Lani” Mercado-Revilla has been pushing as main proponent of the reclamation projects amid the strong opposition of the fisherfolk and coastal residents whom PAMALAKAYA claimed would be displaced from their communities and livelihood.
“She projects herself as ‘ate,’ but she is pushing for the displacement of her constituents. She makes the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program of the Duterte government a sham. She should have been coordinating with the Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to develop the fishing industry of her city, but she is on the opposite and destructive path of reclamation,” Fernando Hicap, National Chairperson of PAMALAKAYA and a former representative of Anakpawis Party-list during the 16th Congress when the Mayor was also a member of the House, said during the protest outside the Office of the Ombudsman.
Various environmental laws and programs were used as bases of the complaint, including the 2008-Supreme Court Mandamus to ‘clean-up, restore, and rehabilitate’ Manila Bay, the Administrative Order No. 16 expediting the rehabilitation and restoration of Manila Bay and the creation of its task force signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last year, and the Manila Bay rehabilitation program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The fisherfolk and coastal residents are complaining about the ongoing reclamation of fishponds and mangroves adjacent to Manila Bay located in barangays Maliksi I and Maliksi III, involving equipment from the local government unit (LGU), but the complainants said the activities are without signages of project details.
“It is dump-filling the fishponds with solid materials mixed with garbage and is threatening to destroy the remaining mangrove forests in the coastal town,” the complaint read.
The complainants doubt the process of the dump-filling activities as no public consultation or information dissemination on the name of the projects, its implementing office, completion period and the amount of public funds used were carried out.
The fisherfolk also questioned the legality of the reclamation of the mangroves and fishponds as “Public lands such as tidal swamps, mangroves, marshes, foreshore lands and ponds suitable for fishery operations shall not be disposed or alienated” as stated in the Republic Act 8550 or the Fisheries Code of 1998.
“In pursuance of genuine rehabilitation of Manila Bay and upholding the socio-economic rights of the small fisherfolk and coastal residents of Bacoor City, we are submitting this complaint and are optimistic that the august Office of the Ombudsman will serve as a staunch defender of the environment, as well as champion of the wisdom of the 2008 Supreme Court mandamus against the profit-driven and anti-people development projects being pushed by the Bacoor LGU under the leadership of Mayor Revilla,” the complaint concluded.
PAMALAKAYA vows to “contest and stop these environmentally and fishery devastating projects in Bacoor City and in the entire Manila Bay in the parliament of the streets, in any appropriate court or forum and in the court of public opinion”. ###