Fishers hold Climate Strike; seek Duterte’s ‘climate action’
Manila, Philippines – “Fishers are expert swimmers, but we refuse submersion of our communities caused by the rising sea level. If seas are rising, so are we!” This was the battle cry of small fisherfolk who belong to the group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) during their Climate Strike held at Mendiola, Manila on Monday.
Dubbed as ‘Ahon Mangingisda’, it is a counterpart initiative of the Filipino fisherfolk and coastal population to the global climate strikes demanding governments for climate action and justice.
PAMALAKAYA raised alarm with the recent study of the U.S.-based science research organization Climate Central that within 30 years, around 8 million residents in Metro Manila would likely be submerged by the projected sea rise of about 2-7 feet, and possibly more.
“The forecast of rising sea levels spells disaster for the Philippines, which is composed of more than 7, 100 islands and which 60% of total population is either directly dependent on the coastal geography for livelihood or residing in coastal areas. The fisherfolk would be at the front-line casualties of this looming ecological disaster, thus, we are demanding the Duterte government to address this with urgency and decisively by halting environmentally critical projects that would aggravate the impacts of climate change,” Salvador France, PAMALAKAYA Secretary General said during the protest at Mendiola.
The fisherfolk leader warned that ‘there is no need to wait for 3 decades for the ‘great flood’ to happen because land reclamation projects across Manila Bay would expedite the submersion of its communities’.
“Reclamation will inundate Metro Manila and communities surrounding Manila Bay. Our challenge to Duterte is to formally declare reclamation as illegal in the name of preserving the marine ecosystem and protecting millions of people from dislocation,” France added, referring to the pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte that there would be no reclamation within his term.
For its part, the alliance Koalisyon Kontra-Kumbersyon at Reklamasyon (KKKR), which also joined the Climate Strike, said that the reclamation projects along the Manila Bay ‘will not only affect the integrity of the Philippine marine and coastal ecosystems, but would also result to massive dislocation of fisherfolk communities and make them more vulnerable to the devastating impacts of climate change’. After joining the Climate Strike in Mendiola, the alliance headed to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) central office to demand the agency to ‘reject all reclamation projects and recognize Manila Bay as communal waters and its shores as coastal communities’.
PAMALAKAYA said that the whole-year Climate Strike campaign would be sustained by various mass actions, educational discussions, and engagements of various government agencies and stakeholders.
“As people’s movements around the world are stepping up to curb the climate breakdown, we fisherfolk, as a highly-vulnerable sector, are joining in,” ended France. ###