Fishers assert community rights vs Sy’s conversion project; defy notice to vacate order
Maragondon, Cavite — Members of the national fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) in Brgy. Sta. Mercedes (formerly Brgy. Patungan) in Maragondon, Cavite are collectively defying the order of the order of the Naic Regional Trial Court (RTC) to vacate their community that is being claimed by the certain Maria Theresa Virata (MTV) Corp., a real estate firm that allegedly sold the 602-hecate fishing community to the company of the deceased business tycoon Henry Sy for the expansion of the latter’s Hamilo Coast Beach Resort in its neighboring Nasugbu town in Batangas.
Patungan is a coastal community situated along Mt. Palay-Palay, a mountain range known for its famous highest peak called ‘Pico de Loro’. It is declared by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as a ‘protected landscape’ covering 3, 972 hectares. The lone fishing community in the said mountain range is a home to around 400 fishing and peasant families, whose ancestors were already residents more than a hundred years ago.
PAMALAKAYA said that the ‘struggle of the fisherfolk in Patungan’ started in 2016 when a Writ of Demolition was ordered by the Naic RTC under presiding Judge Lerio C. Castigador. The organized fisherfolk and residents managed to curtail the violent demolition of about hundreds of demolition crew combined with elements of police and military by strongly defending their community.
But since then, PAMALAKAYA said, the community is being surrounded by elements of the Philippine Air Force and private security guard of the MTV Corp.
“Our forefathers were the ones who cultivated and developed these lands more than a hundred years ago to be suitable for residential purpose. There are many historical events happened right exactly at this place. And we can’t just let a private developer to walk in and take it all away from us; we will defend our community, our rights, and our dignity at all cost,” Dolito Tambungon, member of PAMALAKAYA and a resident fisherman in Patungan asserted.
DENR urged to intervene
The group also urged the DENR to intervene on the matter by ‘strictly enforcing its environmental programs’ covering the disputed lands to inhibit any private development firm to convert any protected coastal and land areas into private use.
Pamalakaya cited the existing Coastal Resources Management Program (CRMP) of the DENR in the coastal waters of Patungan which prohibit any private use, and essentially declares its marine resources as protected against any private activities.
The fisherfolk group said it will maintain its ‘defense barricade’ at the entrance of the community and will be prepared to defend their community against the threat of demolition. ###