“Cimatu, silent on Manila Bay reclamation, wants to oversee Cebu City’s pandemic response” – PAMALAKAYA

“Cimatu, silent on Manila Bay reclamation, wants to oversee Cebu City’s pandemic response” – PAMALAKAYA

Manila, Philippines — As a response to the designation of environment chief Roy Cimatu as the deputy implementer of the government’s pandemic response in the Visayas, the militant fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Tuesday reminded the former military general on his “unfulfilled” job to rehabilitate the Manila Bay, and protect its marine resources against reclamation projects.

“The health safety of people in Cebu City that has the highest cases of coronavirus is important to be addressed, but it lies on the functions of health officials and pharmaceutical interventions, and distant to the environment chief who is seen by various environmental organizations as ‘missing in action’ (MIA) against projects that destroy the environment and biodiversity,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

The fisherfolk group said Secretary Cimatu should instead closely monitor the state of the Philippine environment which is currently threatened by destructive projects such as reclamation, mining, construction of mega dams, among others.

PAMALAKAYA chided the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for granting environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to the 320-hectare reclamation project in Manila Bay covering the municipal waters of Bacoor City, Cavite. The group said the project, which was proposed by the city Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla and Frabelle Fishing Corp., threatens at least 700 fishing and urban poor families in the town with displacement.

“He is missing-in-action against the reclamation projects in Manila Bay; now he wants to get involved in an issue that does not concern his mandate,” the fisherfolk leader added.

On November last year, PAMALAKAYA and fishermen from Cavite formally submitted their letter of complaint to Cimatu’s office against reclamation project in Cavite such as the Chinese POGO project in Kawit, the Sangley International Airport in Cavite City, and the Revilla-sponsored Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project. The fishers group has yet to receive any formal reply from the DENR.

“These projects are all conflicting to Cimatu’s very own Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program, and now he wants to busy himself in the government’s approach to the pandemic. It appears that President Duterte is not confident with officials from the mandated department to pull out someone who is dozing off from his supposed tasks on environmental protection,” Hicap, former Anakpawis Party-list solon added.

“If Secretary Cimatu wants to get himself useful on this public health crisis, he should ensure that the Manila Bay is protected from any reclamation project and its fisherfolks who are considered as food security frontliners should not be displaced from their communities and livelihood,” Hicap ended. ###

DENR has yet to act on fisherfolk’ complaints against Manila Bay reclamation projects.
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