PAMALAKAYA wants to hold Chinese ship owner, Zambales local exec accountable over dredging ops
Manila, Philippines — “Regardless of the vessel’s classification, it’s still part of the dredging operations serving as materials carrier. Dredging harms the marine life through excavation of seabed and movement of solid particles, noise pollution, and blurring of water that drive away the fish. Thus, dwindling of fish catch as lamented by the local fishers in the affected coastal town,” According to the national fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Wednesday, responding to the statement of the ship owner that the vessel that ran aground off the coast of Botolan, Zambales last week was not a dredger, but an aggregates carrier ship.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA Vice Chair for Luzon Bobby Roldan said that the MV Zhong Hai 69 Alfa (ZH 69), the ship that beached the coast of Botolan, carries and transports dredged materials from the Bucao River to Botolan’s neighboring coastal town Cabangan, Zambales.
Roldan, a fisherman based in Central Luzon said that the municipal waters of Botolan used to be abundant of fish and other marine resources, and also serve as alternative fishing grounds of fisherfolks who are unable to go farther due to presence of Chinese vessels and Coast Guard in Scarborough Shoal.
“Sagana sa huling isda ang dagat ng Botolan bago pa nag-umpisa ang dredging. Nang simulan nang hukayin ang dagat, nabulabog at lumayo ang mga isda. Problema ngayon dahil hindi makalabas ng municipal waters ang mga mangingisda dahil malalaking barko naman ng China ang sasalubong sakanila pagdating sa Scarborough Shoal,” Roldan lamented.
For his part, Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said that aside from the company that is carrying out the dredging, the provincial government of Zambales under Governor Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr. is also “liable” for granting permit to the operation that “clearly compromised the marine ecology”.
“It seems that the dredging operations did not follow the proper guidelines nor secure environmental clearances. As reports from the ground said that fish catch dwindled since the dredging began on their fishing grounds. The provincial government of Zambales should be held accountable for consenting to such destructive activity at the expense of our marine environment and livelihood of our fishers,” ended Hicap. ###