Fishers hold “Jogging and Biking vs Dolomite Dumping” protest; call to stop the project
Manila, Philippines — Militant fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) held a “Jogging and Biking vs Dolomite Dumping” protest at Manila Baywalk in Roxas Boulevard on Friday.
The group was opposing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) “beach nourishment” project through dump-filling of dolomite “white sand” along the 500-meter stretch of Baywalk.
During the protest, PAMALAKAYA warned that the dump-fillig of “white sand” could be a prelude to reclamation, which is “destructive to the marine environment and livelihood of the fisherfolk”.
“What we fear is not only the health issues being raised by experts, but this project might be in preparation for full-scale commercialization and privatization of Manila Bay to complement several reclamation projects. Grand sellout of Manila Bay means massive displacement of coastal communities and widespread environmental destruction,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said during the protest.
The fishers group has been criticizing the “ill-conceived” project which they said is “basically irrelevant and never mentioned” in the 2008 Supreme Court mandamus directing several government agencies to rehabilitate and restore Manila Bay.
“There was rehabilitation and there was restoration but there was never beautification. Top-ranking officials of the DENR should keep that in mind,” Hicap added.
Refuting the DENR that dolomite materials pose no harm to the environment, PAMALAKAYA said that filling of non-endemic substance in Manila Bay would basically disrupt its ecosystem.
“Take the country’s largest lake for example; proliferation of alien species in Laguna de Bay causes disbalance to its fishery and aquatic resources,” Ronnel Arambulo, PAMALAKAYA leader based in Rizal province explained.
Arambulo said that the invasion of knife fish, janitor fish, and snake turtle in the 90 thousand-hectare brackish water causes depletion of its endemic fish such as the ayungin, biya, common carp, among others.
Another case of destructive impact of non-endemic species is in the waters of Bacoor City, where the proliferation of a different variety of mollusk locally called as “bahong” outnumbers the traditional shellfish such as mussels and oysters, and is difficult to sell due to its low quality; thus considered by many fishermen as pest and invasive.
PAMALAKAYA reiterated its demand to “terminate the project as it would not benefit the environment and moreover, threatens the livelihood of thousands of fisherfolk across Manila Bay”.
“We demand the DENR to completely terminate the project or face loads of complaints over transgression of environmental laws. This ridiculous and nonsense project should immediately stop and dump the remaining “white sand” into the trash bin of stupide ideas,” Hicap asserted.
Joining PAMALAKAYA were various environmental organizations such as the Nilad, Climate Change Network for Community-based Initiatives (CCNCI), People’s Network for the Integrity of Coastal Habitats and Ecosystems (NICHE), Baseco People’s Alliance (BPA), and the militant party-list Anakpawis. ###