Taliptip folks need to stay as it is, not TESDA training, Senator Poe told
Manila, Philippines – “We humbly appeal Senator Grace Poe to thoroughly scrutinize the impacts of the proposed Bulacan airport project to the fishing community, and the Manila Bay environment before granting it a franchise,” According to the militant fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Wednesday, as a bill seeking to grant a franchise to San Miguel Aerocity Inc., a subsidiary of the San Miguel Corp. (SMC), that will allow it to build and operate a domestic and international airport in Bulacan has already reached the Senate floor.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson and former Anakpawis Party-list solon Fernando Hicap told Senator Poe that the project would “entail massive displacement of fishing communities and destruction of the marine and fishery resources of Manila Bay”.
“We remind the good Senator whose campaign banner was ‘Galing at Puso’ that the project is neither scientific nor considerate of the affected residents, especially the fishing sector of Bulacan. It is simply detrimental to the environment. She should consult with the affected communities and experts to know why we strongly oppose this project which would be composed of reclamation of 2,500 hectares of Manila Bay waters,” Hicap said in a statement.
Senator Poe, who is the Chair of the Senate public services committee, said that the residents affected are “all set to train under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), for courses and skills specific to the needs of the airport’s construction”.
“The affected residents, who mostly subsist in Manila Bay by fishing, don’t need a vocational and technical training. They need to stay in their fishing communities and continue the fishing production,” added Hicap.
The fishers group said that the Senate should “refrain from facilitating large-scale destruction of the Manila Bay which is under rehabilitation, and moreover, should reject from becoming a tool of giant business firms for pushing big-ticket projects at the expense of the fisherfolk living peacefully in coastal areas”.
As the Global Climate Strike was recently held by the Fridays for Future last September 25, to which the world-renowned youth activist Greta Thunberg is associated, the fisherfolk group reminded Poe to heed the youth’s demand in preserving the environment and contribute through her legislative work. The strike’s battle cry was “Climate Justice and Equity”, to which the airport project is clearly a contradiction. The global group’s local counterpart, the Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP) primarily demanded for “the Philippine government to declare a climate emergency and pursue immediate action such as imposing moratoria on approval and construction of new coal-fired power plants and reclamation projects”.
“We believe that Senator Poe is receptive of the youth’s clamor for social and environmental reforms, but her latest inclination for the environmentally harmful and unscientific project proves otherwise,” Hicap ended. ###