Reclamation project is blocking Manila Bay fishers from source of livelihood – PAMALAKAYA
Manila, Philippines – The militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Friday received reports from its provincial chapter in Cavite that metal walls are being installed along the shores of Bacoor City, part of Manila Bay, curtailing the fishing activities of small fishermen.
“Sinimulan ang pagbabakod sa dagat sa gitna ng pandemya at habang may umiiral na community quarantine. Ang malala, walang project details na maipresinta sa amin ang aming local na pamahalaan kung para saan ang mga bakod. Nakakasagabal ito sa paglabas-masok ng aming mga bangka. Kung tutuluyang harangan ang dagat, saan kami kukuha ng ikabubuhay?” Myrna Candinato, PAMALAKAYA-Cavite Spokesperson decried.
PAMALAKAYA believed that the installation of metal walls is part of the 420-hectare reclamation project in Bacoor City, proposed by the local government unit under Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla.
The twin reclamation projects are the 100-hectare Diamond Reclamation and Development Project that costs P13.5 billion, and the 320-hectare Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project amounting to P42 billion. The 320-hectare project has already secured an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) despite the strong opposition from the affected residents.
The national fishers’ group said that the said reclamation projects would entail massive displacement of at least 700 fishing and coastal families in Bacoor City.
The group also asserted that reclamation is a violation of the 2008 Supreme Court (SC) mandamus directing government agencies to rehabilitate and restore the historic Manila Bay. It never mentioned dump-filling activities, PAMALAKAYA emphasized.
PAMALAKAYA has lodged complaints before the DENR and the Ombudsman against the Bacoor City local government over violation of environmental laws, including the dump-filling of an abandoned fishpond in Brgy. Maliksi III, that was adjacent to Manila Bay. The complainants assert that abandoned fish ponds must be transformed into mangrove areas as stated in the amended Fisheries Code of 1998.
But the group said the DENR and Ombudsman have yet to respond to their complaints.
“Bahagi ng reklamasyon ang pagbabakod na kasalukuyang isinasagawa ng aming lokal na pamahalaan. Sa kabila nang pagtutol di lamang ng mga apektadong residente, kundi ng maraming sektor dahil sa pinsalang idudulot ng reklamasyon sa kalikasan at kabuhayan, itutuloy pa rin ito ng lokal na pamahalaan sa pangunguna ni Mayor Mercado-Revilla,” Candinato added.
“Kung nagtatambak ng dolomite sa Baywalk, binabakuran naman ang bahagi ng Bacoor; parehong walang pakinabang sa kalikasan at mga mangingisda ng Manila Bay. Malinaw na hindi rehabilitasyon ng Manila Bay ang tinatahak ng gobyerno kundi tuluyang pagkasira ng pangisdaan at pagpapahirap sa mga mangingisda. Saan dadaan ang aming mga bangka kung tuluyan nilang sasarhan ang dagat?” said Candinato.
PAMALAKAYA said they will continue to challenge the reclamation projects in Bacoor City and across Manila Bay “in every legal way, in the parliament of the streets, and in the court of public opinion”.
Photos by SAKA Fisherfolk Desk.