Manila, Philippines – Fishers and climate activists are up in arms against the government’s order to dismantle fishing structures which include oyster (talaba) and mussel (tahong) farms in Manila Bay.
In a joint protest held by the infamous dolomite beach in Manila Baywalk today, militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), along with climate activists and environmentalists led by Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP), renewed their call to terminate the order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to demolish fishing farms from four coastal towns in Cavite – Cavite City, Bacoor City, Noveleta, and Kawit.
The demolition order, according to PAMALAKAYA, threatens the livelihood of at least 15, 000 fisherfolk in Manila Bay, aside from its indirect adverse impact on the shellfish vendors and shellfish-eating population across the bay and nearby provinces.
“15, 000 fishers are not mere numbers, they are food security frontliners and faces of Manila Bay’s productivity. Taking away their source of livelihood is to bring hunger not only to their families but to poor Filipinos who depend on their shellfish products as cheap sources of protein,” Ronnel Arambulo, PAMALAKAYA Southern Tagalog Spokesperson said during the protest.
The fishers’ group asserted that the demolition order is “unjust, immoral, and illegal” as the fishing structures are within the municipal waters and under the direct jurisdictions of the four local government units (LGU) in Cavite.
“It means the DENR has no right to implement such order. They should cease and desist from using the rehabilitation program as a precursor to destructive and profit-driven projects,” Arambulo added, saying that his group believes that massive reclamation projects are behind the government’s order against fishing structures.
“The Duterte government is adamant to pursue the reclamation despite its socioeconomic impacts and its direct assault to the fragile marine environment of the bay. The marginalized fishers are being sacrificed at the altar of the bogus rehabilitation program,” added Arambulo.
The protest was the Philippine counterpart to the Global Climate Strike today by the international youth climate network Fridays for Future. ###
Fisherfolk, urban poor, artists and youth from PAMALAKAYA and Anakpawis Party-list join the Climate Strike 2021 in Manila, along Manila Bay. Photos by Arkibong Bayan.