“Manila Bay Coordinating Committee meeting, a grand mockery and extremely farce”– Pamalakaya
The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) today dismissed the first meeting of the Manila Bay Coordinating Committee (MBCC) organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) “a grand mockery and extremely farce”.
“It is nothing but a showoff just to make an impression that Malacañang and its government agencies are doing the best they can to save Manila Bay from the deathbed of environmental destruction,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.
“It can be viewed as a meeting of minds among the top lackeys of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and their sinister agenda is to convince Congress, the World Bank, the rich nations and global funding agencies to allot at least P 100 billion in rehabilitation funds for Manila Bay that will eventually end up to the corrupt hands of the Arroyo ruling clique in Malacañang,” the Pamalakaya leader added.
The MBCC composed of officials of the DENR, the Metro Manila Development Authority, Department of Education, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Budget and Management, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police, Philippine Maritime Group and the Department of Interior and Local Government will meet today at Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City to discuss plans on how to revive Manila Bay and bring it back to its pristine state in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling on December 18 last year.
“They are just talking to their own shadows. As long as the framework for Manila Bay development is the sell out of the bay to Palace top corporate clients, the deterioration of this once rich fishing ground will continue will continue to the detriment of 23 million Filipinos living and fishing along the bay,” added Hicap.
Pamalakaya which has fisherfolk chapters in Cavite, the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan lamented that the main and the biggest group of stakeholders in Manila Bay—the small fisherfolk were not invited to speak in the MBCC meeting, because DENR Secretary Joselito Atienza and the rest of government officials were afraid to be exposed and opposed in the MBCC meeting.
“The fisherfolk were not invited for obvious reason—Atienza and his company of extraordinary auctioneers of Manila Bay will not allow themselves to be exposed and embarrassed by the affected sector in this hundred-billion racketeering project of the government under the guise of rehabilitating Manila Bay,” the militant group added.
In protest of the MBCC meeting, 15,000 fisherfolk and urban poor residents along the 15 coastal villages of Bacoor town in Cavite today staged a “People’s March” against the R-1 Expressway Extension Project of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the UEM-Mara Philippine Corp.
The protest action, the biggest so far against the Cavite road project was organized by the Samahang Magdaragat ng Bacoor, Cavite (SMBC), an affiliate of Pamalakaya.
Pamalakaya blamed the ambitious Sangley dream of former Senator and PRA chair Ramon Revilla Sr. as the main culprit behind the looming demolition of fisherfolk communities in many coastal towns of the province.
Pamalakaya recalled that on June 21, 2007, President Arroyo signed Executive Order No. 629 directing the PRA to develop Sangley Point in Cavite City into a logistical hub with modern seaport and an airport, citing the R-1 expressway extension project as enabling component. The Pamalakaya leader said the Sangley Point project was Mrs. Arroyo’s birthday gift to Revilla.
“The R-1 extension project which is directly link to old Revilla’s Sangley escapade is an exchange deal between the Arroyos and the old Revilla. They don’t mind about their collaborations killing impact to the livelihood of the fisherfolk and Manila Bay’s fragile environment,” said Pamalakaya
The group said the R-1 extension project resulted to diminished fish catch and destruction of remaining corals and mangroves in Manila Bay. The same Cavite road project is also being blamed for the flooding in Bacoor and nearby coastal towns in the province.
Pamalakaya said the reclamation activities conducted by the PRA and the UEM-Mara Philippine Corp. violated the recent Supreme Court decision on the rehabilitation of Manila Bay adding that the reclamation is destructive to the marine environment.
“We cannot bring Manila Bay back to its pristine state and historic glory if the Arroyo government continues to sanction the anti-environment and anti-people business activities of the PRA and the UEM-Mara Philippine Corp. The R-1 extension project and the Sangley big ticket item project of Revilla Sr. are in violations of the high court’s ruling on the environment,” it said. #