Pamalakaya slams Atienza’s P 814,480 fund for dismantling of small fishpens in Manila Bay

Pamalakaya slams Atienza’s P 814,480 fund for dismantling of small fishpens in Manila Bay

The left-wing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday questioned the P 814,480 fund alloted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for dismantling operations of small fishpens in Manila Bay.

Dismissing it as gross usurpation and misspending of public funds, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap demanded DENR Secretary Joselito Atienza to refrain from using taxpayers’ money to destroy the livelihood of small fisherfolk and small fishpen operators in Manila Bay, particularly in Cavite province.

A DENR letter to Cavite Governor Ayong Maliksi dated January 12, 2009, a copy of which was obtained by Pamalakaya, revealed that Assistant Secretary Mark Allan Jay G. Yambao informed the governor that the Office of Sec. Atienza had approved the amount of P 814,480 requested by Gov. Maliksi for the equipment rental of backhoe and tug boat to be used for the dismantling of small fishpens in Cavite.

The Cavite government requested assistance last October 13, 2008 for the dismantling of fishpen structures in Manila Bay, particularly in the province of Cavite. The DENR is set to implement the second phase of dismantling operations on Feb.3, 2009, which will be graced by secretary Atienza.

Hicap said the demolition of fishpens was not meant to clean up the Manila Bay in the name of the environment. The Pamalakaya leader said fish pens are being dismantled to pave way for reclamation of shallow coastal waters of Manila Bay in line with the R-1 Expressway Extension Project. “The left-and-right reclamation activities should be blamed for the destruction of Manila Bay, and not the fishing activities like fish capture and mussel growing along the bay operated by small fishpen operators and small fishermen,” added Hicap.

Yesterday, some 15,000 fisherfolk and urban poor residents along the 15 coastal villages of Bacoor town in Cavite 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. Fisherfolk and urban poor residents from Kawit, Binakayan and Noveleta coastal towns also joined the march.

SMBC spokesperson Trina Shavez said the R-1 extension project, which will involve the reclamation of 7,500 hectares of coastal waters and mangrove areas will connect the Manila-Cavite Road from Bacoor to Kawit, and it will continue inland up to Noveleta for a total of 11 kilometers.

“This project is a curse. It will not only kill our livelihood. The R-1 road project is also meant to remove us from fishing communities. Where we will go from here? This government is not after our rights and welfare. It is only after the interest of big investors and real estate money makers in exchange for fat kickbacks,” the SMBC spokesperson said in a press statement.

Shavez said the R-1 expressway extension project will displace 26,000 fisherfolk families and urban poor residents in the coastal towns of Bacoor, Kawit, Binakayan, Noveleta and Cavite City. Last year, around 1,000 fishing and urban poor families were demolished and relocated to Tanza. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) promised to give P 15,000 to each family whose houses were demolished.

Hicap 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 PRA chair and former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr..

“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

Pamalakaya said the R-1 extension project resulted to diminished fish catch and destruction of remaining corals and mangroves in Bacoor 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. #

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