10,000 Bacoor fishers set People’s March, Fluvial protest vs. Cavite Road Project

10,000 Bacoor fishers set People’s March, Fluvial protest vs. Cavite Road Project

Some 10,000 fisherfolk and urban poor residents along the 15 coastal villages of Bacoor town in Cavite will stage a “People’s March” and fluvial protest on Monday against the R-1 Expressway Extension Project of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the UEM-Mara Philippine Corp.

Organizers led by the Samahang Magdaragat ng Bacoor, Cavite and Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) announced that fisherfolk and urban poor residents from 15 coastal barangays will march from their respective points of origin to the reclamation site.

They will meet around 300 fishermen aboard 50 small fishing boats on their way to the reclamation site in the boundary of Zapote and Bacoor, some 5 kilometers from the Manila-Cavite toll gate plaza.

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.

“We want an end to his corporate takeover and plunder. We want our fishing and housing rights back and guaranteed. We will not leave,” the SMBC spokesperson added.

For his part, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former Senator and PRA chair Ramon Revilla Sr. and the private contractor of the project to stop pursuing the R-1 Expressway Extension Project, warning them of bigger protest and strong resistance the Cavite fishermen and residents if the national government will not cease and desist from implementing the destructive project.

“President Arroyo and the old Revilla must stop this corporate led and corruption driven project. They should quit from mortgaging the livelihood and future of small fisherfolk in Cavite and cease and desist from further destroying the environment of Manila Bay, said Hicap.

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 Revilla.

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.

The militant group 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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