Cavite gov, 3 government execs violate SC ruling on Manila Bay, fishers group assert

Cavite gov, 3 government execs violate SC ruling on Manila Bay, fishers group assert

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday said Cavite Governor Ayong Maliksi, along with environment and natural resources secretary Joselito Atienza, former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr., chair of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and public works and highway secretary Hermogenes Ebdane violated the Supreme Court ruling on Manila Bay.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the controversial R-1 Expressway Extension Project being pushed by the national government in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the PRA and the Cavite provincial government is contrary to high court ruling thrust to bring the bay back to its pristine state and historical glory.

“The 11-kilometer expressway project is a road to perdition and a highway to destruction. But for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and these officials, the R-1 undertaking is a multi-billion peso finance campaign. And to effectively carry out this P 8-billion fund sourcing, they are exploiting and prostituting the SC ruling on Manila Bay against the opposition,” added Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said the SC decision mandates the national government and concerned government officials and agencies to restore Manila Bay to its clean and productive state. Hicap said the ruling does not mention anything about the right of the state to evict poor fisherfolk and urban poor families from their main source of livelihood and communities.

“We have read and studied the SC decision on Manila Bay. The high tribunal is mandating the government to clean up the bay of wastes, not to clean this fishing ground of fisher people. The fisherfolk are part of the Manila Bay’s ecological life and survival,” Hicap added.

The Pamalakaya leader said a fisherfolk legal forum billed “Manila Bay By Day, Manila Bay By Night” will be staged on February 16 at the Ibon Center in Quezon City to fully understand the legal implications and relations of the December 2008 Supreme Court ruling on issues confronting Manila Bay fishermen, and how fisherfolk and the bay residents could effectively use the high tribunal decision as a legal remedy against the all-out destruction of their small-livelihood and demolition of fishing villagers along Manila Bay.

Hicap said Atty. Jobert Pahilga, executive trustee of Sentra Para Sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra) and campaign advocacy officer of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) will lead the legal education among members of Pamalakaya in Manila Bay.

Hicap added in that forum, his group hopes that they identify the legal actions to be taken against Gov. Maliksi, secretaries Atienza and Ebdane and Revilla Sr. of PRA.

Pamalakaya accused President Arroyo, Gov. Maliksi, Atienza, Ebdane and Revilla Sr. of destroying the remaining corals and mangroves of Manila Bay by pushing the R-1 Expressway Extension Project by allowing the reclamation of 7,500 hectares of the submerged public properties along the bay to give way to road construction.

“Reclamation will hasten the death of Manila Bay which is currently under the Intensive Care Unit and in full environmental comatose. That undertaking by design and by orientation, and by law is against the SC decision on Manila Bay,” the militant group said.

Yesterday, some 50 protesters who staged a camp-out inside the R-1 reclamation were dispersed by a composite team of 300 police and security marshals deployed by the Bacoor PNP, Cavite City PNP and Tagaytay PNP. Though no one was arrested, scores of fisherfolk and residents belonging to Samahang Magdaragat ng Bacoor, Cavite, an affiliate of Pamalakaya were hurt during the dispersal.

Pamalakaya 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.

The militant group 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. #

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