Fishers dumped 10 sacks of mussel shells in DENR to protest demolition

Fishers dumped 10 sacks of mussel shells in DENR to protest demolition

Fisherfolk and mussel growers in Bacoor, Cavite, whose small mussel aquaculture pens were demolished by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) staged a “mussel flexing” protest at the office of Secretary Joselito Atienza and demanded an immediate halt on future demolition of their pens along Manila Bay.

Sixty (60) fisherfolk and mussel growers identified with the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), its regional affiliate Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog and the Samahang Magdaragat ng Bacoor, Cavite dumped 10 sacks of empty mussel shells at the gate of the DENR national office in Visayas Avenue, Quezon City to warn Atienza of forthcoming social volcano.

Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog secretary general Pedro Gonzalez called Sec. Atienza, the Butcher of Manila Bay for destroying the livelihood of small fishermen and mussel growers in Manila Bay. He said more than 50 percent of all small fish traps and mussel pens in Bacoor and adjacent coastal towns were already “cleaned up” of small fish trap and mussel pens.

“The Supreme Court ruling on Manila Bay rehabilitation put to task Atienza to clean up the bay of solid wastes and treat water wastes dumped into the bay. The high court decision does not give him the license to destroy the people’s livelihood. He is cannibalizing and prostituting the high tribunal ruling on Manila Bay,” Gonzalez added.

For his part, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap revealed that Sec. Atienza and other government agencies like the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and other government agencies will be named respondents to the group’s plan to question all the government development projects, reclamation and demolition activities in Manila Bay.

The Pamalakaya leader said on Monday, Pamalakaya and around 3,000 small fisherfolk and mussel growers in Bacoor, Cavite will march from Bacoor to the Supreme Court in Manila to file the petition seeking for declaratory relief and clarificatory action on Manila Bay clean up.
“We want to know if under the SC ruling, DENR government agencies are allowed to kill the livelihood of the people and send them away from their coastal villages. At the same time, we want to know if the Supreme Court decision allows destructive and anti-environment projects like reclamation and road expansion to proceed at the expense of people’s rights to livelihood and abode,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya theorized that Atienza was actively engaged in demolition of fish traps and small mussel aquaculture pens in Manila Bay to fast-rack the reclamation of 7,500 hectares of submerged public lands along the bay and pave way for the completion of the 11-kilometer R-1 Expressway Extension Project.

Pamalakaya and SMBC asserted that 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.

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.

The 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.

“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 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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