DENR chief told: Stop blaming poor over sorry state of Manila Bay
The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday urged Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Joselito Atienza to stop blaming small fishermen and urban poor folk over the sorry state of world famous Manila Bay.
“We strongly urge Secretary Atienza to stop misinforming the Filipino public about the real score on Manila Bay and quit from castrating and blaming the fisherfolk and urban poor over the sorry state of the bay. He is committing an across-the-nation foul play here, nothing more, nothing less,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.
The fisherfolk leader on February 23 questioned before the high tribunal Secretary Atienza’s aggressive use of a Supreme Court ruling on Manila Bay clean up, asserting that the environment secretary has been abusing and illegally using the SC decision to effectively carry out massive demolition of fishpens and communities in Bacoor, Cavite and other parts of the National Capital Region.
“The DENR secretary is the no.1 protector of big business groups dumping their toxic wastes and changing the landscapes and waterscapes of Manila Bay for their own profiteering adventures. He is putting the blame to small and ordinary people and exonerate the real masterminds behind the destruction of the bay,” the Pamalakaya leader added.
Hicap said Secretary Atienza like Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando sees the small fisherfolk and urban poor along the bay as eyesores and nuisance groups of people who don’t deserve decent life and should be evicted along the shorelines of Manila Bay, Laguna Lake and Pasig River.
“Secretary Atienza wants to get rid of us to allow transnational takeover of Manila Bay and the two immediate bodies of waters connected with the bay—Laguna Lake and Pasig River. For the environment secretary, what is important is the interest of big business groups doing profitable ventures and business escapades along Manila Bay,” he added.
Likewise, Pamalakaya dismissed anew, the ambitious 10-year P 100-billion Manila Bay rehabilitation program being eyed by the DENR for the bay’s rehabilitation as the biggest money making scheme of the 21st century.
“P 100 billion for the 10-year rehabilitation plan on Manila Bay is really money making scheme that makes DENR the biggest source of bureaucratic corruption fund in the country. It is like income generation campaign for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the rest of her corrupt gang in and out of Malacañang,” said Pamalakaya.
During the SC environmental forum last week, Secretary Atienza told forum participants that the government needs P 100 billion to rehabilitate Manila Bay. The DENR chief said it would be impossible to clean the water in the Manila Bay as long as domestic wastes flow into the canals into the Pasig River and into Manila Bay.
“The Operation Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy which details the projects and budget to rehabilitate Manila Bay was completed in 2005. It is now 2008 but nobody knows what this master plan is all about. It is only Secretary Atienza, the master showman of DENR who is aware that there is such a thing as P 100- B Manila Bay rehab plan,” said Pamalakaya.
The militant group said 60 percent of pollution entering Manila Bay comes through the Pasig River, and 80 percent of the pollution comes from industries and commercial establishments situated along the country’s major river system in the National Capital Region. Another 15 percent of the pollution that gets into Manila Bay comes from Pampanga River, which the group said, is colonized by big and small polluting factories.
“The government is blaming over fishing as a major factor in the degradation of Manila Bay. That is a flimsy and ridiculous excuse. The massive privatization and conversion of public lands and coastal communities along the bay since the Marcos dictatorship up to present administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is the principal reason why Manila Bay is under the Intensive Care Unit, and suffering from environmental comatose,” Pamalakaya said.
The militant group said not less than 20,000 hectares of Manila Bay have been subjected to reclamation to pave way for the construction of special economic zones in Bataan and Cavite, the commercial spaces presently occupied by Manila Film Center, the GSIS Building in Pasay City, the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Folk Arts Theater in Manila, and the SM Mall of Asia and other commercial companies in Pasay City.
Pamalakaya said the government intends to reclaim areas in Pasay City for the setting up of $ 15-B Casino Project in Pasay City, and it is also inclined to reclaim another 8,000 hectares of foreshore areas in Cavite for the coastal road project from Bacoor to Sangley Point in Cavite City. The coastal project alone will evict 26,000 small fishermen and urban poor from their main source of livelihood and communities. #