Fishers group slams DENR plan to ask Japanese aid to save Manila Bay

Fishers group slams DENR plan to ask Japanese aid to save Manila Bay

Dismissing the idea as “grandslam money making scheme cloaked on environmental concern, the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday assailed the proposal of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Joselito Atienza to borrow P 3.8 billion from the Japanese government to finance the sewerage and septage management project involving the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

“Something must be done to stop this financial barbarism of Secretary Atienza. We cannot save Manila Bay by borrowing loans from other countries and allowing left-and-right corporate takeovers and plunders of Manila Bay. The proposal of the self-proclaimed environmental czar to borrow fresh loans from Japan is a super stupid act,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader said the best way to stop the environmental death of Manila Bay is to stop all foreign funded government projects in Manila Bay like the controversial reclamation of some 7,000 hectares foreshore land areas in Cavite to give way to the R-1 Expressway Extension Project and the reclamation of another 5,000 hectares of shallow coastal waters to expand Sangley Point Naval Base to make it one of the biggest international seaports in Southeast Asia.

“The P 3.8 billion loan which the Philippine government will ask from the Japanese government is part of the long-running fund raising campaign hatched by Malacañang. It is public knowledge that DENR wants a whopping P 100 billion fund for their bogus Save Manila Bay campaign,” said Hicap.

In DENR’s compliance report to the Supreme Court, Secretary Atienza announced that the government is eyeing the help of the Japanese government to finance the sewerage and septage management because the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) is having difficulty in pushing through its task of installing, operating and maintaining sewerage and sanitation facilities and efficient and safe collection, treatment and disposal of sewerage in Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan due to lack of funds.

The compliance report is part of the Supreme Court order to the concerned government agencies to keep the judiciary informed on the Manila Bay clean up pursuant to the February ruling asking government departments to save the “slowly dying” Manila Bay which the high tribunal described as “a place with proud historic past”.

Secretary Atienza said officials of LWUA will submit their proposal to the Japanese government to seek grant funds, but the rest of the funding he said was still uncertain because the water agency has fully reached the limits of its equity and debt ceilings and this could no longer absorb additional financial burdens.

Atienza said Congress promised to increase LWUA’s debt and equity ceilings and they would have to wait until this was passed by the legislative branch.

On February 23 Pamalakaya 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 group said the DENR secretary wants to demolish fishermen from their main source of livelihood and communities by demolishing their fishpens and by evicting them from their communities to facilitate the entry of big projects funded by foreign investors.

Pamalakaya 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 no 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. #


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