Fishers, urban poor have become objects of Manila Bay clean up, not toxic firms, groups lament 

Fishers, urban poor have become objects of Manila Bay clean up, not toxic firms, groups lament

The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and the party list group Anakpawis on Thursday lamented that small fisherfolk and urban poor residents are set as primary targets of Manila Bay clean up and not industrial and commercial firms who throw toxic and other solid and water wastes into the highly degraded bay.

“In vain attempt to salvage the capital and operations of government business clients along Manila Bay, Malacañang and its government agencies focus their campaign on Manila Bay clean up against fishermen and bay people dismissing this sea of humanity as illegal structures, garbage and toxic producing entities. This is totally unacceptable,” Pamalakaya and Anakpawis said in a joint press statement.

Both groups who led Bacoor fishermen and urban residents in filing a petition last Feb.23 asking the Supreme Court to stop the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and other government agencies from pursuing the demolition of fishpens and houses, stressing that the government is abusing and exploiting the high court ruling to effectively drive them away from their main source of livelihood and fishing villages.

“Malacañang wants us to give up our fishing and housing rights because foreign investors want to reclaim and construct business empires along Manila Bay. They are banking on the SC ruling on Manila Bay clean up to facilitate and fast-track the mass murder of livelihood and fishing communities along the bay,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

To expound his statement, the Pamalakaya leader said last Tuesday, Cavite Gov. Ayong Maliksi issued a provincial order calling on fisherfolk and urban poor residents in Barangay Sineguelasan to vacate the barangay within 15 days to allow government authorities to dismantle illegal structures in Bacoor in response to the SC ruling on Manila Bay.

“What illegal structures Gov. Maliksi is talking about? There are no illegal structures there. What is there are the houses of poor fishermen and residents trying to make a living despite poor catch due to the onslaught of massive reclamation and construction of R-1 Expressway Extension Project. The solid road which is originally a viaduct project is the illegal structure that should be eliminated in that fishing village”, said Hicap.

He said copies of Maliksi’s order were sent to the Office of Bacoor Mayor Strike Revilla and to the barangay captain of Barangay Sineguelasan on Tuesday morning.

Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente lamented that Governor Maliksi is supposed to carry out a people oriented rehabilitation program based on the Supreme Court ruling on Manila Bay clean up.

“But the governor’s order is not meant to clean up the bay of toxics and environmental troubles caused by foreign funded projects and colonies of industrial and commercial establishments. His order is to clean up the bay of small fisherfolk and urban poor people to pave way for foreign funded government projects,” she said.

“The Governor of Cavite, who is one of the proponents of the R-1 Expressway Extension Project that involves the reclamation of 7,000 hectares of coastal areas in Bacoor and nearby municipalities exploited the Supreme Court ruling to facilitate the displacement of not less than 26,000 fishing and urban poor families from their main source of livelihood and communities,” she said.

Clemente maintained that the reclamation projects, along with polluting factories and commercial establishments are the main sources of pollution and main perpetrators that led to the sorry state of Manila Bay, and not the fisherfolk and the urban poor dwellers residing along the coastal shores of the bay.

The Anakpawis leader said her group will join Pamalakaya and other fisherfolk petitioners in filing a manifestation and urgent motion for the issuance of writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order.

“This manifestation is meant to inform the SC that MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) failed to comply with the order dated March 3, 2009 to comment on our motion in-intervention and memorandum,” she said.

“The order of Gov. Maliksi shall be challenged not only in the Supreme Court, but also in the parliament of the streets, in the environmental sala of the people and in the court of public opinion. To set the record straight, Malacañang and their business partners and Gov. Maliksi should realize that Manila Bay will not exist or regain its proud and historic past without the fisherfolk and the bay people,” Anakpawis added.

Clemente said the motion will ask the high tribunal for preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order to enjoin and prohibit the respondents to implement the demand to vacate and/or the ongoing and future demolition of the houses of the small fisherfolk and the destruction of their fish cages, fish pens, and other sources of livelihood.

The Anakpawis official said the motion will be filed anytime this week or early next week to stop Gov. Maliksi from pursuing the demolition order in Barangay Seneguelasan, one of the affected coastal barangays in Bacoor, Cavite. #

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Filed under environment, human rights, Manila Bay

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