Palace’s P 1.6 B budget for Manila Bay clean up meant for “demolition jobs”, says fishers group

Palace’s P 1.6 B budget for Manila Bay clean up meant for “demolition jobs”, says fishers group

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday said the P 1.6 billion Malacañang has allocated for Manila Bay clean up is meant to carry out the baywide demolition of fisherfolk and urban poor communities along the bay that would extend to Pasig River up to Laguna Lake.

“The P 1.6 billion fund for Manila Bay clean up is a campaign fund to undertake the massive demolitions of bay people and urban poor from their main source of livelihood and communities. This is a declaration of war,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

According to Hicap the P 1.6 billion Palace allocations will target 13 million out of the 30 million population of Manila Bay, including urban poor families along Pasig River and the 27,000 fisherfolk families in Laguna Lake.

To prove that the fund was meant for “demolition jobs”, the Pamalakaya leader recalled that sometime last year, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) granted the request of the Cavite provincial government for assistance in demolishing fishepens and mussel growing structures in Bacoor Bay.

“If my memory serves me right, last year, DENR secretary gave Cavite Gov. Ayong Maliksi not less than P 800,000 for the demolition of fishpens and other structures in Cavite in the name of the bogus Manila Bay clean up,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya said the planned demolition of 4,000 Cavite fisherfolk and residents starting tomorrow will be funded by the P 1.6 billion Palace allocations for Manila Bay through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the DENR and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) who will help the the Cavite provincial government in carrying out the demolitions from Bacoor to Cavite City.

The militant group said in Cavite alone, more than 26,000 fisherfolk and urban poor residents in 10 barangays of Bacoor town will be displaced once the Manila Bay clean up programs go full blast.

Pamalakaya said the government is exploiting and abusing the Supreme Court ruling on Manila Bay clean up to effectively carry out the demolitions of communities to pave way for the entry of foreign funded government projects like road expansion and establishment of high rise buildings and condominiums, including casinos and high end rest and recreation centers.

The group said the reclamation of shallow waters in Manila Bay to allow the construction of R-1 Expressway Extension Project and the conversion of Sangley Naval Point into an international seaport spurned the destruction of Manila Bay. Pamalakaya said the government since last year had already reclaimed some 12,000 hectares of coastal waters in Bacoor Bay.

In a compliance report submitted to the Supreme Court yesterday, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. told the high court that the fund allocation was part of next year’s proposed national budget for the cleanup, restoration and preservation of the bay’s water quality.

Andaya explained the budget deliberations for the fiscal year 2010 National Expenditure Program will commence September of 2009 and will continue until the same is passed by Congress and approved by the President as the General Appropriations Act of FY 2010.

He said the recipients of the P1,644,721,000 fund allocation include proposed programs, projects and activities of DENR and MMDA.

Secretary Andaya and five other members of the Cabinet were among the heads of 10 government agencies whom an environmentalist lawyer wanted to be cited for contempt by the Supreme Court for failing to comply with the court’s requirement for regular progress reports in connection with the Manila Bay cleanup.

The other officials were Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus, Jojo Allado of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, and the heads of the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Ports Authority and Maritime Police.

The DBM report strressed that the biggest allocations related to the Manila Bay cleanup are those for the MMDA’s solid waste disposal and management that cost P848,525,000, and the relocation of informal settlers on open waterways in Metro Manila, P250 million.

The MMDA share includes P223,626,000 for operational support, maintenance, repair and rehabilitation of flood control systems costing, and P100 million for the mitigation of floods in the Gil Puyat Avenue-South Superhighway area.

The MMDA’s flood control and drainage projects in Metro Manila were given P58 million, while its urgent disaster flood control projects under the Pasig-San Juan-Marikina River systems and other areas were allocated P50 million.

The top recipient under the DENR programs is the Environmental Management Bureau’s monitoring of waterways, including the Manila Bay. The program was given a budget of P75.57 million.

The Office of the Environment Secretary was given P35 million for programs related to rehabilitation of the bay.

Of the amount, P20 million was set aside for physical and water quality, monitoring, mangrove reforestation and stream bank protection, bio-ecological monitoring, advocacy and communication, inventory of and support for dismantling of illegal structures, monitoring of industries and the natural process of cleaning up of degraded, toxic and sewage water and bodies of water.

A budget of P15 million was allotted as the office’s intelligence fund for gathering data on offenders of illegal forest extraction, illegal fish pens, smuggling of ozone-depleting substances and small-scale mining.

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