Category Archives: environment

Fishers swimming with fish, but income went down further

By Sarsi Pimentel, Rey Manangan, Lady Michelle Adobe and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- Laguna Lake fishermen are reportedly swimming with fish nowadays, bringing home as much as 100 kilos per fishing trip but their income dropped to all time low.

The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday said fisherfolk in Laguna Lake are literally and figurative swimming with fish particularly big head, milkfish and tilapia due to rainy season and the overflow of some of fish pens in the 94,000 hectare brackish lake water.

But Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France said despite the bounty harvest over the last four weeks or one month, the small fisherfolk of Laguna Lake are wallowing in poverty because the farm gate price of fish in the lake was drastically cut by 1,000 to 25,000 percent per kilo of whatever water products fished from the lake.

The Pamalakaya official who went to Binangonan fish port over the weekend to check farm gate prices of fish said he was shocked to learn that the farm gate price of big head (sometimes called or mistaken as maya-maya) is now P 1 per kilo compared to previous farm gate price of P 25 per kilo or a drop of 24,000 percent.

“One fisherman whom we interviewed last week said his catch was 145 kilos and he only received P 145 for the entire catch or P 1 per kilo. He spent 5 liters of gasoline or P 230 and lost 85 pesos. This is unfair, very unfair,” added France.

The Pamalakaya official said in the aftermath of typhoon Basyang, fish traders buying milkfish in Laguna Lake fish ports buy milkfish at a rate of P 10 per kilo, one of the lowest in the history of fish trading in the lake.

Cartel blamed

France blamed the fish cartel operating in Laguna Lake for the low price of fisherfolk harvests. He said prior to typhoon Basyang, farm gate prices of bangus and big head are pegged at average prices of P 40 and P 20 per kilo respectively. Pamalakaya said fish traders are making huge profits by selling milk fish at P 80 per kilo and big head at 40 per kilo to fish retailers.

The group said aside from unscrupulous fish traders, multinational oil companies are largely to blame for the rock bottom drop in the income of Laguna Lake fishermen because of perpetual hikes and high rise cost of petroleum products used by small fisherfolk.

“The small fisherfolk are exploited, the fish eating public is summarily abused by the fish cartel operating like a long-running syndicate in Laguna Lake. We ask Gov. Junjun Ynares of Rizal, Gov. EJ Ejercito of Laguna and the mayors of Laguna Lake in Rizal and Laguna and National Capital Region to investigate this perpetual exploitation of Laguna Lake fishers and the consuming public and stop this 24 hour, seven day exploitation,” said Pamalakaya.

Collective petition

Pamalakaya said they will file a collective petition before the governor offices of Ynares and Ejercito and the rest of the local government units surrounding the lake to raise the farm gate price of milkfish by an average of P 40 to P 50 per kilo and big head by an average of P 20 per kilo to compensate with the high rising cost of production in fishing.

The militant group said 80 percent of the production cost goes to diesel and gasoline per fishing trip. Pamalakaya said their leaders in the national office and their chapters around the lake are willing to dialogue and come face to face with members of the fish cartel to discuss this problem of six feet below ground prices of fish products in Laguna Lake.

Income of small fishers in Laguna Lake has drastically reduced over the last 15 years due to diminishing fish catch, increasing prices of petroleum products and low farm gate prices. From a high of 10 to 15 kilos of average catch per day, today’s prevailing fish catch is pegged between 3 kilos to 5 kilos per day and income dropped at all time low from P 500 to P 1,000 per fishing trip to P 50 to P 150 per fishing trip.

The militant group clarified that despite their demand for the increase in farm gate prices, fish traders could still enjoy at least P 20 gross profits and could still sell milkfish in the market at P 70 per kilo and big head at P 40 per kilo which are lower compared to the prevailing price of milkfish at P 100 to P 120 per kilo and big head which can still be sold at P 50 per kilo which is way below the prevailing market price of P 80 to P 100 per kilo.

“Our proposal will give small fisherfolk decent income and at the same time will give the consuming public a cheaper price for fishery products,” said Pamalakaya. (With reports from Handog Malaya Vera and Billy Javier Reyes) #

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Manila anti-casino group sought divine intervention

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Handog Malaya Vera and Victoria Sunshine Malubarry

MANILA, Philippines- A militant alliance of small fishermen opposed to the planned construction of a Las Vegas like casino in the western portion of Manila Bay in Paranaque City on Saturday asked the influential Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to join forces with them to stop the 557 million US dollar casino-resort project in the Bagong Nayong Pilipino-Entertainment City.

In a press statement, the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) appealed to the 117 archbishops and bishops of the CBCP to coalesce with the fisherfolk and other affected people in Manila Bay in the fight of what it called the Las Vegas-nization of the country.

“We ask our archbishops and bishops to join the Manila Bay coastal people in their legit and just struggle against those evil forces who want to make this country the gambling capital of Asia to the detriment of coastal people and the bay environment,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said his group is planning to seek a dialogue with the bishops and archbishops of the CBCP anytime next week to discuss the devastating impact of the project to small fisherfolk and urban poor and its destructive effect to the already fragile Manila Bay environment.

“We will move heaven and earth to put up a strong opposition against this largest gambling project clinched during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and passed on to the new administration of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III,” added Hicap.

In a statement yesterday, Bloombury Investments Holdings Inc. which was acquired by port operatorEnrique Razon Jr. said it had broken ground for the construction of Solaire, an integrated resort complex that includes a five-star, 500-room hotel on a 165,000-square-meter land.

According to Bloombury, aside from catapulting the Philippines into becoming a key player in the tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries, the project will make Filipinos proud for having a world class leisure hub that will showcase the best that the country can offer. It said the entertainment city will rival leisure hubs in the region such as those in Macau, Malaysia and Singapore.

The project marks Razon’s first venture into the lucrative gaming industry. Razon owns Manila-based global port giant International Container Terminal Services Inc. The Bloombury complex is expected to open by the third quarter of 2012. Total investment in the long term is expected to reach $ 1 billion.

Project proponents said aside from attracting local and foreign visitors, the complex is expected to generate some 2,500 jobs and boost the country’s ancillary service sectors.

“This is ridiculous, very, very ridiculous. Please allow us to inform the bishops that the Supreme Court ruling is clear——-Malacanang should rehabilitate Manila Bay and should not transform the bay into a gambling capital of Asia is contrary to the high court decision,” said Hicap in reference to the Dec. 2008 Supreme Court decision mandating the national government and concerned government agencies to restore Manila Bay back to its historic and proud past.

“The bishops are politically and morally obliged to confront this gambling project of the ruling Mafia in Malacanang. That is one their callings as far as the Christian faith and the people’s collective interest are concerned,” the Pamalakaya official added.

The other companies granted licenses were Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc., the partnership between the Andrew L. Tan-led Alliance Global, Inc. and casino-resort operator Genting Hong Kong Ltd., SM Investments Corp. and Universal Entertainment Corp. (formerly Azure Corp.), which makes gaming machines and is a co-investor in the Wynn chain of casino hotels in Las Vegas and Macau.

“The issue of Manila Bay casino project is not only about cronyism and the despicable partnership between Arroyo and his cherished client-Mr. Razon and now Razon as de facto supporter and crony of Aquino. At stake here is the marine environment, the livelihood of 3 million people in Manila Bay and the national interest of 92 million Filipinos. Sad to say, President Arroyo sacrificed these stakes to make more money and make his crony the happiest and the luckiest guy on earth.

Pagcor president and chief operating officer Rafael Butch Francisco announced on Monday the construction at the Bay Shore Entertainment City was expected to start in the latter part of the year. Sources said the Razon’s entry into the Pagcor project came after his exit from the power transmission business. Last month, Henry Sy Jr.’s OneTaipan Holdings, Inc. bought Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. from Razon’s group for $350 million.

Pagcor said the construction is expected to start in the third quarter at an estimated cost of $400 million for the first phase. According to the state-run gambling corporation, the complex will include two five-star luxury hotel towers of over 1,000 rooms within a world-class entertainment and convention facility.

The Pamalakaya fisherfolk alliance said the construction of Manila Bay casino similar to first-ratecasinos in Las Vegas and Macau will trigger the displacement of 3 million coastal people in Metro Manila and Cavite who are still dependent to fishing as principal source of livelihood, and any move to transform or convert Manila Bay for other purposes like the $15-billion casino project will have a killing impact on the livelihood of small fishermen, aside from the fact that they would be demolished from their communities, once construction of support structures and establishments begins.

“The irrevocable desire of President Aquino and Mr. Razon to convert Manila Bay into an international gateway for big time gambling addicts both international and domestic is not only blasphemous, but also detestable and highly revolting. This government is sacrificing the future ofManila Bay fishers at the altar of corporate interest and gambling addiction of the international and domestic elites,” the Pamalakaya said.

The militant group said the construction of Manila Bay casino will also trigger reclamation of other coastal shores along Manila Bay that will result to eviction of fishing communities and coastal villagers along the bay.

Pamalakaya recalled from 1992 to 1995, the demolitions of coastal shanties became an everyday ordeal in Pasay Reclamation area. Houses were uprooted on almost day-to-day basis. Small and big time bribery to divide the communities were conducted to facilitate the demolition of homes as if the words and orders of Malacañang were the words of God in this country.

The setting up of casino and resorts, including SM’s Mall of Asia was all in the master plan of the government known as Manila Bay Master Development Plan that officially started during the time of President Ramos and projected to end between 2020 and 2025.

Pamalakaya said 3,500 small fisherfolk and their families in Pasay Reclamation Area, and another 3,000 coastal and urban poor families along the coastal shores of Parañaque were evicted by the government of former President Ramos to pave way for the construction of the proposed casino that would make the Philippines the Las Vegas of Asia.#

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Obama told to stop Exxon oil hunt in Manila

By Sarsi Pimentel, Pepsi Laloma and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines-The activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday asked US President Barack Obama to extend his order to suspend all offshore mining activities in American territorial waters to foreign waters like Sulu where ExxonMobil is currently undertaking a $ 110-million oil and gas exploration.

Obama recently suspended all offshore mining activities following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill where 20 million gallons are now estimated to have leaked since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20 and sank, killing 11 workers. Since the spill started, an estimated 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of crude have leaked into the Gulf each day, which environmentalists described as worst environmental disaster in US history.

The massive oil spill in Gulf of Mexico prompted US lawmakers to file a bill demanding a permanent ban on all offshore drilling across the United States. At least 6 Democrat senators — Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington sponsored the controversial measure.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap advised Obama to also issue an executive order calling ExxonMobil and other US-owned offshore mining companies doing oil and gas explorations abroad to call off explorations following the BP oil spill.

“Mr. Obama can issue an order calling ExxonMobil to back out from its oil and gas expedition off Sulu Sea. The White House current occupant can issue black and white order commanding ExxonMobil to back off from its oil deal with the Philippine government,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

Hicap said his group was apprehensive of the project’s impact on the livelihoods of fishing communities in Palawan, Western Visayas, Zamboanga peninsula and Sulu archipelago.

Pamalakaya said the Sulu Sea, in the southwest Philippines, connects the South China Sea and the Celebes Sea and is considered to be on the route of tuna and other schools of fish leaving or going to the Pacific Ocean.

The militant group claimed that the approval of the ExxonMobil exploration deal was “just a preview of the forthcoming RP-US Free Trade Agreement, which the incoming presidency of leading presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy”Aquino III is expected to yield to the Obama administration in recognition of the US top officials support to Aquino before , during and after the May 10 presidential elections.

Pamalakaya theorized ExxonMobil, a major world player, would not go to a country where the potential is not great. The militant group recalled that ExxonMobil officials US oil firm officials led by Stephen Greenlee said the plan to explore for oil and gas in Sulu was a big deal for the company, and that ExxonMobil was encouraged by preliminary seismic data on the potential of oil and gas reserves in the Sulu Sea.

Aside from ExxonMobil, Pamalakaya said Australian mining firm NorAsia was also reportedly set to conduct oil explorations in the Cebu-Bohol Strait, while Dutch-owned Premium Oil will also launch offshore explorations in the Ragay Gulf of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Quezon . #

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Aquino pressed to review Manila-Tokyo trade deal

By Gerry Albert Corpuz in Manila, Philippines and Tomada Sakaguchi in Tokyo City, Japan

Via-PLDT-The leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday urged leading presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to immediately review the controversial Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement(Jpepa) which was ratified by the Philippine Senate in 2008.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap the review and possible abrogation of the bilateral trade pact between the Philippines and Japan could happen in the first 100 days of the Aquino administration.

“This is a make or break for Aquino and his Yellow Republic. We are giving him 100 days to serve the death sentence to this one-sided agreement whose only claim to fame is the awarding of 30 caregiving jobs to 30 Filipino nurses in 2009,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said the Japanese government and the Japanese corporations are engaged in indirect bribe to ensure the incoming Aquino administration will continue to uphold and support the anti-Filipino economic and partnership treaty.

Citing a recent report of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Hicap said the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) recently renewed its offer to provide at least $ 700 million in aid to the Aquino administration.

NEDA said the JICA country assistance to the Philippines is meant for the country to achieve its next Medium Term Philippine Development Plan that involves support programs and projects in the areas of capacity building, operation and maintenance and climate change. But Pamalakaya’s Hicap said the money was meant to fast track the implementation of Jpepa.

“This seven hundred million US dollar economic aid to RP is part of the pro-Jpepa offensive of Japan. If this is not a direct or indirect bribe, then what is it? A charity work from Japanese corporate syndicates? We don’t think so,” Hicap added.

According to Pamalakaya, a single 3,000-gross ton Japanese factory ship is capable of harvesting 50,000 metric tons of tuna a year or 150 metric tons of tuna per day. Based on industry standards, a single factory ship could earn as much as $32.5 million in gross profitsfrom the sale of skipjack tuna.

Pamalakaya said the bulk of the profit will come from the remaining 35 percent of the 50,000metric ton tuna catch, which is $210 million. “A single medium size factory ship thus will earn $242.5 million a year, and since Japan at the very least, employs four factory ships in its regular tuna fishing expedition per country, we expect them to earn a total of $ 970 million or P43.5 B per year,” the group said.

At present the local tuna industry yearly produces 400,000 metric tons of tuna, with 15 percent of the production going to domestic market and 85 percent for exports.

The European Union accounts for 40 percent of the country’s fresh and canned tuna exports or roughly 64,000 metric tons per year. The rest of the exports are shipped to tuna markets of Japan and the United States.

Pamalakaya recalled that during the Senate deliberation of Jpepa, Sen. Aquino voted against the controversial treaty. The group said Aquino can challenge anew the treaty by calling the Philippine Senate to review Jpepa and compel the 23-member of the August chamber to recall its ratification in 2008. #

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Fishers group asked CBCP support vs. Las Vegas like casino in Manila Bay

By Bb. Joyce Cabral

MANILA, Philippines-A militant alliance of small fishermen on Wednesday revealed a close associate and crony of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was given the franchise to develop portions of a reclaimed area in Roxas Boulevard to construct a Las Vegas type gambling complex in Manila Bay.

In a press statement, the activist Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and staunch ally Anakpawis party list on Sunday appealed to the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to join the groups’ crusade against the ambitious multi-billion casino project in Manila Bay.

“To the archbishops and bishops of the CBCP, please hear and support our appeal and prayer against this giant gambling escapade of Malacanang and its cherished cronies,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said Enrique Razon Jr., head of multinational port operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) and a known crony of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has bought a gaming company that will build a casino at the Bagong Nayong Pilipino project.

“This is ridiculous, very, very ridiculous. Please allow us to inform the bishops that the Supreme Court ruling is clear——-Malacanang should rehabilitate Manila Bay and should not transform the bay into a gambling capital of Asia is contrary to the high court decision,” said Hicap in reference to the Dec. 2008 Supreme Court decision mandating the national government and concerned government agencies to restore Manila Bay back to its historic and proud past.

Hicap learned last week that Razon had acquired a controlling stake in Bloombury investment Holdings Inc from Jose Ch. Alvarez, owner of Columbian Motors Corp. The Pamalakaya leader said Alvarez sold his controlling interest in Bloombury, one of the companies tapped to develop the ambitious $ 15 billion Las Vegas casino project to be installed along the 120 reclaimed area in Manila Bay.

“The bishops are politically and morally obliged to confront this gambling project of the ruling Mafia in Malacanang. That is one their callings as far as the Christian faith and the people’s collective interest are concerned,” the Pamalakaya official added.

According to a news report, Bloombury is one of four companies granted a provisional license by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to set up and operate gaming and entertainment facilities at the Bay Shore Bagong Nayong Pilipino Entertainment City project at the Manila Bay reclamation area in Parañaque.

The other companies granted licenses were Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc., the partnership between the Andrew L. Tan-led Alliance Global, Inc. and casino-resort operator Genting Hong Kong Ltd., SM Investments Corp. and Universal Entertainment Corp. (formerly Azure Corp.), which makes gaming machines and is a co-investor in the Wynn chain of casino hotels in Las Vegas and Macau.

“The issue of Manila Bay casino project is not only about cronyism and the despicable partnership between Arroyo and his cherished client-Mr. Razon. At stake here is the marine environment, the livelihood of 3 million people in Manila Bay and the national interest of 92 million Filipinos. Sad to say, President Arroyo sacrificed these stakes to make more money and make his crony the happiest and the luckiest guy on earth.

Pagcor president and chief operating officer Rafael Butch Francisco announced on Monday the construction at the Bay Shore Entertainment City was expected to start in the latter part of the year. Sources said the Razon’s entry into the Pagcor project came after his exit from the power transmission business. Last month, Henry Sy Jr.’s OneTaipan Holdings, Inc. bought Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. from Razon’s group for $350 million.

Pagcor said the construction is expected to start in the third quarter at an estimated cost of $400 million for the first phase. According to the state-run gambling corporation, the complex will include two five-star luxury hotel towers of over 1,000 rooms within a world-class entertainment and convention facility.

The Pamalakaya fisherfolk alliance said the construction of Manila Bay casino similar to first-rate casinos in Las Vegas and Macau will trigger the displacement of 3 million coastal people in Metro Manila and Cavite who are still dependent to fishing as principal source of livelihood, and any move to transform or convert Manila Bay for other purposes like the $15-billion casino project will have a killing impact on the livelihood of small fishermen, aside from the fact that they would be demolished from their communities, once construction of support structures and establishments begins.

“The irrevocable desire of President Arroyo and Mr. Razon to convert Manila Bay into an international gateway for big time gambling addicts both international and domestic is not only blasphemous, but also detestable and highly revolting. This government is sacrificing the future of Manila Bay fishers at the altar of corporate interest and gambling addiction of the international and domestic elites,” the Pamalakaya said.

The militant group said the construction of Manila Bay casino will also trigger reclamation of other coastal shores along Manila Bay that will result to eviction of fishing communities and coastal villagers along the bay.

Pamalakaya recalled from 1992 to 1995, the demolitions of coastal shanties became an everyday ordeal in Pasay Reclamation area. Houses were uprooted on almost day-to-day basis. Small and big time bribery to divide the communities were conducted to facilitate the demolition of homes as if the words and orders of Malacañang were the words of God in this country.

The setting up of casino and resorts, including SM’s Mall of Asia was all in the master plan of the government known as Manila Bay Master Development Plan that officially started during the time of President Ramos and projected to end between 2020 and 2025.

Pamalakaya said 3,500 small fisherfolk and their families in Pasay Reclamation Area, and another 3,000 coastal and urban poor families along the coastal shores of Parañaque were evicted by the government of former President Ramos to pave way for the construction of the proposed casino that would make the Philippines the Las Vegas of Asia.#

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Fishers slam Arroyo crony over Las Vegas casino project in Manila Bay

By Bb. Joyce Cabral, Billy Javier Reyes and Cherry de Belen

MANILA, Philippines-A militant alliance of small fishermen on Wednesday revealed a close associate and crony of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was given the franchise to develop portions of a reclaimed area in Roxas Boulevard to construct a Las Vegas type gambling complex in Manila Bay.

In a press statement, the activist Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said Enrique Razon Jr., head of multinational port operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) and a known crony of President Arroyo has bought a gaming company that will build a casino at the Bagong Nayong Pilipino project.

“This is ridiculous, very, very ridiculous. The Supreme Court ruling is clear—Malacanang should rehabilitate Manila Bay and transforming the bay into a gambling capital of Asia is contrary to the high court decision,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap referring to the Dec. 2008 Supreme Court decision mandating the national government and concerned government agencies to restore Manila Bay back to its historic and proud past.

Hicap learned the other day that Razon had acquired a controlling stake in Bloombury investment Holdings Inc from Jose Ch. Alvarez, owner of Columbian Motors Corp. The Pamalakaya leader said Alvarez sold his controlling interest in Bloombury, one of the companies tapped to develop the ambitious $ 15 billion Las Vegas casino project to be installed along the 120 reclaimed area in Manila Bay.

According to a news report, Bloombury is one of four companies granted a provisional license by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to set up and operate gaming and entertainment facilities at the Bay Shore Bagong Nayong Pilipino Entertainment City project at the Manila Bay reclamation area in Parañaque.

The other companies granted licenses were Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc., the partnership between the Andrew L. Tan-led Alliance Global, Inc. and casino-resort operator Genting Hong Kong Ltd., SM Investments Corp. and Universal Entertainment Corp. (formerly Azure Corp.), which makes gaming machines and is a co-investor in the Wynn chain of casino hotels in Las Vegas and Macau.

“The issue of Manila Bay casino project is not only about cronyism and the despicable partnership between Arroyo and his cherished client-Mr. Razon. At stake here is the marine environment, the livelihood of 3 million people in Manila Bay and the national interest of 92 million Filipinos, and President Arroyo sacrificed these stakes to make more money and make his crony the happiest and the luckiest guy on earth.

Pagcor president and chief operating officer Rafael Butch Francisco announced on Monday the construction at the Bay Shore Entertainment City was expected to start in the latter part of the year. Sources said the Razon’s entry into the Pagcor project came after his exit from the power transmission business. Last month, Henry Sy Jr.’s OneTaipan Holdings, Inc. bought Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. from Razon’s group for $350 million.

Pagcor said the construction is expected to start in the third quarter at an estimated cost of $400 million for the first phase. According to the state-run gambling corporation, the complex will include two five-star luxury hotel towers of over 1,000 rooms within a world-class entertainment and convention facility.

The Pamalakaya fisherfolk alliance said the construction of Manila Bay casino similar to first-rate casinos in Las Vegas and Macau will trigger the displacement of 3 million coastal people in Metro Manila and Cavite who are still dependent to fishing as principal source of livelihood, and any move to transform or convert Manila Bay for other purposes like the $15-billion casino project will have a killing impact on the livelihood of small fishermen, aside from the fact that they would be demolished from their communities, once construction of support structures and establishments begins.

“The irrevocable desire of President Arroyo and Mr. Razon to convert Manila Bay into an international gateway for big time gambling addicts both international and domestic is not only blasphemous, but also detestable and highly revolting. This government is sacrificing the future of Manila Bay fishers at the altar of corporate interest and gambling addiction of the international and domestic elites,” the Pamalakaya said.

The militant group said the construction of Manila Bay casino will also trigger reclamation of other coastal shores along Manila Bay that will result to eviction of fishing communities and coastal villagers along the bay.

Pamalakaya recalled from 1992 to 1995, the demolitions of coastal shanties became an everyday ordeal in Pasay Reclamation area. Houses were uprooted on almost day-to-day basis. Small and big time bribery to divide the communities were conducted to facilitate the demolition of homes as if the words and orders of Malacañang were the words of God in this country.

The setting up of casino and resorts, including SM’s Mall of Asia was all in the master plan of the government known as Manila Bay Master Development Plan that officially started during the time of President Ramos and projected to end between 2020 and 2025.

Pamalakaya said 3,500 small fisherfolk and their families in Pasay Reclamation Area, and another 3,000 coastal and urban poor families along the coastal shores of Parañaque were evicted by the government of former President Ramos to pave way for the construction of the proposed casino that would make the Philippines the Las Vegas of Asia.#

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30-boat fluvial protest kicked off despite Tsunami alert

By Pepsi La Loma

Legazpi City, Albay- Despite of the Tsunami alert brought about by the 8.8 killer earthquake in Chile yesterday, fisherfolk activists belonging to Lakas ng mga Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol) staged on Sunday a 30-boat fluvial parade to demand the next elected president to pursue the repeal of the 12-year old Fisheries Code of 1998.

“While we consider the tsunami alert this morning and early afternoon, we still went on with our 30-boat fluvial protest against Fisheries Code of 1998. A potential tsunami will not stop us from delivering our political and electoral message today. We will strongly ask the next elected President of the Philippine Republic to certify as urgent the repeal of Fisheries Code of 1998. It is time to end this 12-year old running nightmare,” said Salvador France, chair of Lambat-Bicol and the vice-chairperson of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).

“The next President should also call on Congress to craft a new fisheries law that will uphold the collective rights of millions of fisherfolk and will protect the seas from big time exploiters and first-rate profiteers in the backward fishing industry. A tsunami of protest awaits the next President if he fails to correct an injustice known as Fisheries Code of 1998,” added France.

The anti-Fisheries Code fluvial parade kicked off this morning and passed several coastal barangays of the towns of Bacacay, Pag-asa, Sto. Domingo and culminated in Legazpi City harbor in Albay province, with fisherfolk leaders and activists on board of fishing boats chanting “Fisheries Code of 1998, Ibasura!” (Junk Fisheries Code of 1998!) as they crossed coastal barangays on their way to the main wharf in the region’s main capital.

France said the protest ended at 12:00 noon, or an hour earlier set by Philvocs on the possible effect of the killer earthquake in Chile to nations along the Pacific belt. Nineteen coastal provinces all over the country are facing the Pacific stretch where tidal waves are expected to occur. But early this evening, Philvocs cancelled the alert level it earlier raised.

Prior to the 30-boat fluvial parade in Bicol, anti-Fisheries Code protests were staged by Pamalakaya and its regional and provincial chapters this month. On Feb.9 and Feb.10, and Feb.23 lake fisherfolk in Laguna Lake staged caravans demanding for the immediate scrapping of the fisheries law.

On Feb.25, some 100 Pamalakaya members from Cebu, Bohol and Negros kicked off a swim protest in Mactan Channel in Cebu City to demand the immediate repeal of the 12-year old controversial fisheries law.

The law passed by Congress in 1998, three months before the 1998 presidential election was largely blamed by fisherfolk organizations all over the Philippines for the sorry state of local fisheries in the country.

France said the Fisheries Code of 1998 is more of a lip service rather than a legacy on empowerment for the 1.4 million small fisherfolk and 10 million of their direct dependents.

The activist fisherfolk leader noted that while the 12-year fisheries act recognized the preferential rights of small fishermen to use the 15-kilometer municipal fishing ground, it also allows commercial fishing vessels to penetrate municipal fishing areas by virtue of a provision that once a municipal fishing area is more than 7-fathoms deep, commercial fishing operators are allowed to come in and capture fish to the detriment of small fishermen.

France lamented Fisheries Code of 1998 also enhanced the privatization of communal fishing grounds and coastal communities through the controversial Fishpond Lease Agreement and Foreshore Lease Agreement (FLAs) where big business is allowed to transform fishing areas into fishpond and aquaculture ponds, put up eco-tourism projects and export-oriented undertakings.

He said the 12-year old fish law reduced scope of fishing areas due to imposition of restrictive measures such as color coding and zoning ordinances that prevent small fishermen from going to one municipal fishing town to another. On the other hand, the government courtesy of the Fisheries Code imposed burdensome taxes and fees on fishers’ boats and gears, including multiple fees on simple violations of the code.

Lambat-Bicol and Pamalakaya said the 12-year old fisheries law merely transformed small fisherfolk into sidekicks of law enforcers. As members of Bantay Dagat, small fisherfolk are employed to watch and monitor their small fisherfolk colleagues suspected of engaging in dynamite and illegal fishing, while authorities let go the big fish engaged in bigger crimes against the fisherfolk and environment.

Pamalakaya said the repeal of the Fisheries Code of 1998 will be presented as an electoral agenda during the presidential forum billed Pamalakaya Fisherfolk Academy 2010 edition, which the group will call next month.

In 2004, Pamalakaya and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) had a joint presidential forum which was attended by the late Fernando Poe Jr. In 2007, Pamalakaya called the first edition of the fisherfolk academy but only San Juan Mayor JV Ejercito, who was rumored to be running for senatorial election that time attended the fisherfolk forum.

Pamalakaya said invitations will be off this week and will be sent to Nacionalista Party (NP) standard bearer Sen. Manuel Villar, Liberal Party presidential bet Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, Lakas-Kampi merger party bet Gilbert Teodoro, former President Joseph Estrada of Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) and independent candidates Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas Movement, Senator Richard Gordon, Olongapo councilor JC de los Reyes and environmentalist Nicanor Perlas. #

Fluvial protesters demand social justice for small fishermen

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