Tag Archives: Atienza

DENR chief told: GMA, not LGU has last say on Mindoro mining project

By Margie Duran Floresco, contributor

Manila, Philippines-Leftwing militants belonging to the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday said the statement of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Joselito Atienza that local government unit of Mindoro has the last say on the controversial nickel project on the island was misleading and extremely absurd.

“That’s not true, that’s not true. The mining project in Mindoro Island is a national flagship project and therefore, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has the last and final say on whether this nickel extraction escapade in the island should proceed or not,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Hicap said local government officials can voice their opposition to Intex Resources nickel exploration, but it is still President Arroyo who will decide whether to allow or disallow the Norwegian mining giant to push through with its’ project.

“The nickel project has the seal of approval of Malacanang and was billed as one of the flagship projects of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. If Atienza wants to kill the project he should have revoked the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) issued on Oct.14 by his office and tell Mrs. Arroyo to stop this corporate madness for the sake of the environment and collective interest of the people,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Atienza said the ECC granted to Intex Resources was just one of the requirements for the nickel mining project to commence and it us up to the local government if they allow the project to proceed. The environment secretary explained that could not arbitrarily cancel the ECC given to Intex because there are laws to follow, stressing that the cancellation of ECC will send wrong a signal to foreign investors.

But Atienza said that if the project is proven to cover a watershed area, as claimed by those who opposed to the project, then the ECC would be automatically moot in accordance with the law.

But Pamalakaya’s Hicap rebuked Atienza, and charged the environment secretary of gambling people’s lives and environment in the name of the government’s obsession for mining investments and fat commissions.

“How come the ECC of Intex Resources was approved by DENR? How come the people were not consulted? Mr. Atienza is not an expert on environmental concern as far as the Filipino public is concerned. He is just a limelight getter or an attention getter from boxing champ Manny Pacquiao,” Hicap added.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya appealed to the Norwegian government to compel Intex Resources to pullout its mining investment in Mindoro, citing the disastrous impact of the project, which will initially displace around 20,000 residents, mostly members of the Mangyan tribe.

“The Norwegian government should convince Intex Resources to drop its mining investment in Mindoro like a hot potato. This project will put the European state in a very, very bad position and standing in the international community. While we recognize and pay high respect to the efforts of the Norwegian government as third party facilitator to the peace talks between the Manila government and the communist led National Democratic Front of the Philippines, we do not subscribe to this kind of destructive escapade,” the group said.

The militant group commended Mindoro Oriental Gov. Arman Panaligan and Vice-Governor Estela Aceron for sticking to their position against the nickel mining project in the island. But Pamalakaya advised the two top local government officials of the island province to bring the battle of the island people against the mining project to Malacanang Palace.

“The fight against the mining project should not stop at Secretary Atienza. The next and the penultimate battle should reach Malacanang and President Arroyo, since the Chief Executive and her policy on liberalized and all-out mining should be blamed for the current woes suffered by the people of Mindoro,” added Pamalakaya. #

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(UPDATE)Southern Tagalog farmers say new land reform law will bring catastrophes to land tillers

by Axel Pinpin, contributor

Manila, Philippines – The militant KASAMA-TK (Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan) expressed dismay over the extension of 20-year old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and warned of massive re-concentration of land to the hands of big landlords and foreign companies in the country.

“In the midst of destruction and damaged brought by typhoon Ondoy to the agriculture sector in the region, we should gear for more catastrophic events that will be brought by CARP Extension with Reforms (CARPER),” Imelda Lacandazo, spokesperson of KASAMA-TK said during a picket-protest in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform in Quezon City where more than a hundred of farmers staged a die-in to dramatized their condition.

The Provincial Agriculture Office in Laguna reported that 7,300 hectares of rice field were submerged during the height of flood caused by the overflowing of Laguna Lake that leads to a 21% reduction of the total production of rice in the province.
Lacandazo noted that even before the typhoon, rice fields in Laguna were already flooded leaving the farmers in destitute after the cropping season.

According to the group, this situation is aggravated by high land rental and usury, low wages of farm workers and low-prices of agricultural produce.

Earlier, the group picketed in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources while their leaders are presenting the group’s demand in a dialogue with Sec. Lito Atienza. They are pressing the DENR to stop the construction of Laiban Dam in Tanay, Rizal saying that it will displace indigenous people in nine communities.

The group is also calling to immediately discontinue the R1 Coastal Road Extension Project in Bacoor, Cavite adding that 100,000 families will lost their houses and source of livelihood.

“Kailan pa matututo ang gubyerno sa mga mapangwasak nilang proyekto? Kitang-kita naman na kung hindi sa mga diumano’y proyektong pangkaunlaran ng gubyerno, hindi sana natin sasapitin ang mga ganitong kalamidad,” Pedro Gonzales, secretary general of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya in Southern Tagalog (PAMALAKAYA-TK) stated in his speech during the rally.

Gonzales also blamed the Laguna Lake Development Authority for its negligence in controlling the structures built along the shore of the lake that caused flooding in the nearby communities.

The leaders of KASAMA-TK and their provincial chapters held a dialogue with the secretary of DAR to discuss several agrarian disputes in the Southern Tagalog region.

The agrarian cases, according to Lacandazo, have long been keeping the farmers landless in spite of the implementation of the bogus CARP. She mentioned the Hacienda Yulo in Laguna, Camella Homes owned by Manny Villar in Batangas and Ayala Properties in Cavite among others.

“The conditions of the farmers are miserable, with the CARPER now signed into RA 9700, it will be wretched,” the group added.

Meanwhile, about 1,000 calamity farmer victims in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog region on Tuesday night are gearing up for a rural camp-out at the national office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to press their 10-point immediate demand to Malacanang, the DAR and the Department of Agriculture, which they argued will address the rural crisis worsened by storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng.

In a joint press statement, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Anakpawis party list, the Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) will present the set of demands on the eve of their long march from DAR to Malacanang on Oct.21 dubbed as Farmers’ March for Land, Justice and Rehabilitation”

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said the devastating impact of typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng is best addressed by the following measures:

1. Free distribution of land to landless and land lacking farmers all over the country. In particular, farmers from Central Luzon represented by AMGL demanded the immediate and unconditional free distribution of 375 hectares of land in San Miguel, Bulacan allegedly landgrabbed by Rep. Luis Villafuerte, the 3,100 hectares of prime agricultural lands inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation and the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita owned by the family of the late President Corazon Aquino in Tarlac province.

In Southern Tagalog, peasant groups demanded the free distribution of all agricultural lands owned and controlled by rich families like the Ayalas and the Yulos in the region. Kasama-TK also pressed the government to stop all Calabarzon projects in Southern Tagalog, including the controversial Laiban dam project.

2. Support housing projects for farmers and rural people whose homes were destroyed or uprooted at the height of tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng.
3. Rehabilitation of farms and granting of seeds and seedlings for rice, corn, vegetables and d other farm crops
4. Financial grant of about P 10,000 to P 15,000 per hectare
5. Zero interest credit line to the Land Bank of the Philippines amounting to P 10,000 to
P 15,000 per hectare
6. Provisions for farm implements such as tractors, hand tractors and carabaos.
7. Setting up of potable water supply.
8. Moratorium on irrigation fees imposed by the National Irrigation Authority and private irrigation systems.
9. Livelihood to rural people
10. Automatic repudiation of farm debts, if not moratorium in payment of principals and interests on acquired loans from landlords and local financial institutions. (With reports from Roy Morilla and Bb.Joyce Cabral

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Lake groups launch 10k signature drive vs. NCHS

By Ms Sugar Hicap and Billy Javier Reyes

Lakeshore groups in Rizal and Laguna provinces belonging to the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), its regional chapter Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog and the multi-sectoral environmental group Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLMM) has launched a signature drive seeking the immediate and conditional dismantling of Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NCHS), which the groups blamed the massive flooding of lake towns around Laguna Lake.

In a joint press statement, Pamalakaya and SLMM said the Laguna Lake and its people will always be in state of across-the-lake flooding and constant danger, unless, the national government and lake authorities decide the dismantling of the structure, which it said is the biggest obstruction to the smooth and logical flow of flood waters to Manila Bay.

Pamalakaya national chair and SLLM convener Fernando Hicap said anti-NCHS groups hope to gather at least 10,000 signatures and will submit these to Senate and the House of Representatives once Congress resumes session next month.

“10,000 signatures will be enough to convince lawmakers about the necessity of removing this structure from Laguna Lake. If that is not enough, then we will gather more and engage in pound-for-pound fight for the dismantling of Napindan hydraulic monster,” Hicap added.

The Pamalakaya leader said signatures for the dismantling of NCHS will come from several towns of Rizal, Laguna and on the part of the National Capital Region, the signatures will come from Taguig, Pateros and Muntinlupa.

The signature campaign will also ask the national government and the local government units to put an end to all reclamation and road dike projects along Laguna Lake, which Hicap said is also one of the factors why Laguna Lake swallowed 30 towns in the lake , because these projects also prevented the smooth flow of waters in the 90,000 hectare-lake on its way to Pasig River and then to Manila Bay.

The 10,000 signature campaign will also demand the formation of independent body that will investigate and will look into the current state of Laguna Lake. The groups suggested that the body shall be composed of representatives from the Philippine Senate, the House of Representatives, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the other church organizations, environmental groups and experts, representatives from people’s organizations. Leaders of Pamalakaya and SLLM eye Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno to head the probe body.

Pamalakaya and SLLM asserted that towns surrounding Laguna Lake were already submerged in waters ahead of the arrival of tropical storm Ondoy.

Reports from field coordinators of Pamalakaya and SLMM in Rizal and Laguna provinces said fisherfolk and lakeshore residents had already noticed the rising water level in Laguna Lake and excess waters had spilled along in 30 towns in Rizal and Laguna provinces, and in the National Capital Region before Ondoy pounded heavy rains on September 26.

“The disaster is bound to happen. It is a perfect storm in the making because the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) refuses to open the NCHS that will dispose excess waters in the lake. Tropical storm Ondoy only fast tracked the commencement of the super calamity,” they said.

Hicap lamented: “We have been sending hundreds of notices to LLDA General Manager Edgar Manda that the lake authority should open NCHS to prevent the happening of a Great Flood all over the lake and in Metro Manila, but Mr. Manda is either not listening to this fearless forecast, or he is not doing his assignment or he is ignorant of the issue and its consequences to more than 6 million lakeshore people.”

“Where will Mrs. Arroyo and Mr. Manda relocate the people of Laguna Lake? In the moon? In the purgatory? ” the Pamalakaya leader asked.

The NHCS was built in 1983 to prevent or lessen the increase of salinity from Manila Bay and pollution from the Pasig River from entering Laguna de Bay during times of reverse flow. The NHCS is found on the confluence of Marikina and Pateros-Taguig rivers with Pasig River. This confluence is also the downstream endpoint of the Napindan Channel, which is the upper part of Pasig River that connects to Laguna de Bay.

Aside from preventing the reverse flow of Pasig River, the NHCS is also used for flood control. During the rainy season, most of the flooding along the Pasig River area is due to the increased water flow coming from Marikina River.

The Manggahan Floodway in Pasig City was constructed to divert much of this water from Marikina River directly into Laguna de Bay. By also closing the NHCS during times of rain, the water is effectively dammed in Laguna de Bay preventing it from flooding the downstream portions of Pasig River (with reports from Lollipop de los Reyes and Gerry Albert Corpuz). #

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Fishers group urges House, Senate to prioritize Laguna Lake probe too

By Billy Javier Reyes and Rey Manangan

Binangonan, Rizal- The lake wide fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and staunch ally- the multisectoral alliance Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) on Thursday urged leaders of the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives to also prioritize the legislative inquiry on Laguna Lake which is still under 14.5 meter deep since tropical storm Ondoy hit the country on Sept.26.

“Today is Oct.16 or about 20 days since storm Ondoy turned Laguna Lake into a virtual water world. Do we need 40 days before Congress takes up an inquiry on the ill-fated 90,000 hectare lake? Excuse us, but Laguna Lake, its people and environment are not dead to wait for 40-day ritual,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

Hicap added: “Let me remind our lawmakers that 30 towns and cities of Rizal and Laguna provinces and the National Capital Region were swallowed by Laguna Lake at the height of storm Ondoy affecting 2.2 million out of the 6 million fisherfolk and lake shore population. But the investigation is not moving as if the issue on hand is just a dime-a-dozen concern”.

The Pamalakaya leader noted that only a handful of lawmakers agreed to their proposal for an all-out investigation on the current state of Laguna Lake. They are Senator Jamby Madrigal in the Senate, Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon and militant party list lawmakers Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casino and Neri Colmenaras of Bayan Muna, Luzviminda Ilagan and Liza Maza of Gabriela Women’s Party, Raymond Palatino of Kabataan Party and Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod of Anakpawis party list.

“The Senate has 23 senators and the House of Representatives has 255 congressmen. But only a few good men and women managed to rise above the occasion. It is not too late for the leadership of both Houses and their peers to come to their senses and start the ball rolling on Laguna Lake catastrophe,” added Hicap.

The lake-based groups said Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Prospero Nograles should discourage members of the Senate and the House from going into vacation or abroad and instead call for special sessions that will look into the impacts of storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng and root the causes of the twin catastrophe that plagued the almost entire island of Luzon. Both houses are set to have their recess on Oct.15.

“No more foreign trips please, and the lawmakers should continue their legislative work by pursuing these investigations in aid of legislation and by going back to their respective districts and find out the needs of their devastated constituents,” Hicap added.

Prior to typhoon Ondoy, Pamalakaya and SLLM asserted that towns and cities surrounding the lake were already flooded. The groups attributed the flooding to the closure of the NCHS that prevented excess waters of Laguna Lake from passing through Pasig River on its way to Manila Bay. Both groups said at the height of typhoon Ondoy, the Napindan channel was still closed impounding more waters to the lake and later spilled to 30 towns in Rizal, Laguna and Metro Manila.

Last week, the Social Action Center of San Pablo City in Laguna said the mass flooding affected 20 towns of Laguna, excluding several towns in Rizal province and had displaced around 750,248 people mostly fisherfolk, farmers and urban poor.

The most affected towns are the towns of Binan where 45,125 families or 198,700 people were displaced, followed by San Pedro (25,606 families or 153,636 people affected), Sta.Cruz (20, 498 families or 102,590 people displaced) Sta. Rosa (14,951 families or 77,052 people displaced), Cabuyao (7,670 families or 46,001 persons affected), Calamba (8,024 families or 33, 819 people affected) and Los Banos (5,496 families or 29,730 people displaced.

Pamalakaya and SLLM suggested the following names and offices to be invited or subpoenaed for the congressional inquiry, whether separate or joint congressional inquiry.

Their list includes environment Secretary Joselito Atienza, Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) General Manager Edgar Manda, the governors of Rizal and Laguna provinces, mayors and local government officials of affected 30 towns and cities surrounding the lake, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the officials of Board of Investment (BOI), the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) and the Office of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita to represent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. #

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Manila Bay fishers staged 70- boat fluvial protest against baywide reclamation, demolition

By Mama Mila Liguasan and Billy Javier Reyes

Pasay City- Fisherfolk affected by ongoing government projects in Manila Bay yesterday staged a 70-boat fluvial protest from Barangay Sineguelasan in Bacoor, Cavite to the coastal shore of the Philippine Senate to demand an immediate stop on all reclamation activities along the bay, including the construction of the controversial R-1 Expressway Extension Project and the demolition of some 26,000 coastal families.

The fluvial action was organized by the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), its regional chapter Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog and staunch allies Samahang Magdaragat ng Bacoor, Cavite (SMBC), Anakpawis party list and the Alyansa ng mga Magdaragat ng Bacoor Inc (AMB). Small fishermen from Paranaque and Las Pinas also joined the water-based mass action.

The 70-boat fluvial protest participated by more than 300 fishermen across Bacoor Bay and parts of Manila Bay in Las Pinas and Paranaque disembarked at the coastal shore of the Philippine Senate by lunch time. At the Senate, they were met by Senator Jamby Madrigal, chair of the Senate Committee on Environment, who invited their leaders as resource persons to the 1 pm senate hearing called by the opposition senator to investigate the impact of government projects and reclamation activities on Manila Bay environment.

“The twin catastrophe across Luzon left by storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng should serve as lesson to the current occupant in Malacanang and their cherished clients from the corporate world. The unstoppable greed for super profits of big business clients of Malacanang and the equally unbridled fetish of state officials for fat kick backs and huge commissions should be blamed for this full-blown humanitarian crisis and all time high environmental disaster,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Hicap added: “Enough is enough. The government master plan of destruction in Manila Bay should be smashed into pieces at all cost.”

The Pamalakaya official said the infrastructure projects undertaken by the government in partnership with foreign investors along Manila Bay had destroyed the capability of the bay to provide livelihood to millions of small fishermen and residents along the bay, adding that government destructive projects which started in the late 70s and early 80s caused the alarming reduction in the average fish catch of small fisherfolk from 5 kilos to 10 kilos daily, to an average 1 kilo to 3 kilos a day.

Hicap said government reclamation projects which served as host grounds for industrial, commercial and infrastructure projects will continue to frustrate efforts aimed at rehabilitating Manila Bay. He said the demolition of fishing communities and urban poor is not the solution to the problem.

The fluvial protester said the condition of Manila Bay further deteriorated when previous governments allowed the reclamation of more than 20,000 hectares of coastal areas since the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos. Government and private establishments like Folk Arts Theater, Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Coconut Palace, the GSIS and the Senate building and now the SM Mall of Asia were constructed along these reclaimed portions of Manila Bay.

Pamalakaya-Timog Katagalugan chair Pedro Gonzalez said the R-1 Expressway Extension project had already reclaimed 60 percent of the target 7,000 hectares of coastal areas along Bacoor Bay that includes the municipalities of Bacoor, Kawit, Binakayan, Noveleta and Cavite City. He said the government also intends to reclaim another 5,000 hectares of submerged public lands in Cavite City to expand the Sangley Point Naval Base which the government will develop into a major international seaport in Southern Tagalog region.

Gonzales maintained that aside from destroying the marine environment and killing the livelihood of coastal people, these reclamation and other government sanctioned projects will displace 26,000 fisherfolk families and urban poor residents along Bacoor Bay. Last year, the government demolished 1,000 families in several coastal villages of Bacoor.

Pamalakaya recalled that on June 21, 2007, President Arroyo signed Executive Order No. 629 directing the PRA to develop Sangley Point in Cavite City into a logistical hub with modern seaport and an airport, citing the R-1 expressway extension project as enabling component. The group said the R-1 extension project resulted to diminished fish catch and destruction of remaining corals and mangroves in Bacoor Bay. The same Cavite road project is also being blamed for the flooding in Bacoor and nearby coastal towns in the province.

Pamalakaya and allied groups said Palace top officials and other government officials like environment secretary Joselito Atienza, Metro Manila Development Authority chair Bayani Fernando, Laguna Lake Development Authority general Manager Edgar Manda and Cavite governor Ayong Maliksi are exploiting the Supreme Court ruling on Manila Bay clean up to effectively remove small fishermen and urban poor from their main source of livelihood and coastal villages to enable the national government to pursue flagship projects funded by big business groups #

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Fishers ready to face off with execs on Laguna Lake flooding

SENATE HEARING ON OCTOBER 9
Fishers ready to face off with execs on Laguna Lake flooding

By Billy Javier Reyes, Gerry Albert Corpuz and Rey Manangan

Binangonan, Rizal- Leaders of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) will come in full force on October 9, the date the Senate Committee on Environment chaired by Senator Jamby Madrigal will conduct an investigation on the alarming water level in Laguna Lake and the mass flooding surrounding Asia’s 3rd largest lake.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap will lead the 15-man fisherfolk team who will act as resource persons for Laguna Lake and Manila Bay who will talk on the connection of reclamation projects in Laguna Lake and Manila Bay and their direct link to the mass flooding in Metro Manila and nearby provinces and the critical water level in Laguna Lake.

Aside from Hicap, other Pamalakaya leaders who will act as resource persons are Pamalakaya vice chairperson Pedro Gonzalez who will represent the Laguna side of Laguna Lake, Romy Antazo of Pamalakaya-Rizal and Save Laguna Lake Movement, Salvador France, Pamalakaya vice chair for Luzon and scores of local fisherfolk leaders from Rizal, Laguna and Cavite.

The Pamalakaya leader said his team is expected to raise the issue pertaning to the closure of Napindan Hydraulic Control Structures (NCHS) in Laguna Lake, which he blamed for the recent rise in the water level of the lake and the mass flooding of Metro Manila and lake town parts of Rizal and Laguna provinces.

The NHCS was built in 1983 to prevent or lessen the increase of salinity from Manila Bay and pollution from the Pasig River from entering Laguna de Bay during times of reverse flow. The NHCS is found on the confluence of Marikina and Pateros-Taguig rivers with Pasig River. This confluence is also the downstream endpoint of the Napindan Channel, which is the upper part of Pasig River that connects to Laguna de Bay.

Aside from preventing the reverse flow of Pasig River, the NHCS is also used for flood control. During the rainy season, most of the flooding along the Pasig River area is due to the increased water flow coming from Marikina River. The Manggahan Floodway in Pasig City was constructed to divert much of this water from Marikina River directly into Laguna de Bay. By also closing the NHCS during times of rain, the water is effectively dammed in Laguna de Bay preventing it from flooding the downstream portions of Pasig River.

Hicap said LLDA General Manager Edgar Manda and Environment Secretary Joselito Atienza are complicating the situation by endorsing the forced eviction of 100,000 lakeshore residents mostly small fishermen and poor people who have been living in Laguna Lake surroundings for generations.

“The forced relocation of 100,000 people is not the solution. The best thing to do is to open the NCHS, which has been closed by LLDA for years now. This is the best and most logical explanation why the water level in Laguna Lake is now at an alarming level. The situation merits the opening of NCHS and let the excess waters pass through Pasig River on its way to Manila Bay,” he said.

The Pamalakaya official said LLDA chair Manda and Atienza should exercise common sense in dealing with the flood problem in connection with the rising water level of Laguna Lake, instead of displaying extreme act of paranoia and going hysterical all over the public.

“What it takes is simple science and basic logic. Right now, the water level in Laguna Lake is higher than Manila Bay, and its only logical therefore, to allow it to be disposed on its way to Manila Bay by opening the NCHS,” Hicap explained.

In a press briefing yesterday at the headquarters of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), LLDA chair Manda said typhoon “Pepeng” will dump half of the rains that tropical storm Ondoy brought to the National Capital Region on Sept.26, the water level of Laguna Lake may break its all-time record of 14.62 meters, possibly sinking more coastal barangays in Metro Manila and Rizal province.

The LLDA chief made the projection to justify the removal of some 100,000 residents, specially those residing on the shorelines of Taguig, Cainta, Pasig, Taytay and Muntinlupa, in response to the preemptive evacuation called by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

According to Manda, the waters of Laguna Lake cannot easily pass through the Napindan Channel in Taguig into the Pasig River and then to Manila Bay because of some 25,000 informal settlers blocking the passageway. He specifically identified a community of about 25,000 families in Sitio Lupang Arenda—straddling Taguig, Taytay and Cainta.

However, Pamalakaya said the people of Laguna Lake should not be deceived by the latest escapade of LLDA general manager that his recommendation is meant to spare people’s lives from the wrath of typhoon Pepeng.

“Since he assumed the LLDA general managership, what Mr. Manda really has in mind is the forcible removal of 100,000 families along the lake so Malacanang could proceed with the reclamation of 5,000 hectares in Taguig, Pateros and Muntinlupa, where an international airport glamorized with high rise condominiums and first-class hotels will be constructed,’ the fisherfolk group said.

Pamalakaya also blamed the widespread reclamation in Laguna Lake as culprits to the sudden increase in the water level of the lake for the construction of road and dikes from Taguig to Taytay (9.8 kilometers), Bicutan to Taguig (9.5 kilometers), Sta. Rosa to Calamba City section (28 kilometers) Bay to Sta.Cruz in Laguna (32 kilometers), Siniloan to Kalayaan section (28 kilometers) and Tanay section (10 kilometers).

Pamalakaya also said aside from road and dike construction, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the LLDA will proceed with the additional reclamation of lake waters in Taguig (3,000 hectares), Muntinlupa (5,000 hectares) and Los Baños in Laguna (500 hectares), which the group said will further worsen the flood problem in the National Capital Region and nearby towns of Laguna and Rizal provinces because these reclamation projects will serve as obstruction to the natural flow of waters in the lake.

Pamalakaya theorized that LLDA chair Manda is using the calamity situation as trick to really evict lakeshore folks since that has been Malacanang and the authority’s grand design which is to remove lake people to prepare Laguna Lake for the grand takeover of big businesses, who are planning to set up big infrastructure projects like high rise condominiums and posh hotels along the lake’s coastlines.

Pamalakaya said Laguna Lake fisherfolk and residents living along the shorelines are survivors. Despite the abnormal rise in water level of Laguna Lake caused by typhoon Ondoy, small fishermen in 9 towns of Rizal and 18 towns of Laguna continue their day-to-day fish catch activities, leaving their families inside flooded houses and designated evacuation centers.

The group said there are 18,000 small fisherfolk families in Laguna Lake and they are found in 9 coastal towns of Rizal and 18 towns of Laguna Lake, excluding towns and cities in the National Capital Region like Pasig, Pateros, Muntinlupa and Taguig. The group said over 500,000 lake folk population are affected by typhoon Ondoy. #

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Lakefolk to execs: “We are not dreaming of a wet Christmas”

Lakefolk to execs: “We are not dreaming of a wet Christmas

by The Pamalakaya Times Southern Tagalog bureau

Binangonan, Rizal- Lakefolk activists belonging to the militant fisherolk federation Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya)on Monday told Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Joselito Atienza and Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) General Manager Edgar Manda six million residents of Laguna Lake are not dreaming of a wet Christmas, saying government agencies should start disposing excess waters in the lake by opening the Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NCHS).

According to projections, Laguna Lake could stay flooded for three months or until December this year.

“The solution to Laguna Lake’s rising water level is simple science and basic logic, and that is to open NCHS and allow excess waters to flow to Pasig River on its way to Manila Bay. Is that hard? Is that complicated? Why they are complicating the situation. Let me set the record straight– the people of Laguna Lake are not dreaming of a wet Christmas,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

The NHCS was built in 1983 to prevent or lessen the increase of salinity from Manila Bay and pollution from the Pasig River from entering Laguna de Bay during times of reverse flow. The NHCS is found on the confluence of Marikina and Pateros-Taguig rivers with Pasig River. This confluence is also the downstream endpoint of the Napindan Channel, which is the upper part of Pasig River that connects to Laguna de Bay.

Aside from preventing the reverse flow of Pasig River, the NHCS is also used for flood control. During the rainy season, most of the flooding along the Pasig River area is due to the increased water flow coming from Marikina River. The Manggahan Floodway in Pasig City was constructed to divert much of this water from Marikina River directly into Laguna de Bay. By also closing the NHCS during times of rain, the water is effectively dammed in Laguna de Bay preventing it from flooding the downstream portions of Pasig River.

“The forced relocation of 100,000 people is not the solution. The best thing to do is to open the NCHS, which has been closed by LLDA for years now. This is the best and most logical explanation why the water level in Laguna Lake is now at an alarming level. The situation merits the opening of NCHS and let the excess waters pass through Pasig River on its way to Manila Bay,” Hicap said.

The Pamalakaya official said Atienza and Manda should exercise common sense in dealing with the flood problem in connection with the rising water level of Laguna Lake, instead of displaying extreme act of paranoia and going hysterical all over the public.

“Right now, the water level in Laguna Lake is higher than Manila Bay, and its only logical therefore, to allow it to be disposed on its way to Manila Bay by opening the NCHS,” Hicap explained.

In a press briefing laast week at the headquarters of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), LLDA chair Manda said typhoon “Pepeng” will dump half of the rains that tropical storm Ondoy brought to the National Capital Region on Sept.26, the water level of Laguna Lake may break its all-time record of 14.62 meters, possibly sinking more coastal barangays in Metro Manila and Rizal province.

The LLDA chief made the projection to justify the removal of some 100,000 residents, specially those residing on the shorelines of Taguig, Cainta, Pasig, Taytay and Muntinlupa, in response to the preemptive evacuation called by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

According to Manda, the waters of Laguna Lake cannot easily pass through the Napindan Channel in Taguig into the Pasig River and then to Manila Bay because of some 25,000 informal settlers blocking the passageway. He specifically identified a community of about 25,000 families in Sitio Lupang Arenda—straddling Taguig, Taytay and Cainta.

However, Pamalakaya said the people of Laguna Lake should not be deceived by the latest escapade of LLDA general manager that his recommendation is meant to spare people’s lives from the wrath of typhoon Pepeng.

“Since he assumed the LLDA general managership, what Mr. Manda really has in mind is the forcible removal of 100,000 families along the lake so Malacanang could proceed with the reclamation of 5,000 hectares in Taguig, Pateros and Muntinlupa, where an international airport glamorized with high rise condominiums and first-class hotels will be constructed,’ the fisherfolk group said.

Pamalakaya also blamed the widespread reclamation in Laguna Lake as culprits to the sudden increase in the water level of the lake for the construction of road and dikes from Taguig to Taytay (9.8 kilometers), Bicutan to Taguig (9.5 kilometers), Sta. Rosa to Calamba City section (28 kilometers) Bay to Sta.Cruz in Laguna (32 kilometers), Siniloan to Kalayaan section (28 kilometers) and Tanay section (10 kilometers).

Pamalakaya also said aside from road and dike construction, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the LLDA will proceed with the additional reclamation of lake waters in Taguig (3,000 hectares), Muntinlupa (5,000 hectares) and Los Baños in Laguna (500 hectares), which the group said will further worsen the flood problem in the National Capital Region and nearby towns of Laguna and Rizal provinces because these reclamation projects will serve as obstruction to the natural flow of waters in the lake.

Pamalakaya theorized that LLDA chair Manda is using the calamity situation as trick to really evict lakeshore folks since that has been Malacanang and the authority’s grand design which is to remove lake people to prepare Laguna Lake for the grand takeover of big businesses, who are planning to set up big infrastructure projects like high rise condominiums and posh hotels along the lake’s coastlines.

Pamalakaya said Laguna Lake fisherfolk and residents living along the shorelines are survivors. Despite the abnormal rise in water level of Laguna Lake caused by typhoon Ondoy, small fishermen in 9 towns of Rizal and 18 towns of Laguna continue their day-to-day fish catch activities, leaving their families inside flooded houses and designated evacuation centers. #

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National inquiry on Ondoy tragedy sought

National inquiry on Ondoy tragedy sought

The militant alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday asked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Prospero Nograles to immediately schedule a separate or joint national inquiry on the real causes behind the massive flood brought by storm Ondoy last Saturday that devastated the entire National Capital Region and the provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Bataan,Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Aurora.

“Let’s have a national inquiry on the Ondoy tragedy. Let us determine the real score behind this corporate induced and government sanctioned national disaster that killed hundreds of people and which sent hundreds of thousands of people homeless and displaced,” said Pamalakaya Vice-Chairperson for Luzon Salvador France.

The Pamalakaya leader suggested that following government agencies and officials to be summoned either by the joint congressional inquiry or separate congressional inquiry if Enrile and Nograles decide to push through with the probe on Ondoy tragedy.

– DENR Secretary Joselito Atienza
– DND secretary and NDCC chair Gilbert Teodoro
– MMDA chair Bayani Fernando
– DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno
– DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr.
– PAGASA Director Prisco Nilo
– incumbent governors of Quezon, Aurora, Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija.

Pamalakaya’s France said the 6 government officials should also take immediately a leave of absence in their respective officers or tender irrevocable resignations once the Senate and the House of Representatives begin their joint or separate inquiry.

The militant leader also said logging firms, quarrying companies and other business groups operating in Sierra Madre particularly in the provinces of Quezon, Aurora, Laguna, Rizal, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan should also be invited to shed light on the recent national calamity, which Pamalakaya said is destined to happen because of big business eternal thirst for super profits and government officials’ gluttony for fat kick backs and huge commissions.

Pamalakaya said what happened in the National Capital Region and nearby provinces in Southern and Central Luzon was directly connected and due to the all-out big time logging activities in Sierra Madre, which is supposed to be the backbone of Luzon.

“What is common to all these affected areas is that all these areas are enjoined and connected by the Sierra Madre mountain range. The present devastated state of Sierra Madre due to logging, quarrying and other forms of privatization and sell-out as promoted by the Macapagal-Arroyo government will cause more tragedy to the people,” the group said.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) yesterday said death arising from typhoon Ondoy is now 240, and many of the victims drowned in the floods, while others were electrocuted or killed in landslides, the council said.

Thirty-seven people remained missing on Tuesday while five others were injured, according to the council. Ondoy affected 1.87 million of the country’s 92 million people, with 374,890 of them now sheltering in makeshift evacuation camps, it said. #

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Fishers group rejects Sec. Teodoro’s offer on Manila Bay clean up

Fishers group rejects Sec. Teodoro’s offer on Manila Bay clean up<

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday rejected the offer of Defense secretary and Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro to involve himself in the government campaign to rehabilitate Manila Bay.

In his press conference held shortly after Lakas-Kampi-CMD ruling party announced him as the administration bet in the 2010 presidential elections, Secretary Teodoro said non-government organizations and local barangay oficials in Manila Bay are inviting him to join the clean up.

“What clean up Secretary Teodoro is talking about? The demolition of fishing villages and destruction of people’s livelihood along Manila Bay? This is the way how Malacanang, concerned government agencies and local government officials carry out clean up,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader added: ” The sum of all our fears is that Secretary Teodoro will soon apply the whip of militarization to effectively execute the Manila Bay clean up.”

Hicap said Secretary Teodoro might avail of the “reserve army of labor” provided by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for the Manila Bay clean up. He said MMDA is tasked to undertake the dismantling of illegal structures and nuisance elements along the bay according to the Supreme Court ruling on Manila Bay clean up.

“As far as Malacanang and MMDA are concerned, illegal structures and nuisance elements refer to bay fisherfolk and urban poor people sourcing their livelihood and dwelling along the bay, and therfore prime targets of Manila Bay clean up,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya said Malacanang is using the popular Manila Bay clean up as advocacy platform for Secretary Teodoro, because it knew that Manila Bay which enjoins the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan in Central Luzon, Malabon, Navotas, Caloocan, Manila, Pasay, Paranaque, and Las Pinas in National Capital Region, the Pasig River and Laguna Lake systems and Cavite in Southern Tagalog is a vote-rich area which accounts for almost one third or 30 million out of the country’s 90 million population.

But the militant group said Teodoro’s bogus crusade for the equally bogus Manila Bay clean up will soon be exposed to the fisherfolk and residents of Manila Bay area, because the real targets of the clean up as far as the govenment and its agencies and local government units are concerned are the poor coastal people along Manila Bay and not the toxic emitting, pollution spawning transnational interests in Manila Bay.

“At the end of the day, Teodoro definitely will clinch the limelight for leading the MMDA and defense army in uprooting people and their livelihood. That’s another political black eye for the Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential wannabe,” said Pamalakaya.

Last week, the Department of Budgement and Management announced that Malacanang is alloting P 1.6 billion Malacañang for the clean up, which Pamalakaya described as state capital to puruse the baywide demolition of fisherfolk and urban poor communities.

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

“Secretary Teodoro as the crusader of the Malacanang’s clean up escade will play a big role in this across-the-bay killing of peoples livelihood, housing rights and environment,” it said.

To prove that the fund was meant for “demolition jobs”, the Pamalakaya 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 our memory serves us 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 Pamalakaya.

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 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 further led to the deterioration of Manila Bay. Pamalakaya said the government since last year had already reclaimed some 12,000 hectares of coastal waters in Bacoor Bay.#

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Fishers group asks Japanese gov’t to rehab Tañon S

Fishers group asks Japanese gov’t to rehab Tañon Strait

The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday asked the Japanese government to undertake the rehabilitation of Tañon Strait, a protected seascape, which was drilled by a Japanese oil and exploration group for potential oil and gas deposists in 2005.

The militant group said the Japanese government is obliged to carry out the rehabilition, after the offshore mining group Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd. (Japex)left the country on June last year.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the Japanese government should immediately set aside some P 20-billion fund for the environmental repair and economic rehabilitation of the protected seascape separating the island provinces of Cebu and Negros, which he said was extremely devastated by the three-year offshore mining activities of the Japanese oil and gas firm.

“The Philippine government must push the Japanese government or Japex to pay for what they destroyed during the aggressive and destructive search for oil and gas deposits in Tañon Strait. The P 20-billion rehabilitation fund is just a near approximation of what Japex destroyed. It could be more, but what is important is that they have to pay for the crimes against the environment and the fishing people,” Hicap asserted.

On May 13, 2008, Japex mother company announced that Japex Philippines Ltd. had decided to relinquish its service contract effective June 20 last year because of the lack of commercial oil and gas discovery as a result of exploration work, including drilling of one exploration well.

Japex Philippines, the subsidiary of the Tokyo based Japex Ltd was established on May 26, 2006 to supervise the oil and gas exploration in Tañon Strait with a paid up capital of 2.9 billion yen.

According to Service Contract No. 46, which was awarded to Japex, the Japanese oil and gas hunt company will lead the gas and oil search with 65 percent participating interest, while the Philippine government through Kufpec Philippines, a unit of Kuwait’s state oil company, will have a 35 percent participating interest that will entail 2,500 square kilometer of Tañon Strait waters.

“The issue here is not money, but truth, justice and accountability and the appropriate and just demand for just compensation. The P 20-billion fund will serve as seed fund for all rehabilitation efforts, including the economic and production needs of affected fisherfolk and coastal people,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

Pamalakaya proposed a cooperation body in the form of Task Force Tañon Strait Rehabilitation to manage and implement the rehabilitation works. The group aside from fisherfolk organizations, non-government organizations and representatives of affected coastal municipalities in Cebu and Negros Occidental, church, academic and environmental advocates should also be included in the independent task force.

Meanwhile, Pamana-Sugbo, the provincial chapter of Pamalakaya in Cebu revealed that United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right food is looking into the impact of offshore mining in Tañon Strait to the coastal people and fishing communities covered by the previous oil hunt in Central Visayas.

Pamana-Sugbo chair Victor Lapaz said UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food Mr. Olivier de Schutter acknowledged the receipt of several information on the oil and gas exploration project in Tañon Strait, a protected seascape separating the island provinces of Cebu and Bohol, and expressed his interest to know more about the situation, including the increasing presence of government troops and the actions taken by the Supreme Court on the cases filed by the affected fishermen.

In his two-page email addressed to Mr. Vince Cinches, executive director of Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center (FIDEC), a support non-government organization (NGO) working with Pamalakaya and the affected communities due to offshore mining in Tañon Strait and other parts of Central Visayas, de Schutter said after examination of the initial report of Pamalakaya and FIDEC, he wants to know more about the Philippine army getting involved in stopping the demonstrations against the offshore mining.

“Some reports mentioned that the army has been deployed in some areas to prevent local leaders from disturbing ongoing exploratory operations. Could you please give us more details on this situation?” the UN special rapporteur on the right to food asked.

“Has the army intervened in some demonstrations and then left, or is the army permanently deployed to prevent access by fishermen? Can you provide details of a few instances where this happened, including the names localities, dates etc?” de Schutter added.

According to Lapaz , the UN Special Rapporteur on the right food also want to know the Supreme Court action on the cases filed by his group, Pamalakaya, FIDEC, the affected communities and environmentalist groups against the offshore mining in Tañon Strait conducted by Japan Petroleum Exploration Ltd. (Japex) since 2005.

“The UN special rapporteur on the right to food is interested on how the high tribunal acted on several petitions filed by affected communities and their supporters before the Supreme Court. It seems the UN engagement will depend on the high court will take this issue. If the court decides in favor of the national government and Japex, then that will be time the UN will intervene because the legal remedy at the domestic arena is already exhausted,” Lapaz added.

Pamalakaya said the next offshore mining battle will be in Cebu-Bohol Strait, where the Australian firm NorAsia is expected to start its oil and gas exploration in August this year. The group had already written Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to persuade the’ offshore mining company—NorAsia Energy Limited to back off from oil and gas exploration deal with the Philippine government in the Cebu-Bohol Strait.

Pamalakaya said it will ask de Schutter to also investigate the offshore exploration and mining of NorAsia on the 445,000 hectares of marine waters over a 7-year period based on the agreement signed by NorAsia and its Filipino partner-the TransAsia Oil and Energy Development Corporation. The agreement was sanctioned by the Department of Energy.

In 2007, NorAsia acquired 146 square kilometers of 3D seismic data over two prospects in Service Contract 51. It said Area 8 of Service Contract 69 offers significant follow-up potential in additional structures if initial drilling in Service Contract 512 is successful.

NorAsia said Service Contract 69 has approximately 3,000 kilometers of existing 2D seismic and an active petroleum system as shown by the abundant onshore oil seeps and seismic-supported direct hydrocarbon indicators in the area.#

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