Tag Archives: climate change

Mar Roxas a major disappointment, says climate change group

By Cherry de Belen and Bb. Joyce Cabral

MANILA, Philippines-The left-wing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya)on Tuesday said they were shocked and disappointed with Liberal Party (LP) vice presidential candidate Sen. Mar Roxas for questioning his closest rival- Nacionalista Party (NP) Vice presidential candidate Sen. Loren Legarda for prioritizing environmental issues such as climate change and El Nino as election campaign.

“Senator Mar Roxas is a major disappointment. He failed millions of farmers and fisherfolk with his avant-garde display of mediocrity, wholesale ignorance and political arrogance on environmental issues like El Nino and climate change,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

“For the information of Senator Roxas, climate change , El Nino and the scores of environmental issues besetting the country today are issues that are matters of life and death to millions of food producing people across-the-archipelago. Why is he is taking for granted issues pertaining to climate change, El Nino and the environment? This is mind-boggling and totally outrageous,” he added.

Yesterday, Sen. Legarda told reporters that she is willing to educate Sen. Roxas on climate change, after the LP vice-presidential bet apparently belittled her environmental advocacy during the ABS-CBN “Harapan” vice presidential debate.

At last Sunday’s debate held at La Consolacion College in Manila, the LP vice-presidential candidate questioned Legarda’s priorities in making the environment her campaign advocacy, noting that the Philippines accounted for less than 1 percent of the Carbon dioxide (CO2) emission that is chiefly blamed for global warming.

But Legarda argued that climate change was a gut issue, as the Philippines was one of 10 countries considered most vulnerable to disasters related to climate change.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap said Roxas’ “earth shaking statement” dismissing the people’s issues and advocacy on climate change and El Nino will mean voluminous reduction of electoral support for the LP Vice-Presidential candidate.

“Sen.Roxas has wittingly or unwittingly attacked environmental and climate change advocacy in this country and this would compel the green advocates and the grassroots voters to think over a thousand times to think if he deserves their votes come May 10, 2010 elections. On the part of the 100,000 strong Pamalakaya, he is no longer in contention in the VP race courtesy of his blasphemous anti-environment and anti-fisherfolk view. Rejection becomes Mr Roxas,” Hicap said.

Pamalakaya expressed doubt Sen. Roxas will accept the offer of Sen.Legarda to get a crash course on climate change and El Nino.

“Mr. Palengke’s humble crusade and humility are only good for election ad and for image building. The LP vice-presidential wannabe is the candidate of big business groups and Roxas’ business clients hate genuine advocacy against climate change, global warming, environmental disaster and El Nino,” the group said. #

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Critics pressed Arroyo to junk allies bid granting her emergency powers

By Sarsi Pimentel and Billy Javier Reyes

Manila, Philippines- Rabid critics of Malacanang on Saturday pressed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to junk the proposal of her allies in the House of Representatives to give her emergency powers to resolve the worsening power situation in Mindanao.

In a press statement, the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) believed the idea of granting the Chief Executive emergency powers to address the looming power crisis did not come from her allies but from Arroyo herself, and if she’s unchecked, Arroyo might use these powers to convince the Filipino public to postpone the May 2010 elections.

“The power crisis is being hyped to justify the cruel intentions of Malacanang and it is now part of Palace’s scenario building to justify the declaration of failure of elections in 2010. That is the clear and present danger of extending emergency powers to President Arroyo. A lame duck and an outgoing President with interest to perpetuate herself to power might exploit this congressional action for her own political interest. Ladies and gentlemen, remember we are talking here of Mrs. Arroyo and we are not dealing with a patriotic leader and decent statesman,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said Arroyo allies headed by Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Simeon Datumanong, Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Antonio Cerilles. Cebu City Rep. Antonio Cuenco and Bulacan Rep. Reylina Nicolas were courting an extreme political danger in pressing emergency powers for the President.

“The best way to resolve the power crisis is stop the privatization of the power sector, repeal Electric Power Industry Reform Act and disempower the Arroyo presidency,” added Hicap.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya scored Palace Deputy spokesperson Charito Planas for trivializing the problem of water shortage in the country courtesy of El Nino phenomenon.

“Please allow us to remind Madam Charito Planas that this world and the problem we face is for real. We totally dislike this trivial approach to a serious issue that needs comprehensive planning and strong political will. We cannot subscribe to this product like endorsement approach to a major problem that needs major solutions beyond trivia and cheap tricks,” the group added.

Planas on Friday brought out a pail and a basin during a televised briefing and gave simple conservation tips to address the looming water crisis.

With her household props, the Palace spokesperson demonstrated how the water one uses for washing hands, brushing teeth or bathing could be recycled to flush the toilet.

Planas said in her home, she use eight pails and basins to recycle water and had started such practice a year ago. “I use a tabo (dipper) when I bathe. That’s probably one of the reasons why I’ve lost weight—from using a dipper. After shampooing, I rinse my hair directly into the pail. We can do this, and should do this,” she added. #

Pamalakaya wonder dog Barrack OCigeNga barks whenever he sees President Arroyo on TV

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Fishers group warns environmental catastrophe on UK oil and gas hunt near Spratly islands

By Ridley McHammer in London, United Kingdom and Gerry Albert Corpuz and Queen Shawn Dok in Manila

Fisherfolk activists belonging to the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday warned the Department of Energy (DoE) of a major environmental catastrophe in Palawan and neighbor Spratly islands once it allows the United Kingdom oil and gas exploration group to proceed off the waters of Palawan province near the disputed Kalayaan group of islands.

In a press statement Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap urged energy secretary Angelo Reyes to immediately cancel Geophysical Survey and Exploration Contract (GSEC) No.101 also known as Sercice Contract no.72 (SC72) was awarded to UK firm Forum Energy Plc. The exploration contract grants the London-based oil and gas company the right to conduct offshore mining that covers 880,000 hectares of marine waters located in the Red Bank basin in Palawan or 150 kilometers east of Spratlys group of islands.

“The project is heading us to a major environmental catastrophe in the making. Imagine 880,000 hectares of marine waters will be sacrificed anew for this extreme greed of powerful corporations for super profits at the expense of national patrimony, people’s rights to livelihood, and sound and sustainable environment,” Hicap lamented.

The Pamalakaya leader said the offshore mining activity might result to huge decline in the production of fishes and other marine products in the country. Hicap said offshore mining in the Visayan Sea and Palawan alone could lead to decline of year fish production by 600,000 metric tons or 20 percent decline annually, and it would affect the livelihood of not less than 100,000 fisherfolk and the 500,000 people largely dependent on fishing as means of livelihood.

Forum Energy said the service contract they obtained from DoE is within 200 nautical miles of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) based on Republic Act 9522, or the Philippine Archipelagic Baseline Law passed by Congress last year.

Citing the impacts of oil and gas exploration of Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd. (Japex) in Tanon Strait, a protected seascape separating the island provinces of Cebu and Negros, Pamalakaya said fish catch was drastically reduced by 67 to 75 percent from a high of 15-20 kilos average catch per day to 3-5 kilos of fish per day due to offshore mining.

In a fact finding mission conducted two years ago, Pamalakaya said fish skills occurred in several barangays in Cebu and Negros during and after the seismic surveys. The militant group also cited previous studies on the effect of offshore mining which said that an oil exploration activity generates 214,000 pounds of air pollution every year, 50 tons of nitrogen oxides, 13 tons of carbon monoxide and 6 tons of sulfur dioxide and 5 tons of volatile organic hydrocarbons.

Pamalakaya said drilling operations could produce 1,500 metric tons to 2,000 metric tons of highly toxic water waste materials per drilling. The group said other toxic materials which oil and gas exploration could produce include cadmium which causes lung cancer, lead which causes gastrointestinal diseases, blood and kidney disorders, mental retardation and affects the nervous system, chromium which causes lung and liver cancers, kidney and other respiratory illnesses, and arsenic which causes lung, liver and skin cancers.

This is not the first time oil and gas exploration activity will be conducted in Reed Bank. The bank has been subject of numerous exploration hunts in the past under the Philippine contractual regime and Presidential Decree 87. The first petroleum contract in the area was awarded by the then Ministry of Energy in 1975.

Forum Energy holds a 70-percent stake in GSEC 101, which is the company’s principal asset, while Monte Oro Resources & Energy Inc. owns the rest. The government initially awarded GSEC 101 to Sterling Energy Plc in June 2002. Sterling drilled four wells at the southwest end of the structure. Two of the wells tested gas at rates of 3.6 million cubic feet and 3.2 million cubic feet per day, respectively. With reports from Akihira Tatchu

Anakpawis Rep. Joel Maglunsod had authored a resolution seeking an investigation on impacts of offshore mining in Visayan Sea


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Pinoy activists outraged at outcome of Copenhagen climate talks

By the Center for Environmental Concerns, contributor, in Copenhagen, Denmark and Gerry Albert Corpuz, senior reporter, The Pamalakaya Times, in Manila

Copenhagen, Denmark- Climate activists from the Philippines expressed outraged at the Copenhagen Accord signed by 26 heads of states at the summit of the United Nations Conference of Parties 15 (COP15). The group was even more disappointed at the Philippine delegation, headed by President Gloria Arroyo, for being one of the first to sign the undemocratic document and once again selling out the interests and welfare of the Filipino people.

“The Copenhagen Accord, which does not commit the developed countries and biggest polluters to specific emission cuts targes at a specific deadline puts humanity nearer to the brink of world catastrophy. How the accord came to be is a case in point of how rich countries like the US preserve its interests at the expense of the welfare of the world’s population by imposing its power to prevent the creation of a fair, effective and legally binding deal,” said Clemente Bautista of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

KALIKASAN-PNE was among the hundreds of civil society organizations that flew to Copenhagen to participate in the talks by forwarding the positions and calls of the country’s most vulnerable and marginalized sectors. While the group did not have high expectations that a binding and substantial agreement will be signed at the UN summit, they were revolted how the talks turned out.

The Copenhagen Accord was brokered by the United States during a closed door meeting last Friday night with the BASIC countries: Brazil, South Africa, India and China, which the other countries left out of the meetings. The process was undemocratic, secretive and in gross violation of the UN charter and the rights of other nations to take part in an agreement where the fate of the world depends on.

The Accord also set the to limit the increase in global temperature to 2°C instead of the 1.5°C needed by countries such as Bangladesh and Tuvalu to stay above sea level. To achieve that, the accord aims to cut global carbon emission by only 50% of 1990 levels by 2050, with no specific target and legally binding commitment from rich countries to reduce their emission.

Aside from the emissions cuts, the accord supposedly commits the developed countries to raise climate funds for vulnerable nations.

Unfair accord

“While we have observed in the past 2 weeks that the climate talks is not a negotiation between equal parties, we have also observed how the Philippine delegation expressed enthusiasm for the unfair accord and contented itself with a few billion pesos of climate aid, ” said Marjorie Pamintuan of Agham Youth.

Ms. Pamintuan also participated in the COP15 with 350.org, an international movement campaigning for the lowering the carbon in the atmosphere to 350ppm.

Referring to an interview of expert negotiator Ms. Bernarditas Castro-Muller, Ms. Pamintuan explained that, “The $30 billion that is to be provided by rich countries for vulnerable nations between 2010 and 2012, and the $100 billion dollars ‘from a wide variety of sources’ to be available after 2020 could hardly be considered any help at all since ‘these will be in the form of loans’ which will bury the Filipinos into much deeper national debt.”

Ms. Pamintuan further pointed out that, “additional national debts means larger budget cuts for services like education and health since a large portion of the national budget is appropriated for debt servicing. With a destroyed environment, unhealthy bodies and without education, what kind of future does the Filipino youth have?”

“Instead of being used to increase the resiliency and adaptive of the country, the $380 million pledge of clean technology and forestry investment funds from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank that Mrs. Arroyo is so proud of will be allocated to hoax technological solutions like clean coal, market based mechanisms and will also facilitate the exploit of our energy and forest resources by foreign corporations,” explained Ms. Meggie Nolasco of Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA).

According to the PCWA statement , “If the government is indeed serious in addressing climate, instead of promoting technological fixes and false climate solutions it should prioritize people’s needs by immediately scrapping destructive environmental policies like the Mining Act of 1995 and stopping the building of new coal-fired power plants and coal mining projects.”

“While there is already a global consensus that any further delays in coming up with effective solutions will jeopardize the whole planet especially vulnerable nations such as the Philippines, Mrs. Arroyo and her delegation even commended the unfair and unsubstantial deal,” said Ms. Nolasco.

Ms Nolasco added that, “What Mrs. Arroyo and her delegation should have done was act in the interest of the Filipino people by standing firmly with the other nations in demanding that developed countries, especially the US, to commit to an effective, fair and legally binding climate deal.”

“However, we must not be disheartened in our struggle. We must sustain our collective actions even as we go back to our countries and press for true climate change solutions and lasting social justice,” ended Ms. Nolasco.

Not all about aid

In Manila, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday chided President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for praising her efforts to secure $ 380-million in financial aid to help the Philippines cope with the impact of climate change.

“Is that how President Arroyo measure the meaning of success? Where is climate justice in the $ 380-million pledges to fight global warming? We don’t call it aid, we call it bribery from top global polluters and environmental destroyers,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

Hicap said his group was dismayed on President Arroyo over her silence and non-committal and no-combative stance on the collective position of the G-77 for the United States and other major economies of the world to drastically cut their carbon emissions to cushion if not eliminate the phenomenon of global warming across-the-world.

“President Arroyo attended the Copenhagen summit on climate change not to attack the global warmers and present the global people’s agenda for climate justice, but to perform her duty as an apologist for the US and other rich nations,” the Pamalakaya official said.

In her arrival statement, President Arroyo described the Philippines’ efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change as a “life and death’ issue. She said her government is at the frontline of the changing global climate, as she mentioned the past storms that had ravaged the country, the Filipino people and their way of life.

The President said the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank committed up to $ 250 million from their clean technology fund in recognition of the Philippines leadership role in tackling climate changes in Asia. Mrs. Arroyo also took home $ 70 million for forestry investment fund and another 50 million US dollars from the global environmental fund. The Danish government promised another 10 million US dollars in support to the Philippines local water utilities.

Money, money,money

“Mrs. Arroyo works hard for the money for herself and not for climate justice and not for the people affected by US-led inflicted climate change. That’s the President’s vision in life—money, money, enough money for her eternal greed, nothing more, nothing less,” said Hicap.
While President Arroyo was rebuked by Pamalakaya, the militant group commended a group of Filipino activists who made their presence felt during the Conference of Parties (COP) in Copenhagen.

The group praised Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the environmental group Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment and the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS), Ms Tess Vistro of Amihan peasant women federation, Paul Quintos of Ibon Foundation and Ces Quimpo of Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC) for bringing the Filipino people’s collective position on climate justice and the need to punish top global polluters like the United States and its transnational corporations for bringing global environmental disasters to 77 most poorest countries in the world.

“The Filipino people were not in default in the Copenhagen battle. Their voice was added to the worldwide demands for rich nations to stop exploiting and destroying the people and the resources and to ensure global climate justice against the super profiteering activities of US and other capitalist exploiting nations across America, Europe and Asia and the Pacific,” said Pamalakaya.

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Protesters rally at the US embassy to demand for accountability and real climate solutions on first day of climate talks

contributed to The Pamalakaya Times

Manila, Philippines-On the first day of the international climate talks, militant and environmental groups marched towards the US embassy to hold accountable the world’s biggest polluters, headed by the United States and demand adequate financial and appropriate technological adaptation support for climate change vulnerable countries and communities.

From December 7-18, high level officials and representatives from all over the world will gather in Copenhagen, Denmark for the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) where a binding climate deal should be sealed. However the leaders of developed countries headed by US President Obama have announced that it is unrealistic to expect a climate deal in Copenhagen given the short amount of time.

“This foot dragging and sabotage by the US and other responsible countries should be condemned. Such inaction and the false solutions they continue to peddle equates to greater devastation and suffering from the effects of climate change by peasants, workers, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, women, children, urban poor, and other vulnerable and marginalized sectors ,” said Giovanni Tapang, chairperson of the Advocates for Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM).

According to Frances Quimpo, coordinator of the international climate formation, People’s Action on Climate Change (PACC), “it is a great injustice that it is the poor who are suffering the most while it is the industrialized countries that account for 80% of the historical greenhouse gases emission with US primarily responsible for 30% of the global carbon emissions.”

“This inequality has long been recognized by the international community, yet 17 years of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and eight years of the Kyoto Protocol’s existence have failed and done little to abate the steeply-rising global greenhouse gas emissions and ease the lives of the poor, she said. The PACC was the climate group which staged daily mass actions at the Bangkok Climate Talks last October 2009.

“The UN climate negotiations have exposed the callous greed of the industrialized countries and the persistence of corporate and financial enterprise interests that dominate, command and dictate the discussions agenda according to their interests. For one, they are pushing for market-based mechanisms and technological fixes instead of real and structural solutions that strike at the root causes of climate change,” said Dr. Tapang.

Based on the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to enable to avert catastrophic effect of global warming, industrialized countries need to reduce GHG emissions by more than 25-40% based on 1990 level by not later than 2020. The Kyoto Protocol calls for a mere 5% cut in GHG emissions below 1990 level yet the US have not ratified it until now. What President Obama announced is a 17% cut of US greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2020, about 3 percent below the 1990 and far below the cut outlined by the UN climate panel.

According to the statement of Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA), while it is the industrialized countries that are primarily responsible for the rapid destruction of environment and the accelerated GHG emissions, the governments of developing countries who impede the genuine development of the world’s poor and marginalized communities and sectors by facilitating the plunder of the countries’ resources must also be held responsible.

“The Arroyo administration keeps on promoting and pursuing neo-liberal policies in strategic sectors, such as energy, mining, forestry, agriculture, and trade, which favors and benefits the foreign corperations but worsens the vulnerability of local communities. In addition, the Philippine government lacks genuine policies and programs to mitigate climate change and help communities adapt to its impacts,” said Meggie Nolasco, spokesperson of PCWA.

“To top it all, the Arroyo government is sending off a team of government junketeers whose purpose is to beg for crumbs from Annex 1 government in exchange for a weakened position in the climate negotiations,” said Nolasco. The Philippine president on the eve of Hillary Clinton’s visit, released a statement that it is not insisting on deep and early cuts in the Copenhagen negotiations, when the Philippines, along with other developing and vulnerable countries have been reeling from climate change impacts due to the havoc wrought by Annex 1 countries.

The protesters headed by PCWA, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, AGHAM and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) with other multi-sectoral organizations are calling on the international community to push for a just and equitable treaty and concrete actions that recognizes that the climate crisis is rooted and is continuously worsened by the unsustainable, wasteful and profit-oriented production of the world’s richest economies.

“We are not optimistic that an international agreement will be arrived at in Copenhagen as long as the powerful nations, big corporation and corrupt government officials, whose sole purpose is to water down or shoot down any important climate measures and continue with business-as-usual practices remain inside the negotiations,” said Meggie Nolasco, spokesperson of Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA).

She further averred, “ Together with marginalized communities and civil society organizations from all over the world, we are taking our postions and demands to the streets in fighting this oppressive system and the false solutions that are perpetruated by the climate offenders. “

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Relief, Relieve, Survive: Fishers, church people launch Operation Temptation Island in Talim Is.

By Billy Javier-Reyes, Rey Manangan and Bb. Joyce Cabral

Cardona, Rizal- The fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), together with church groups affiliated with the protestant National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) kicked off a relief drive in Barangay Ticulio, in Cardona, Rizal, which is part of Talim Island in Laguna Lake.

The relief drive billed as Operation Temptation Island carried the theme “Relief, Relieve, Survive” and was joined by 30 volunteers who led the distribution of relief goods of 500 packs for the same number of fishing families in sitions Cavite, Poblacion, Tondo, Sapang Palay and Masangkay, all in Barangay Ticulio, one of the submerged coastal villages in the island.

Because the barangay remains 9 feet water deep, volunteers traversed makeshift bridges to dispatch the goods to calamity stricken residents.

Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz clarified that Operation Temptation Island is not a remake of a classic campy film in the 80s known as Temptation Island directed by the late director Joey Gosiengfiao for Regal Films which starred Dina Bonnevie and former beauty queens Jennifer Cortez, Azenith Briones and Deborah Sun.

“Operation Temptation Island is a relief op, and not a film remake, nothing more, nothing less,” he said.

“Talim Island is a total paradise because of its natural beauty and nearness to the mainland of Rizal and Laguna provinces. Real estate developers and land speculators are very much eager to grab lands in the island because of tourism potential of the island. In fact, Malacanang has marked Talim Island for flagship eco-tourism projects,” Corpuz explained.

“The objectives of our relief drive are to provide immediate relief to the people of Talim Island, inform island people about the real cause why Talim Island and the entire 90,000 hectare Laguna Lake remain in environmental disarray and what to do to address the current problems posed by the highly critical water level in the lake,” the Pamalakaya information officer added.

Upon reaching the small fish port in Cardona, relief participants from Manila took a 20-minute boat ride on their way to Barangay Ticulio where they were met and assisted by Barangay officials and Pamalakaya-Rizal chairperson—Romy Antazo.

Antazo, a long time fisherfolk leader of Pamalakaya and convener of Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLMM) informed relief operation participants and the 500 relief beneficiaries that the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) was principally liable for the sudden rise in the water of Laguna Lake to critical level.

He said the main cause of the flooding in more than 30 towns in Laguna, Rizal and the National Capital Region is the closure of Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NCHS), which prevented the excess waters of Laguna Lake to pass through Pasig River on its way to Manila Bay.

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 Pamalakaya official in Rizal maintained that the dismantling of NCHS is the immediate solution to permanently assure the disposal of excess waters in Laguna Lake to the Pasig River ,and then to Manila Bay. Antazo said the flooded areas which make inhabitable for 700,000 residents in Laguna province alone can be restored back to its previous state to allow lake inhabitants to resume living along the lake.

The groups said LLDA should stop all its reclamation and road dike projects along the lake because these projects are obstructing the flow of waters in Laguna Lake. The LLDA has been reclaiming thousands of hectares of public lands in Laguna Lake for various flagship projects like the Rizal International Airport and high end condominiums in the lakeshore towns of Taguig, Pateros and Muntinlupa.

They said the forced relocation of 400,000 lakeshore residents is not the solution, and it will only complicate the problem of prevailing social injustice and would violate the economic and housing rights of hundreds of thousands of people along the lake. #

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Militants to Loren: Slowdown on relocation of lakeshore residents

By Rey Manangan, Tootsie Roll Arcadia and Lollipop delos Reyes

Manila, Philippines- 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 Sunday said Senator Loren Legarda should slowdown on her proposal to relocate tens of thousands of fisherfolk and residents of lakeshore towns, including alleged illegal settlers at the mouth of the lake.

Pamalakaya and SLMM added this might be exploited by the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) which had programmed the conversion of the lake for private use and profit-driven activities at the expense of lake people and the environment.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said his group wanted to get in touch with Legarda, who chairs the Senate oversight committee on climate change, after they learned that she already agreed with LLDA General Manager Edgar Manda on the immediate relocation of residents without conducting first a public consultation with the affected people.

“We are aware of the honest and noble purpose of Sen. Legarda, her concern for the people and the environment, but the good senator should first consult the people, learn and understand their collective interest and current sentiment on the proposed relocation before subscribing to the suggestion of Mr. Manda, who is known in the Laguna Lake community as lapdog of big business, a certified puppet of the Office of the President, and a public official with cruel intentions against the people,” the Pamalakaya leader said in a press statement.

Legarda who ran in the 2004 election for vice-president and 2007 in the senatorial election was endorsed and supported by Pamalakaya for her outstanding advocacy on environment, peace talks and her gallant cause against the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

“To set the record straight, we have (been) anticipating the senator’s invitation for us to appear in the hearing of the Senate oversight committee on climate change, but up to now, no invitation was sent to our national office. Perhaps in the next hearing, the good senator will invite us to hear and know the real score coming from the lake folk and not from Mr. Manda alone,” Hicap added.

On Saturday, Sen. Legarda and Manda conducted an ocular inspection of the lake whose water level at the height of tropical storm Ondoy reached 14.5 meters from its normal level of 12.5 meters. She and the LLDA chief reached the poor community after inspecting flooded areas along Pasig River from Guadalupe in Makati City to Pasig.

Legarda said the LLDA had repeatedly warned the Lupang Arenda, a community of shanties built along the banks of the lake in Taytay, Rizal, was permanently at risk of flooding at every abnormal rise of the water level. She said the residents and the government should agree on permanent relocation site.

As many as 100,000 households in Lupang Arenda, Cainta and Pasig have been displaced by the abnormal rise in lake’s water level but Lupang Arenda residents have resisted relocation, telling LLDA that they had been paying fees to the National Housing Authority for a permit to stay in the reclaimed area.

Yesterday, Pamalakaya attended a meeting of calamity victims in Muntinlupa where tens of thousands of lakeshore residents and fishermen are still submerged in deep waters. The consultation among fisherfolk and residents was called by Bayan-NCR and the Muntinlupa chapters of party list groups—Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kabataan Party and Akap-Bata.

During the consultation, Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz explained that the immediate cause of continuous flooding was the permanent closure of Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NCHS), a flood support structure, the prevented excess waters of Laguna Lake to flow into Pasig River on its way to Manila Bay.

“The people there are open for relocation provided that the following requirements will be addressed by the national and local governments—on city relocation that will provide decent mass housing for calamity victims, provisions for comprehensive rehabilitation projects and social services and the immediate yet productive creation of jobs for thousands of displaced residents,” he said.

According to Corpuz, Bayan-NCR and local chapters of progressive party list groups and urban poor organizations today will conduct a fluvial parade in Muntinlupa, that will include distribution of relief goods to several calamity stricken villages and clean up.

“Bayan-NCR and the people in the lakeshore side of Muntinlupa are doing their very best to address the immediate needs and demands under Kilusang Bayanihan movement. Sen. Legarda should involve them in the current hearing of her committee on climate change. They can speak on the matter more than Mr. Manda,” the Pamalakaya information chief added.

Earlier, Pamalakaya and Save Laguna Lake Movement 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.18 or about 22 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 entities waiting for 40-day ritual,” the groups said.

Pamalakaya 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 groups 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 Senators Jamby Madrigal and Legarda 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 Pamalakaya.

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,” Pamalakaya 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.

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 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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