Tag Archives: Manila Bay

Supreme Court told: Go easy on Manila Bay clean up

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Portnip Pakangcharap and Bb. Joyce Cabral

MANILA, Philippines- Slow down please.
THE left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday said Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona and 14 other justices should go easy in pushing its decision on Manila Bay clean up following reports that government agencies and local government units which have clinched deals with private investors are using the decision on Manila Bay rehabilitation to remove fisherfolk and urban poor have them replaced with projects financed by private interests.

Pamalakaya vice chairperson for Luzon Salvador France issued the statement hours after chief Justice Corona and 3 other SC justices joined the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in inspecting the cleanup of Manila Bay this morning.

Joining SC chief justice Corona in the inspection were SC associate justices Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo and Jose Perez with DENR Secretary Ramon Paje. They boarded on PCG Vessel BRP EDSA II that passed through the Pasig River and the Manila Bay area and off Navotas City and SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

“We strongly urge Chief Justice Corona and 4 other SC justices to exercise extreme prudence in enforcing their decision on Manila Bay rehabilitation. People and groups with vested interests to private Manila Bay are taking advantage and are using this landmark ruling to effectively eject the fishing people and urban poor folks opposed to Palace’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) escapades in Manila Bay and adjacent rivers, tributaries including Laguna Lake,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

“The SC decision putting weight on the demolition of fishing communities and urban poor structures along Manila Bay and its interlocking tributaries that would include the whole of Pasig River and Laguna Lake is not only unfair but also revolting. It is a grand massacre of social justice and people’s rights,” France added.

Voting 11-4, the high tribunal two weeks ago instructed the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) until Dec. 31, 2015 to remove illegal structures along river banks and waterways connected to the bay.

“On or before June 30, 2011, the MMDA shall submit its plan for the removal of said informal settlers and the demolition of the aforesaid houses, structures, constructions and encroachments, as well as the completion dates for said activities, which shall be fully implemented not later than December 31, 2015,” the SC said.

The decision also gave the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and local governments in Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan provinces until Dec. 31, 2012 to demolish illegal settlements near river banks.

In its en banc resolution issued last Feb. 15, the SC noted that while some parties may view its orders as an encroachment on the powers of the executive branch, its Dec. 18, 2008 ruling “is but an integral part of the adjudicative function of the Court.”

But Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap dismissed the decision of the high tribunal as “injustice to the highest order”.

“The Supreme Court notion of environmental protection and rehabilitation is too narrow yet socially costly to the people and it puts the people of Manila Bay and Laguna Lake under heavy attack and endless dispossession of livelihood and extreme denial of housing rights. The 11 justices who voted on the decision forgot there are more than more than five million people, mainly fisherfolk and jobless and economic starving folks residing along Manila Bay and Laguna Lake communities. The decision is an across-the-Manila Bay and across-the-Laguna Lake tragedy,” said Hicap.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., the high court said “it is clear that the final judgment includes not only what appears upon its face to have been so adjudged but also those matters ‘actually and necessarily included therein or necessary thereto.’ Certainly, any activity that is needed to fully implement a final judgment is necessarily encompassed by said judgment.”

In December 2008, the SC dismissed the petitions filed by several government agencies asking the court to overturn the Court of Appeals September 2005 ruling upholding a Cavite trial court’s ruling. In that ruling, the Cavite court ordered the government agencies to clean-up Manila Bay and make it suitable for public bathing and swimming, and for catching milkfish and other similar fish species.

The Manila Bay Advisory Committee (MBAC) has recently reported to the SC that there were several setbacks in monitoring the implementation of its December 2008 decision. These include the lack of government agencies’ uniform manner of reporting their cleanup, rehabilitation, and preservation activities. Because of such problems the SC ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to submit until June 30, 2011 its updated operation plan for the Manila Bay cleanup.

The high court also gave the DENR until Sept. 30, 2011 to submit the names and addresses of persons and companies in Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, and Bataan that generate toxic and hazardous waste.

The Manila Bay clean up decision has put to task the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to order all local government heads in Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan and Bataan to inspect all factories, commercial establishments and residences along the banks of the Pasig-Marikina-San Juan rivers, the Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tenejeros rivers, the Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando (Bulacan) rivers, the Talisay (Bataan) River, the Imus (Cavite) River, and the Laguna de Bay, and other minor rivers and waterways that eventually discharge water into the Manila Bay.

The heads of the concerned local government units were given until the end of September this year to complete their respective inspections.

But Pamalakaya’s Hicap said the SC decision will be used by the government and their partners in crime in the private sector to effectively full-blast commercialization of Manila Bay and Laguna Lake under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) republic of the Aquino administration, which started during the time of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos up to the present administration of President Arroyo is the main reason the 190-kilometer bay is on the brink of general collapse.

“Please allow us to state the real score on Manila Bay. Eighty percent of the untreated water wastes that are thrown or dumped into the bay come from industries and commercial establishments situated along the bay. The reclamation activities of the government that began during the Marcos era up and which continue at present are also destroying Manila Bay and have prevented the ecosystem and marine life from regenerating,” Pamalakaya stated.

“We are not happy with the way the national government is treating Manila Bay. We are being blamed for its deterioration. Why us? We are not destroyers of natural resources and marine environment. We cannot destroy our main source of livelihood. It is impossible for us to do that, because destroying Manila Bay is like destroying our basis for existence. In fact, the fisherfolk are long running victims here of corporate exploitation and capital accumulation,” the group said.

The militant group said about 20,000 hectares of Manila Bay waters have been subjected to reclamation to pave way for the construction of special economic zones in Bataan and Cavite, the commercial spaces presently occupied by Manila Film Center, the GSIS (Government Service Insurance System) Building in Pasay City, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and Folk Arts Theater in Manila, and the SM Mall of Asia and other commercial companies in Pasay City.

Pamalakaya complained that while the government and the Supreme Court are blaming the fisherfolk and the urban poor over the deterioration of Manila Bay, the Philippine government and the DENR had upheld proposals of the state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) to develop the 90-hectare reclaimed casino and resort complex in Manila Bay.

On top of the $-15 billion casino project to be constructed along Manila Bay, Pamalakaya said the DENR had granted ECC to the ambitious Cavite Coastal Road Project II that would involve reclamation of more than 8,000 hectares of coastal waters along Manila Bay from Bacoor to Cavite City.

Pamalakaya said close to 3 million coastal people in Metro Manila and Cavite are still dependent on fishing as a principal source of livelihood, and any move to transform or convert Manila Bay for other purposes like the $15-billion casino project and the Cavite Phase II Coastal Road project will have a killing impact on the livelihood of small fishermen, aside from the fact that they would be demolished from their communities, once construction of support structures and establishments begins.

“From 1992 to 1995, the demolitions of coastal shanties became an everyday ordeal in Pasay Reclamation area. Houses were uprooted almost daily. Small and big time bribery to divide the communities were conducted to facilitate the demolition of coastal communities,” the group said.

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

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

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Manila anti-casino group sought divine intervention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Bb. Joyce Cabral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Only 3 presidential bets take up fishers’ issues—says group

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Bb. Joyce Cabral

Manila, Philippines-

A boy presented a relief stub during Pamalakaya and Anakpawis' relief operations in Talim Island, Rizal

Leftwing activists belonging to the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday said of the 9 presidential candidates, only three—Nacionalista Party (NP) standard bearer Sen. Manny Villar, independent candidate Sen. Jamby Madrigal and Lakas-Kampi merger party bet Gilberto Teodoro have taken up the issues raised by small fisherfolk.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said Villar was more interested in providing production subsidies and relief to small fisherfolk hit by rising prices of petroleum products and seasonal disaster, Madrigal focused on the particular fight against the privatization and conversion of Manila Bay and offshore mining in the high seas, while Teodoro offered his help to fast track the cleanup of Manila Bay in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling and the pursuance of Philippine claim to the controversial Spratly Island.

“The rest of presidential wannabes have yet to issue any official policy statement how they would solve the multifaceted problems in Philippine fisheries, while the 3 presidential candidates need to concretize and be more comprehensive in addressing the sorry state of Filipino fisherfolk and the fisheries environment,” the Pamalakaya leader noted.

Hicap said his group wants to hear from Villar, Madrigal and Teodoro, while at the same time strongly encourages the rest of the presidential candidates—Liberal Party presidential bet Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, Partido ng Masang Pilipino standard bearer former President Joseph Estrada, independent bets Richard Gordon, Nicanor Perlas, Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas Movement and JC de los Reyes of the Kapatiran party.

Salvador France, Pamalakaya national vice-chair for his part, his group will stage the 2nd staging of Pamalakaya Fisherfolk Academy (PFA) next month, a presidential forum which aims to gather all presidential and vice presidential candidates in the May 2010 polls.

The forum which was first organized in the May 2007 elections for senatorial candidates, will ask all presidential candidates their respective stand and views on the fisherfolk electoral agenda which will be presented in the half-day forum.

The Pamalakaya official said among the doable demands their group will present to presidential candidates is the immediate and unconditional halt on all reclamation and conversion projects in Laguna Lake and Manila Bay, an indefinite freeze to demolition plans of fishing and urban poor communities along Manila Bay, Laguna Lake and other foreshore land areas across-the-country, the immediate recall of all offshore mining projects in Central and Western Visayas, Mindanao and Palawan seas, Northern Luzon and Bicol regions.

France said, Pamalakaya will also ask the presidential and vice-presidential candidates their position on proposals to abrogate the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) and the repeal of the Fisheries Code of 1998 and the approval of production subsidy law for fisheries that provide financial and material support to small fisherfolk to improve production and their standard of living.

Pamalakaya will also ask the commitment of presidential and vice presidential candidates that if they win, they will investigate highly questionable contracts and projects implemented by the Department of Agriculture (DA) including but not limited to the overpriced P 455 million ice making machine and the
P 7.14 billion agriculture funds which were missing according to the findings of the Commission on Audit dated December 2008.

Quoting the COA 2008 report, the Pamalakaya leader said a total of P 5.19 billion intended for farm-to-market road project were either missing or incomplete. France said the DA only spent P 1.3 billion or 38.99 percent of the total project allotment for 2008. Another big item, the P 1.3 billion fertilizer fund project under the GMA Rice Program was also bungled because local government units refused to participate in the implementation.

“The projects were reportedly incomplete. So the next question is where are the unspent funds? Are they really missing? Were they diverted or juggled to other highly questionable projects? What happen to the farm-to-market road project? Did it become farm to pocket (of GMA allies) road project?” asked
France.

Pamalakaya also took note COA’s other findings like printing of P 2.2 million fertilizer discount coupons which were rendered useless, the construction of mini-dams in Regions VIII, IX and XI built at a cost of
P 7.35 million but were rendered useless due to inferior construction, the construction of 11 Barangay Food Terminals worth P 1.55 million but only one was functional, and the remaining 10 were condemned due to operational deficiencies.

The same COA report described DA as notorious in purchasing equipment which are overpriced, not really needed or cannot be utilized or run by intended beneficiaries, adding that many of the equipment bought are unutilized, undelivered and now rusting in storage.

Pamalakaya said the earth shaking COA report should stop the national government and the agriculture department from buying 300 new ice-making machines to the amount of P 1.5 billion on top of the 98 ice-making machines which DA purchased in 2009 at an overpriced rate of P 4.6 million, 100 percent more of the prevailing industry price. #

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Sea of garbage failed to stop fishers from endorsing favored bets in Manila Bay

By Lollipop delos Reyes and Sugar Hicap

Manila, Philippines- Figuratively and literally speaking, this group of militant fishermen can proudly say “ nakaligo na sila sa dagat ng basura.”

Leaders of the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Valentines Day braved the murky and garbage filled waters of Manila Bay along Baywalk area in Roxas Boulevard in Manila to endorse the party list bid of Anakpawis and the senatorial outing of Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and Gabriela Party list Rep. Liza Maza.

“This symbolizes our full blast determination to have the real representatives of the people elected in the Senate and the House of Representatives. It is a paramount electoral concern and political duty of every Filipino voter to ensure the victory of progressive party lists like Anakpawis and patriotic lawmakers like Ocampo and Maza so the people will have a fighting chance inside the elite dominated Congress,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Hicap added: “The undisputed and long running track record of Anakpawis and the two militant congressmen side by side with current situation merit their victory in the May 2010 elections.”

Hicap was joined by Pamalakaya vice-chairperson Salvador France and another staff in goading a balsa (bamboo raft) in Manila Bay filled with tarpaulins of Anakpawis, Ocampo and Maza calling the Filipino voters to elect them in the May 2010 polls.

“Today is Valentines Day. And this water based action is one way of showing our class love for Anakpawis and for the working class and hardworking folks like Satur and Liza. Our senatorial candidates are two of the most respected and well-loved people in the politics of change and meaningful reforms,” the Pamalakaya official added.

Earlier, some 5,000 victims of typhoon Ondoy in Laguna Lake and now organized under Pamalakaya, Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) and Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) proclaimed the senatorial bids of Ocampo and Maza.

Pamalakaya said victims of “state-sponsored disaster” in Lupang Arenda in Taytay, Rizal and in the 90,000 hectare stretched Laguna Lake are 100 percent voting for progressive party lists, Ocampo and Maza.

The militant group said typhoon victims and fishing villagers in Laguna Lake have recognized efforts of progressive party lists like Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela in opposing the planned demolition of communities in Lupang Arenda and other fishing and urban poor villages surrounding Laguna Lake.

Pamalakaya noted that Anakpawis and Makabayan senatorial candidates’ Ocampo and Maza had filed several resolutions against the proliferation of fish pens, the across-the-lake reclamation and road dike projects and the sell-out of lake resources to powerful business groups and private firms who want to convert the lake into an industrial and commercial hub at the expense of the lake fishers and the environment.

Pamalakaya said the relief efforts of progressive party lists which addressed the immediate needs of typhoon victims last year were also recognized by Laguna lake folks. According to Pamalakaya’s estimate, progressive party lists and the offices of Ocampo and Maza in the House of Representatives have delivered not less than 10,000 sacks of rice and other relief goods for same number of families in Laguna Lake last year.

This year, some 6,000 packs of relief goods were distributed in Lupang Arenda, while around 500 sacks of rice and relief items were handed to over 1,000 fishing families in Binangonan and Talim Island, both in Rizal late last month. #

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Militant group to avail CJ Puno’s “writ of nature”

By Kaka Esteban and Mama Mila Liguasan

Manila, Philippines-The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday said it will avail the writ of “kalikasan” (nature) which will be promulgated by the Supreme Court before Chief Justice Reynato Puno retires on May 17.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the writ of kalikasan which is authored by the Chief Justice will be tested on various environmental cases which his group will file against the Macapagal-Arroyo government and its private clients pertaining to anti-people and anti-environment development projects in Manila Bay, Laguna Lake, offshore mining projects in Palawan, Cebu-Bohol Strait and Lingayen Gulf and offshore reclamation in Panglao, island province of Bohol.

Pamalakaya is confronting the issue of anti-fisherfolk and anti-environment state projects in Manila Bay particularly the reclamation of not less than 12,000 hectares of coastal areas along Bacoor Bay, which the government intends to develop as R-1 Expressway Extension Project and the rehabilitation and expansion of Sangley Point as an international shipping port in Southern Tagalog region.

The militant group is also opposed to various eco-tourism projects in Laguna Lake, including the grand plan of Manila Water and Maynilad to source potable water from the 90,000 hectare lake. Pamalakaya is also against the reclamation of not less than 10,000 hectares of lake shores in Laguna Lake.

Pamalakaya will also bring to court the controversial 465 hectare offshore reclamation in Panglao island in Bohol, and the oil and gas explorations in Palawan, Cebu, Bohol and Lingayen Gulf provinces– Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte.

“We will explore this writ of nature to defend our rights to livelihood and sound environment. But the main fight for social justice will be decided in the battlefield as provided by the parliament of the street and the court of public opinion,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Hicap appealed to Puno to rush the finalization of the writ of nature, saying fishers group like Pamalakaya and other environmental advocacy groups have been waiting for said writ since 2008, when the idea was first brought during the high tribunal’s consultations with grassroots organizations and advocacy groups.

“However, we welcome this development. We hope the writ of nature will not become a toothless tiger and will be of big use to people defending their livelihood and rights to healthy ecology,” added Pamalakaya.

Puno announced on Saturday that he wants the high court to finalize rules that will institute the writ of ‘kalikasan’ (nature) before he retires in May, saying that this new legal remedy would lead to a better implementation of the country’s environmental laws.

The Chief Justice announced the SC committee on the revision of the Rules of Court, which he chairs, is set to promulgate the rule governing the issuance of the writ of ‘kalikasan’—an order that a court can issue to protect a person’s right to a healthy environment—in one or two months.

Puno described the writ of ‘kalikasan’ as a “most effective” means to ensure that the Filipinos’ constitutional right to “balance and healthful ecology” is realized.

The soon to retire Chief Justice said the new writ aims to encourage more citizens to file suits involving violations of the country’s environmental laws, and to solve the problem of delays on the disposition of pending environmental cases, which have now reached 3,000.

In January 2008, the high tribunal approved the creation of 117 environmental courts—also called the “green courts” to expedite the resolution of all pending environmental cases. The writ of ‘kalikasan’ can solve the overclogging of these courts.

Police conducting checkpoints in broad daylight as encountered by the recent Lakbayan

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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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