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UPDATE)15,000 Bacoor fishers to march against Cavite road project

Revilla Sr.’s Sangley Point dream blamed for looming demolitions
15,000 Bacoor fishers to march against Cavite road project

Some 10,000 fisherfolk and urban poor residents along the 10 coastal villages of Bacoor town in Cavite staged a “People’s March” on Wednesday against the R-1 Expressway Extension Project of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the UEM-Mara Philippine Corp.

At around 7:30 on Wednesday morning, the protesters from 15 coastal barangays gathered at the Mabolo Freedom Park Later, they marched to the reclamation site, where hundreds of hectares of shallow waters off Bacoor Bay were already reclaimed according to rally organizers.

They were joined by fisherfolk and urban poor from other coastal towns of Cavite-namely Kawit, Binakayan and Noveleta. Organizers said barangay captains and local village officials from 15 barangays in Bacoor also joined the big rally against the CAvite Road project, according to a text message sent by SMBC.
The protest action, the biggest so far against the Cavite road project was organized by the Samahang Magdaragat ng Bacoor, Cavite (SMBC), an affiliate of the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).

SMBC spokesperson Trina Shavez said the R-1 extension project, which will involve the reclamation of 7,500 hectares of coastal waters and mangrove areas will connect the Manila-Cavite Road from Bacoor to Kawit, and it will continue inland up to Noveleta for a total of 11 kilometers.

“This project is a curse. It will not only kill our livelihood. The R-1 road project is also meant to remove us from fishing communities. Where we will go from here? This government is not after our rights and welfare. It is only after the interest of big investors and real estate money makers in exchange for fat kickbacks,” the SMBC spokesperson said in a press statement.

Shavez said the R-1 expressway extension project will displace 26,000 fisherfolk families and urban poor residents in the coastal towns of Bacoor, Kawit, Binakayan, Noveleta and Cavite City. Last year, around 1,000 fishing and urban poor families were demolished and relocated to Tanza. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) promised to give P 15,000 to each family whose houses were demolished.

“We want an end to his corporate takeover and plunder. We want our fishing and housing rights back and guaranteed. We will not leave,” the SMBC spokesperson added.

For his part, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap blamed the ambitious Sangley dream of former Senator and PRA chair Ramon Revilla Sr. as the main culprit behind the looming demolition of fisherfolk communities in many coastal towns of the province.

“This aging and has-been actor and politician, now PRA chair wants to achieve Sangley dream at the expense of thousands of fisherfolk and urban poor. In partnership with the criminal, puppet and corrupt administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the old Revilla is mortgaging and selling the future of Cavite fishers and urban poor to the highest bidders and plundering clients of Malacañang,” added Hicap.

Hicap 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 Pamalakaya leader said the Sangley Point project was Mrs. Arroyo’s birthday gift to Revilla.

“The R-1 extension project which is directly link to old Revilla’s Sangley escapade is an exchange deal between the Arroyos and the old Revilla. They don’t mind about their collaborations killing impact to the livelihood of the fisherfolk and Manila Bay’s fragile environment,” said Pamalakaya

Pamalakaya leaders on Monday went to the Office of Senator Jamby Madrigal, now chair of the Senate Committee on Environment to investigate the harsh effects of reclamation activities to marine life in Cavite and in the entire Manila Bay.

They 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 said the reclamation activities conducted by the PRA and the UEM-Mara Philippine Corp. violated the recent Supreme Court decision on the rehabilitation of Manila Bay adding that the reclamation is destructive to the marine environment.

“We cannot bring Manila Bay back to its pristine state and historic glory if the Arroyo government continues to sanction the anti-environment and anti-people business activities of the PRA and the UEM-Mara Philippine Corp. The R-1 extension project and the Sangley big ticket item project of Revilla Sr. are in violations of the high court’s ruling on the environment,” it said. #

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