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Groups hold fluvial protest vs land-reclamation projects.

Militant groups under the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) on Tuesday launched a fluvial protest along Manila Bay to denounce the massive land-reclamation projects in the area being pushed under the Duterte administration.

The fluvial protest was held in time for the annual celebration of the World Fisheries Day on November 21.

Small fishermen in Navotas City; Bacoor, Cavite; and Bulacan onboard 20 motorized fishing boats joined the protest to condemn and reject the National Reclamation Plan (NRP).

The fluvial parade converged in Baywalk Manila, where the fisherfolk and their supporters gathered for the 'solidarity lunch,' showcasing the aquatic products that can be sourced from the waters of Manila Bay.

In Manila Bay alone, Pamalakaya recorded at least 42 reclamation projects covering 29,929 hectares are planned under the NRP.

The NRP was approved by then-President Benigno S. Aquino III and is now being continued by the Duterte administration under the banner of the 'Build, Build, Build' program. Pamalakaya said that the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) targets to complete 80 of the 102 reclamation projects under the NRP within the six-year term of President Duterte.

The group said reclamation projects in Manila Bay would result in the displacement of fishing communities and the urban poor.

The projects, also called dump and fill, are expected to further destroy the coastal and marine ecosystem of Manila Bay.

'The government is fast converting the country's productive fishing grounds into commercial districts and high-end recreational establishments at the expense of the livelihood and community rights of millions of fisherfolk and poor families in Manila Bay.

Thousands of fishing families in Metropolitan Manila are under the threat of eviction to pave way for the likes of SM Mall of Asia and Solaire Resort and Casino,' Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya chairman, said in a statement.

Hicap was referring to the construction of SM Mall of Asia and central business district on Roxas Boulevard in 2004 that displaced more than 30,000 fisherfolk and urban-poor settlers.

Among the approved reclamation projects in Manila Bay are the extension of the Manila Harbour Center, involving 50 hectares of fishing waters; the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat Ecotourism Area, 1,600 hectares; the 1,435-hectare Las Pinas-Bacoor Road Widening Project; the 419-hectare Horizon Manila Project; and the 650-hectare Navotas Boulevard Business Park.

The group refuted the legality of any reclamation project, saying it violates Section 27 of the Water Code of the Philippines, which 'prohibits construction on navigable or floatable waterways,' thus making the PRA and all its reclamation projects illegal.

'We gather today to assert our right to our fishing waters and call for the scrapping of the National Reclamation Plan. It is not too late to rehabilitate and bring back the natural ecosystem of Manila Bay. Instead of spending billions on floating commercial and business districts, why not revive and develop the destroyed mangroves and corals of Manila Bay to let marine species thrive,' Pamalakaya said.

'The so-called all-out support of Duterte for reclamation, as claimed by the PRA itself, is an all-out war against coastal resources, ecosystems and communities. The aggressive promotion of land reclamation that has already sold over 1,000 hectares of coastal ecosystems is, in fact, a dangerous and illegal racket. There is no actual policy mandate and sound regulatory guidelines for any government agency to promote this destructive milking cow of greedy corporations and bureaucrats,' said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan-PNE.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Nov 21, 2017
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