Fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) warns that the proposed establishment of ‘fisherfolk settlement areas’ could result in forcible displacement of municipal fisherfolk. The group said that ‘all coastal communities should be instead declared as fishing settlements’.
“Coastal communities should be left as it is – exclusive for small fisherfolk families. We warn that the proposed establishment of fisherfolk settlement areas would result in massive and forced displacement of fisherfolk and coastal families from their communities,” Ronnel Arambulo, PAMALAKAYA National Spokesperson said in a statement.
The House of Representatives has already approved on third and final reading House Bill 6716 which mandates the establishment of fisherfolk resettlement areas with adequate access to fishing grounds. It is an amendment of the Section 108 of the Republic Act No. 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code.
PAMALAKAYA also questioned the motive of the bill, as among the authors was Navotas City Congressman Toby Tiangco. Last year, more than 1, 000 fisherfolk, mussel farms (tahungan) operators, and fish workers in Navotas City lost livelihood to pave way for the 650-hectare reclamation project proposed by the city government under the Tiangcos itself.
“It is alarming that one of the proponents of the bill is a congressman whose family is pushing for the displacement of coastal communities and demolition of fishing structures in Manila Bay. This attests the bill’s sinister agenda to privatize coastal communities, specifically in Navotas City.
Coastal communities should rather be preserved and allotted exclusively to small fishers. The congress should instead fast-track the bill declaring Manila Bay as reclamation-free zone to protect its coastal communities and marine resources against destructive projects,” Arambulo said.
Arambulo was referring to the House Bill 2026 which prohibits all forms of reclamation activities in Manila Bay. The bill is also pursuant to the 2008-Supreme Court continuing mandamus to rehabilitate, clean-up, and restore Manila Bay for recreational use and fishery resources development. The fisherfolk group recorded around 30 reclamation projects in Manila Bay; 21 of these projects have already acquired environmental compliance certificates (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), including the reclamation in Navotas City.
PAMALAKAYA’s position against the bill was sent to the Congress through the office of Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Arlene Brosas.