“Too many malls have been built to displace us” — PH fishers

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“Too many malls have been built to displace us” — PH fishers

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Handog Malaya Vera-Yamamoto

Manila, Philippines- Too many malls have been built to displace us. Too many fisherfolk dreams have been shattered to give way to large-scale reclamation projects intended for construction of huge malls and entertainment centers.

The national lament came from anti-reclamation alliances composed of fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay (KKK-Manila Bay), Sagip Manila Bay Movement (SMBM), Save Freedom Island Movement (SFIM) and Anakpawis partylist after they learned that SM Land Incorporated is pursuing another large-scale land reclamation project in Pasay City, aside from the previous 300 hectare land reclamation deal it clinched with the Paranaque City goverment.

“The SM empire of Henry Sy is fast converting the coastal areas of Manila Bay into a Republic of Malls and Entertainment Centers to the detriment of small fishing families and poor folks.

This is happening because these reclamation projects are part of the National Reclamation Plan of President Noynoy Aquino under the banner of Public-Private Partnership,” said Salvador France, vice chair of Pamalakaya.

In a joint press statement, the groups urged Henry Sy of SM to recall the two reclamation projects involving 300 hectares of coastal areas in Pasay City and another 300 hectares in Paranaque City, citing the apocalyptic impacts of land reclamation to fisherfolk livelihood and marine environment.

“Sprouting like mushrooms, malls and entertainment centers are primed for construction in soon-to-be reclaimed areas in Manila Bay at the expense of people’s livelihood and collective rights to live in fishing communities. This is the real national disaster,” added France.

” The Henry Sy empire should refrain from establishing a republic of reclaimed areas in Manila Bay. Manila Bay is not for sale and it is own by the Filipino people,” the groups said.

Close association

The Pamalakaya leader maintained that SM was able to clinch land reclamation deals because of its close association with President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and because of local government officials obsession with juicy commissions they would get from reclamation deals.

Two weeks ago, the Pasay City council voted 8-5 to honor its reclamation partnership with the SM at a staggering cost of P 54-billion. Under the agreement, SM will reclaim 300 hectares of coastal areas, of which, 51 percent or 153 hectares will be given to the Pasay City government.

“This reclamation republic in Manila must be stopped to stop the wholesale killing of people’s livelihood and the environment, prevent disasters and other man-made and natural calamities in the near future. If the Aquino administration is sincere in saving and rehabilitating Manila Bay, it should stop corporate reclamation and takeovers in Manila Bay from south to north,” said Pamalakaya.

Juicy commissions

The Pamalakaya official said the P 54 billion land reclamation project was approved because of the juicy commissions the approving authority would get from the project, aside from the promise of lion’s shares for the higher ups including the Office of the President.

” Multiple crimes of plunder and first rate felony of corruption are written all over this P 54 billion reclamation project at the expense of people’s livelihood and environment,” said France.

Pamalakaya said SM is largely engaged in land reclamation projects along Manila Bay. The group noted that aside from Pasay City, the big business group was also eyeing another 300 hectares of coastal areas to be reclaimed in the adjacent city of Paranaque.

18 councilors

It said that on September 26, 2013, the 18 councilors of Paranaque approved Resolution No. 13-066 authorizing Paranaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez to accept the unsolicited proposal of SM Land Inc. to develop another 200 hectares of coastal area in the city.

This is in addition to the 100 hectare reclamation project awarded to SM Land Inc. in November 2012. The 18 councilors of Paranaque said the 300 hectare reclamation project in Paranaque will benefit the people in terms of taxes and employment.

They argued that the city government will have its share of reclaimed property measuring 630,000 square meters complete with roadways, drainage, underground conduits for utilities such as water, power and telephone lines.

Aside from the devastating impacts of large-scale reclamation to livelihood and marine environment, massive flooding, storm surges and extreme exposure to major earthquake, the groupd said the reclamation projects in Manila Bay was not meant for the need of the people but for the narrow interest of corporate capital and big business.

NRP

According to Pamalakaya, the 300 hectare reclamation project in Pasay City and the 300 hectare reclamation plan in Paranaque City are two of the 112 reclamation projects approved by the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) under the PPP (Public-Private Partnership) inspired National Reclamation Plan (NRP) of the national government.

Pamalakaya agreed with observations raised by other environmental groups that the country’s annual fish catch is on a steady decline largely attributable to severe degradation of coastal and marine habitats with up to 98 percent of our coral reefs currently at risk, 75.6 percent of mangroves lost in the past 82 years, and 50 percent of sea grass beds lost in the past 50 years.

It blamed reclamation for the severe degradation of coastal and marine habitats is extensive reclamation.

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