Pamalakaya demands explanation, acceptable reason why no-dwelling edict is good

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Pamalakaya demands explanation, acceptable reason why no-dwelling edict is good

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Franklin Roosevelt Dimaguiba and Tanya Fantasia Mendoza

Manila, Philippines– Leaders of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday pressed Yolanda rehabilitation secretary Panfilo Lacson [Unlink] to explain and convince survivors of the deadly typhoon last year why coastal areas ravaged by super typhoon should no longer be allowed to dwell in fishing villages across Eastern Visayas.

In a press statement signed by Pamalakaya vice chairpersons Salvador France and Pedro Gonzales, the two fisherfolk leaders said the fisherfolk survivors of typhoon Yolanda, their families and peers deserve an explanation and acceptable reason from the rehabilitation secretary.

“We deserve an explanation and we deserve an acceptable reason from Secretary Lacson on why a no-dwelling zone, no-build zone policy shall be carried out at the expense of our livelihood and community rights.

We cannot accept the corporate logic of Mr. Lacson that big business groups shall be allowed to construct their profit-driven establishments along the coastlines of Eastern Visayas and that small fishermen shall no longer be allowed to live like fishermen. This is totally unacceptable, unfair and grossly incorrigible in the highest order,” the two Pamalakaya officials said.

France and Gonzales maintained that the no-build zone, no-dwelling zone policy which Lacson want to carry out in areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas and other provinces will cover 171 cities and municipalities. They said the national government have collapsed the 171 cities and municipalities into 24 areas of intervention that would cover Eastern Visayas and 34 more provinces affected by super typhoon Yolanda and Habagat in 2013 and Ondoy in 2009.

Pamalakaya said a class war is highly needed to frustrate” the no-build zone, no-dwelling zone policy. It said an all-out war must be the victims collective response against what the group a grand declaration of war against the poor and an open invitation for corporate takeover in areas stricken by super typhoon last year.

” A class war to be participated by small fisherfolk shall be the ultimate and correct response to this looming national recipe for death and destruction,” the group said.

On February 7, subsistence fisherfolk affected by typhoon Ondoy in 2009 in Laguna Lake will kick off a fluvial protest to oppose the new measure removing fishermen in Yolanda and Ondoy stricken communities.

On February 14, Valentines Day, the group will troop to the national office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City to submit a people’s petition compelling the DENR to scrap the no-build zone policy and allow subsistence fishermen in Tacloban City and other areas in Eastern Visayas to return to their fishing villages to rebuild their homes and go back to fishing.

Pamalakaya also announced that a petition questioning the legality of the no-build zone policy will be submitted either to the Department of Justice (DoJ) or the Supreme Court on February 20. On February 26 , a nationally coordinated protest against the no-build zone policy will be led by small fisherfolk and protests will be staged in Tacloban City, Bacolod City, Cebu City, Northern Iloilo and other Panay provinces, La Union and other areas in Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions.

On February 26, small fisherfolk affected by the no-build zone policy in Luzon will also stage a protest caravan from the Department of Agriculture to Mendiola.

Last week, an 12,000 survivors of super typhoon Yolanda from three provinces in Eastern Visayas staged their protest to air discontent over government’s response to the disaster and to the no-build zone policy. Storm survivors from this city, Palo, Tanauan, Tolosa, Mayorga, jaro, Alang-alang, Carigara, San Isidro, baybay, Ormoc at Albuera in Leyte; Giporlos, Quinapondan, Mac Arthur, Hernani in Eastern Samar; and Basey, Sta. Rita, Calbiga, Pinabacdao, Hinabangan, Catbalogan, Jiabong, Matuguinao,Motiong at San Sebastian in Western Samar.

“The EO declaring coastal communities as off limit zones is meant to displace us and deny our rights to livelihood and social justice. On the other hand, the absolute bias of the EO is clear– that the areas recently damaged by super typhoon Yolanda will be converted into economic zones to accommodate big business in accordance to the national land and water use policy of the state under the umbrella and direction of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) agreement,” said Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya noted that the cruel intention of the Aquino government is to remove fishing communities and contain fishing activities to give way to construction of economic zones in Yolanda stricken communities. The Pamalakaya official noted that the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is planning to build a new special manufacturing area in typhoon-ravaged Leyte under the pretext of rehabilitation and reconstruction process in Eastern Visyas.

The group learned that PEZA have already identified a 10-ha property that would be a possible site for the light industry, low-technology econozone. In addition, PEZA will also look into applications for special economic zones in the area so that the reconstruction and provision of jobs would be fast-tracked.

Pamalakaya argued that massive demolition of fishing communities is further bolstered by a bill which has been filed in the House of Representatives seeking to create a special economic zone in the typhoon-devastated city of Tacloban, Leyte.

The group was referring to House Bill 3640, or the Tacloban City Special Economic Zone Act of 2013, filed by 10 lawmakers from the independent bloc led by Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez, which stressed that establishment of the zone would spur investments in Tacloban.

The ecozone bill asserts that “there are physical, geographic and natural attributes of the Tacloban City coastline area that can make the creation of a freeport ideal. Tacloban port was a haven for international ships and even carriers as evident during the relief operations of some foreign countries in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda last November 8, 2013.”

The bill likewise said that the port is easily accessible to large commercial ships plying the seas of the Asia-Pacific Region and is just a few kilometers from the Tacloban City airport, which has plenty of room for upgrading to an international airport. Under the bill, the proposed Tacloban City Ecozone will operate as a decentralized, self-reliant and self-sustaining, industrial, commercial/trading, agro-industrial, tourist, banking, financial and investment center with suitable residential areas.

Pamalakaya said the draft Palace EO currently being worked out is billed ” ADOPTING FISHERFOLK SHELTER FOR STEWARDS (FiSH) AS A NATIONAL STRATEGY TO ENSURE SAFE AND DECENT SETTLEMENT IN COASTAL COMMUNITIES AND ESTABLISHING SUPPORTING MECHANISMS FOR ITS IMPLEMENTATION”.

The group said the EO has a potential to remove over 9 million fishermen and coastal people or about 10 percent of the country’s population. “Once signed by the President, it will legalize the removal and demolition of fishing villages. “The EO on fish settlement is an open declaration of war against the Filipino fishing community,” Pamalakaya said.

In justifying his EO, the President said Filipinos should learn from painful lessons of Yolanda, as well as tropical storms “Sendong” and typhoon “Pablo”. President Aquino said the DENR had marked “danger zones” many coastal areas based on the geo-hazard mapping of Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

Pamalakaya, and its chapters— Pamalakaya-Eastern Visayas, Pamalakaya-Negros, Pamalakaya- Panay and Guimaras, Pamalakaya-Cebu and Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog will lead the filing of petition questioning the EO’s constitutionality before SC.

The group said it will also tapped the support of non-government organizations like the Visayas based Fisheries and Marine Environmental Research Institute (FMERI) and the Fisherfolk Development Center (FIDEC) in questioning the EO before the high tribunal.

Pamalakaya said while President Aquino is agitated in removing more than 9 million people along coastal areas in the country, it is extremely obsessed in selling coastal areas to private corporations and foreign companies engaged in large-scale reclamation, blacksand mining, ecozone projects and tourism development programs.

Pamalakaya said President Aquino should be held chiefly responsible for the loss of lives that is now pegged by the national disaster agency to 6,000 plus lives, for the injury of 18,557 individuals, for the missing 1,602 people and for more than 2. 145 million families or more than 9 million individuals displaced.

Prior to typhoon Yolanda, the situation of the people in Eastern Visayas, the most devastated region is deplorable. Region VIII which compromises the provinces of Samar and Leyte ranks the 3rd poorest region in the Philippines as of 2013.

Another region hit, Western Visayas that include Negros, Panay and Guimaras islands, has a poverty incidence of 24.7 % and unemployment rate of 27.8 percent. ###

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