PUTTING up the “no-build zone” in coastal areas devastated by Supertyphoon Yolanda last year has contributed to the country’s unemployment problem, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said on Wednesday.
Salvador France, vice chairman of Pamalakaya, said a significant population of mostly fishermen and agricultural workers were restricted to their bunkhouses and tent cities and prevented from pursuing livelihood means like fishing by the policy to make coastal areas in Eastern Visayas “off-limits” to dwellings.
France was reacting to the latest Social Weather Station (SWS) report that the number of unemployed Filipinos swelled to 12.1 million or by 27.5 percent during the last quarter of 2013.
The report said 2.5 million Filipinos joined the ranks of the jobless between September and December 2013.
“The dramatic increase in unemployment is the work of the national government. The Aquino administration stopped tens of thousands of fishers and rural workers from going to work because it wants big business to come in for major rehabilitation projects with promised of high return on investments,” France said.
The “no build zone” policy restricted more than 100,000 small fishermen and at least 800,000 workers dependent on fishing to pursue fishing activities when Yolanda hit Eastern Visayas and 34 more provinces last year, France said.
Unemployment, France said, is also partially due to the government’s failure to address rehabilitation challenges in other Yolanda stricken areas such as Northern Cebu, Northern Negros, Northern Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Antique and Palawan.
Earlier this week, Pamalakaya urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to dismantle the “no-build zone” markers it installed and allow small fishermen to return to their villages and resume fishing activities.
The markers indicate the 40-meter legal easement from shores to inland in San Joaquin in Palo, Leyte, up to San Juanico Bridge in Tacloban City.
The group noted that the no-build zone currently imposed by DENR covers some 35.88 kilometers from Palo to Tacloban City.
“Something must be done to stop Malacañang, the DENR, the DPWH and the rehabilitation task force of Panfilo Lacson from clearing the area of small fishermen to give way to corporate takeover of big business groups. The program of rehabilitation which the government wants to carry out is extremely anti-people and promotes joblessness and zero opportunities,” France said.
The group earlier chided the decision of the government to allow big businesses to take the lead in the rehabilitation of the Yolanda-devastated areas.