Manila, Philippines- Survivors of super typhoon Yolanda on Monday appealed to Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel Roxas II to cease-and-desist from implementing the controversial No-Build Zone policy currently carried out in Tacloban City and the rest of Eastern Visayas.
In their letter of appeal dated February 17, the survivors represented by the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and the multisectoral alliance People Surge said the opposition to the no-build zone policy is an open book to Secretary Roxas, and that the DILG chief is legally and morally bound to honor the collective interest of the survivors and the Filipino public demanding the immediate and unconditional scrapping of the policy.
Pamalakaya and People Surge leaders in their letter reminded Secretary Roxas that last month, about 13,700 survivors of typhoon Yolanda took the streets of Tacloban City to denounce the policy and that display of resistance of the people against the No- Build Zone order must be strongly considered in favor of junking the policy.
Pamalakaya vice chairperson Peter Gonzales, who led a delegation of anti-no-build zone groups this morning also insisted that DILG should start dismantling the markers put up by the Department of Environment and Natural Resouces (DENR) along the coastline of San Joaquin in Palo, Leyte to the stretch of San Juanico Bridge in Tacloban City. The fisherfolk leader said the markers put up by DENR covers 35 kilometers of coastal area.
“Mr. Secretary, we hope to see these markers of no-build zone removed within this week. We also appeal to the DILG to instruct the city government of Tacloban and other municipal governments of Leyte, Eastern Samar, Western Samar and Northern Samar to back off from pursuing the no-build zone policy in their respective localities.
Pamalakaya’s Gonzales said the no-build zone policy will also cover areas affected by Habagat in 2013 and Ondoy in 2009 aside from those areas ravaged by super typhoon Yolanda. He said the policy will affect Laguna Lake and Manila Bay areas and would displace 3.9 million people and 5 million respectively.
Pamalakaya and People Surge maintain that the no-build zone policy will likewise be applied to 171 cities and municipalities all over the country based on the DENR strategy to collapse all these storm ravaged communities into 24 areas of intervention.
Last week, leaders of Pamalakaya, People Surge and Anakpawis partylist submitted a four-page petition to the Department of Justice (DoJ) asking the department to issue a ruling nullifying the controversial No-Build Zone Policy currently imposed on fishing communities ravaged by super typhoon Yolanda last year.
In their petition, the leaders of Yolanda survivors pressed DoJ Secretary Leila de Lima to probe possible violations committed by certain government agencies and officials in carrying out the No-Build Zone Policy in Tacloban City and the rest of Eastern Visayas.
Named respondents in the petition were President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson, defense secretary and National Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) chief Voltaire Gazmin, interior secretary Roxas, environment secretary Ramon Paje, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson, energy chief Jericho Petilla and welfare secretary Dinky Soliman.
The Pamalakaya leaders asserted these officials committed major offenses when they pushed for the implementation of No-Build Zone Policy across Eastern Visayas, as they argued that DoJ should pursue appropriate charges against the President and his officials.
The Pamalakaya petition says: “We, the fisherfolk survivors of super typhoon Yolanda as represented by the fisherfolk federation Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) put forward this petition letter asking the Department of Justice (DoJ) to pursue the unconditional and urgent scrapping of the No-Build Zone Policy currently imposed in Tacloban City and other areas ravaged by the perfect storm in Eastern Visayas and other parts of the country.”
Pamalakaya noted that the No-Build Zone Policy was announced by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III a week after the deadly storm placed Tacloban City and the rest of Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Panay and Negros Islands and Palawan province in shambles to keep the coastal villages away. ###