Fishers group fears P 1-B DENR budget for mangrove rehab will be use for No-Build Zone campaign
Manila, Philippines— The activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) might spend the P 1 billion allocation for the repair of mangrove areas hit by Super typhoon Yolanda to other purposes leading to the demolition of fishing and farming communities under the No-Build Zone, No-Dwell Zone policy.
“That is the sum of all our fears. The DENR under secretary Ramon Paje is pushing the limit to effect the no-build zone, no-dwell zone policy at the expense of people’s livelihood and community rights. We have this strong gut feel that the P 1 billion fund for mangrove rehabilitation will be used to displace people in Yolanda stricken areas and not to restore and cure typhoon wrecked mangroves,” Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France said in a press statement.
The DENR is set to embark on mangrove rehabilitation in areas affected by typhoon Yolanda last year. It said the mangrove rehabilitation program that would enroll local residents for cash-for-work scheme will be implemented in 11 towns and cities in areas devastated by Yolanda mainly in Leyte and Samar provinces.
“The principal job of the DENR according to the marching order of Malacanang is to make sure that people in coastal areas are wiped out to pave way for Public-Private Partnership ventures. The mangrove rehabilitation project to be funded by P 1 billion in public funds is just sugar-coated approach to red carpet devastation of livelihood and communities,” the Pamalakaya official said.
France said it is not the intention of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to rehabilitate some 28,000 hectares of mangroves in Samar, Leyte, Negros, Panay, northern Cebu and Palawan, which were believed to have suffered varying degrees of damage as a result of super storm Yolanda last year.
Pamalakaya recalled that during their dialogue in late February with DENR on no-build zone policy, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo Jasareno admitted to them that the no-build zone policy will cover 40 meters to 200 meters away from the shoreline and that the government will pursue eco-tourism to replace demolished communities.
“The P 1 billion budget for so-called mangrove rehabilitation is a big misnomer. It is a budget for something else and not intended to save livelihood and the environment,” the group asserted.
In Laguna Lake, the fisherfolk group said, the no-build zone policy will be used as instrument to dislocate around 3.9 million people, while in Manila Bay, Pamalakaya feared that some 6 million people will be evicted to pave way for big land reclamation projects of the Public Reclamation Authority (PRA).