Proposed 2018 GAA loaded with demolition budget – fisherfolk group
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Wednesday decried the P3.8 trillion proposed national budget for 2018, a 12.4% higher than this year’s General Appropriations Act (GAA) where bulk of the budget or a whopping P1.097 trillion is meant for big-ticket infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build program of the Dutertenomics.
The group fears massive displacement and demolition of urban poor and fishing communities in pursuant to these infrastructure projects.
“The 2018 proposed national budget is prone to corruption and loaded with displacement of urban poor and fisherfolk from communities and livelihood. President Duterte’s addiction to infrastructure projects prevent him to realize that the economic plan he’s focusing on is actually detrimental to the Filipino people and would less likely to contribute to economic growth. He even fails to include budget for resettlement areas for the poor families who will be affected by the projects,”
“With President Duterte’s line up of infrastructures, we will not be surprised if hundreds of reclamation projects pending throughout the Philippine waters would push through,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA said more than 100 coastal reclamation projects under the National Reclamation Plan (NRP) are awaiting for the palace’s approval. This covers almost 40,000 hectares of fishing waters and coastal areas, and if completed would effectively wipe out fishing and coastal communities from the Philippine map. NRP mainly includes construction of commercial establishments, eco-tourism, industrial and business hubs.
The 29% increase of budget for infrastructure is to expedite the construction of railways, airport, seaports, and bridges, where huge part of it will be sourced from local and foreign debt.
“The budget increase would gratify the pet projects of both local and foreign developers and even local government. Build, Build, Build is privatization of public lands and facilities and debt-driven program that will benefit no one but the giant local and foreign oligarchs. In the end, hardworking Filipinos will shoulder the burden of this Dutertenomics’ mess through unwarranted tax increase,” added Hicap.
The group criticized the Duterte administration’s lack of priority on social services including housing, education, health, and calamity assistance.
PAMALAKAYA said Duterte should instead focus on agriculture and rural development through state subsidies, land reform, and genuine modernization that will increase productivity of farmers and fishers to curtail hunger and poverty in the country. ###