Fisherfolk groups in the Philipines on Monday threatened to file criminal and administrative charges against Environment Secretary Ramon Paje if he continued to ignore their demands to stop land reclamation projects in Manila Bay and other areas.
The groups led by the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) have likewise opposed the confirmation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) chief in the Commission on Appointments.
Pamalakaya and other fisherfolk organizations accused Paje of ignoring their complaints against reclamation projects in Manila Bay and other areas covered by the national reclamation plan of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA).
Secretary Paje is not listening to the collective sentiment of Manila Bay fishers and the urban poor. He is not saying anything about our plea to his office to cease and desist from issuing environmental compliance certificates (ECC) to bigtime reclamation developers, Pamalakaya chair Fernando Hicap said in a statement.
Hicap said Paje was playing dumb to the demands of fisherfolk groups.
Hicap said the environment secretary was giving them a reason to charge him in court. We will strongly and seriously consider that, he added.
On Oct. 16, Pamalakaya sent a demand letter to Paje urging him to stop the issuance of ECCs to large-scale reclamation developers in Manila Bay and other areas across the country.
The group said they were disturbed by DENR pronouncements that it would not be a major obstacle to the PRA’s 102 reclamation projects which they described as probig business, antipoor and antienvironment. The projects are part of President Aquino’s public-private partnership program.
Pamalakaya said the P14-billion Las Piñas-Parañaque reclamation project, which will cover 26,234 hectares of coastal waters, posed a major threat to the livelihood of fisherfolk.
They said the PRA also planned to develop the former US naval base Sangley Point in Cavite City with the reclamation of no less than 5,000 hectares of foreshore area for the construction of a seaport and international airport for the Southern Tagalog region.
In Navotas City, the city government is also planning to reclaim 5,000 hectares of foreshore area to enable the city to modernize its fish port, expand its seaport and make Navotas comparable to Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and Kuala Lumpur.
2012, Philippine Daily Inquirer