Bay, lake folks back lawmaker call for moratorium on demolitions


By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Handog Malaya Vera

MANILA, Philippines – Coastal based groups Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay (KKK-Manila Bay) and Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) on Sunday supported the call of Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. for President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to declare a moratorium on demolitions of informal settlers, including small fisherfolk sourcing their livelihood from municipal and city fishing waters of Manila Bay and Laguna Lake.

In a joint press statement, Pamalakaya, KKK-Manila Bay and SLLM also urged other lawmakers to back the proposal of Sen. Revilla on demolitions, including those areas affected by the recent series of storms and typhoons. Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France said the proposal of Revilla should also merit the support of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo and city and municipal officials not only in the National Capital Region (NCR) but also in other major towns and cities across the archipelago.

France said his group Pamalakaya and staunch allies KKK-Manila Bay and SLLM are proposing a minimum of 10- year moratorium on demolitions in NCR and the rest of the country. He said the Aquino government should pursue a comprehensive development plan that would ensure socialized housing, health, education, job creation and sufficient public services for informal settlers.

The Pamalakaya leader said fisherfolk and other residents along Manila Bay and Laguna Lake should be allowed to stay in their respective communities and develop further their fishing capability to increase productivity and increase their incomes. France said in Manila Bay, the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects of President Benigno Simeon Aquino will displace not less 20,000 fisherfolk and urban poor families in Navotas City, and another 10,000 families of fisherfolk and urban poor in Bacoor and nearby coastal towns in Cavite.

Pamalakaya said in Laguna Lake, the Aquino administration is planning to evict 100,000 fishing and urban poor families to pave way for the construction of 100-kilometer road dike which will cover the coastal areas of Taytay in Rizal, Taguig City and Muntinlupa City in NCR and more than 10 coastal towns of Laguna province from Sta. Rosa to Sta. Cruz. Revilla asserted that under Section 28 of Republic Act (RA) 7279, or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, eviction or demolition involving underprivileged and homeless citizens must be only carried out during good weather, “unless there is consent from the affected families.

“Being evicted by force and watching while your house is being torn down is already indignation to anyone, and it is more aggravating if it is being done with the heavy downpour as backdrop. Families with nowhere to go most likely will not allow that,” Sen. Revilla pointed out in a press statement.

Kadamay report

Revilla cited a report of urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) that forced eviction and violent demolitions have left some 35,000 residents, mostly women and children, homeless in Metro Manila.

“The sight of their home being wrecked and having no definite shelter during bad weather would certainly place a mother or a child in fear of imminent physical harm . This is aside from the risk of getting sick from colds, fever and water-borne diseases such as dengue, diarrhea, cholera and leptospirosis,” added Revilla.

The senator from Cavite argued that implementation of demolition orders should be done properly with an order from the court and must have substantial number of demolition crew and security forces to protect and help the families hit by typhoons.

Based on a 2010 study by the government-run research agency Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the Philippines is among Asian countries with a large number of slum dwellers.

From 2000 to 2006, slum population increased at an annual rate of over 3.5 percent compared to urban population growth rate of 2.3 percent. In Metro Manila alone, an estimated 37 percent of the population, or over four million people, lived in slums in 2010. By 2050, the slum population in Metro Manila is estimated to reach nine million Pamalakaya noted that the government is effectively using the high court decision on Manila Bay rehabilitation to destroy people’s livelihood, effect a wholesale dislocation of people and in perpetual mode, leads the Manila Bay to its final destruction courtesy of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) escapade of the Aquino administration.

Close to 3 M

Pamalakaya, KKK-Manila Bay and SLLL said close to 3 million coastal people in Metro Manila and Cavite are still dependent on fishing as a principal source of livelihood, while in Manila Bay not less than 5 million people are largely dependent to fishing and reside along the coastal shores of the bay encompassing Cavite, Las Pinas, Paranaque, Navotas, Bulacan and Bataan. They said any move to transform or convert Manila Bay and Laguna Lake for PPP projects purposes will have a killing impact on the livelihood of small fishermen, aside from the fact that they would be demolished from their communities, once construction of support structures and establishments begins.

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