Initial victory for Cavite fisherfolk vs. DENR order, Anakpawis urges for heightened mass actions

Manila, Philippines – As the dismantling of mussel farms and fisheries structures on Manila Bay in Cavite province was postponed, the Anakpawis Party-list urged for mass actions and informed all its chapters in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and the southern part of Metro Manila to directly support the campaign of small fisherfolk in the province.  The dismantling is due to the order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which set September 7 as the deadline for fisheries structures to be voluntarily removed by local fisherfolk.  The group is also coordinating with other sectors in a possible legal action against government officials who obviously violated due processes, especially the mandated public hearing for affected stakeholders.

“The order was only publicized on August 25, then they want the Cavite fisherfolk to voluntarily lose their sources of livelihood on September 7? This is not governance, this is tyranny.  This is on top of that we are on the pandemic crisis, where poor sectors are barely surviving and now they want to wipe out a whole livelihood sector that directly affects more than 15,000 fisherfolk.  This is unethical and immoral.  There should be accountability,” Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao, Anakpawis Party-list former representative and present National President said in a press statement.

He added that the postponement is an initial victory and believed that it was due to yesterday’s mass action led by the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) in front of the DENR central office.  It was even supported by international-based groups such as the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty which has networks from Europe, Asia, and across the globe.  Pamalakaya’s National Chairperson Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap is also a former representative of Anakpawis for the 16th congress who staunchly advocated the interest of small fisherfolk at the House of Representatives. Today, he led a fluvial and bayside mass action of small fisherfolk in Bacoor City.

“We are actually leading an online protest today to further expose the DENR as the destroyer of livelihood of the small fisherfolk and carrying out a sham rehabilitation of Manila Bay.  It blabbers about rehabilitation but it has issued environmental compliance certificate to the 420-hectare Bacoor Reclamation Project being pushed by Mayor Lani Revilla.  DENR is iron-handed against the poor fisherfolk, but a cute obedient pet of traditional politicians,” Casilao slammed.

Casilao was also a complainant on the case filed at the Ombudsman in February last year.  The complaint led by Pamalakaya was that the reclamation project is violative of the principles of the Supreme Court mandamus to rehabilitate Manila Bay, and its specific order to develop fisheries resources.

“If DENR officials want to join Mayor Lani Revilla as accused at the Ombudsman, it is up to them. They should prepare themselves to face the wrath of Caviteños and other sectors,” he warned.

Ultimately, he pinpointed the blame of the threat of wiping out the Cavite heritage with rich and abundant fisheries resources to the Duterte administration who is desperate to generate funds by promoting reclamation projects in Manila Bay.

“It is so traditional that projects involving giant profits of foreign monopoly, and even of Chinese corporations are surging prior the national elections.  We urge for a broad people’s opposition against the DENR order and reclamation projects in Manila Bay,” he ended. ###

Photos by Pamalakaya, Anakpawis Cavite and Umani Productions.

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