By Himala dela Cuesta, Bona Buena Ponte and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- The 480 foreign delegates to the 4th International Assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) held in Manila on July 7-9 had urged Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino to drop reclamation projects in Boracay,Manila Bay, Laguna Lake, Panglao in Bohol, Cordova and Metro Cebu in Cebu province citing its negative impacts to fisherfolk livelihood marine biodiversity.

A resolution calling for a halt on reclamation projects under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program was sponsored at the floor by the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) during the ILPS plenary was approved by activists from USA, CanadaCanada, Argentina, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Ecuador, Mexico, South Africa,Kenya, Senegal, Cameroon, Burundi, Italy, Belgium, Greece, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Pakistan, India,Sri Lanka, Nepal, Japan, South Korea, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines.

According to Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap, the ILPS delegates said President Aquino should immediately stop the reclamation projects in Navotas City, in Las Pinas and Paranaque and in several coastal municipalities of Cavite province, all in Manila Bay, which the ILPS described as reclamation for big business and foreign capitals and not for the people and environment.

Citing a recent study conducted by scientists from the UP Marine Science Institute (UP MSI), which was commissioned by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI)-Boracay on the effects of the P1-billion reclamation project in mainland Aklan’s jump-off point to Boracay Island, the ILPS said that the project could destroy the coral reefs in the area.

The ILPS resolution also said reclamation cause changes in water current patterns, especially in the northern areas of the jetty port in Barangay Caticlan in Malay town where the sea channel toward Boracay is at its narrowest. The altered water pattern could increase the volume of sediments swept toward the island, eventually smothering and killing the coral reefs;

“Despite the warning made by UP scientists on the impact of reclamation, the local government had started develop-ment work in Caticlan in December 2010. The project covers 2.64 hectares. The memorandum of agreement with the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) signed on May 17, 2010 involves 40 hectares, of which 36.82 hectares are in Caticlan and 3.18 hectares are in Boracay”, according to a resolution prepared by Pamalakaya and approved by ILPS.

ILPS and Pamalakaya also said that the reclamation project includes expanding port facilities, recovering coastline areas and putting up commercial buildings for offices, as well as a health and wellness center. The project cost is P260 million in its initial phase and P785 million in the succeeding phases.

“The unimaginable disastrous impact of reclamation is also the subject of opposition to another ambitious reclamation project this time in Panglao Island, province of Bohol,” the groups noted.

Pamalakaya and ILPS also noted in the resolution the location of the project developed by Oasis Leisure Islands and Development Inc. is composed of cluster of islands. The project proponent said the first one of about 150 hectares is intended for commercial and recreation areas, convention centers, hotels and other facilities; the second island (150 has.) is for institutional and residential, spas and medical tourism facilities; and the third one (75 has.) would house for small commercial establishments such dive and souvenir shops and apartment for people who work here;

The fourth island (70 has.) would be reserved for nature’s park or camping grounds or fishing for commercial use. Here, “private sector can be tapped for coral planting and other marine-based initiatives for the conservation and protection of the environment.” The fifth cluster of islets (5 has.) can be acquired privately;

Pamalakaya and ILPS activists also assailed the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) for pushing another reclamation project in Manila Bay with the reclamation of 615 hectares of foreshore waters that would affect the 175-hectare bird sanctuary in Manila Bay, the only remaining bird sanctuary and mangrove forest area in the National Capital Region (NCR).

They said the Philippine government also intend to reclaim the foreshore areas in Navotas city for the P 50-B North Bay Boulevard Project that will displace not less than 20,000 fishing families to pave way for industrial and commercial programs of foreign monopoly capitalists and their local partners in crime.

The ILPS and Pamalakaya likewise assailed the planned reclamation in Laguna Lake involving over 5,000 hectares of lake water to pave way for the creation of another international airport covering Taguig and Muntinlupa and the establishments of more high rise condominiums and commercial establishments along the lake.

“The Philippine government should now seriously review its policy on reclamation of coastal areas, given the impact of this economic activity to fisherfolk livelihood, community rights and marine environment. We support the Pamalakaya resolution calling on Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to stop this across-the-nation reclamation of communal fishing communities for the sake of the capitalist exploiters and plunderers who are cherished by the PPP regime of Mr. Aquino,” ILPS and Pamalakaya added.

GerryAlbert is based in Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines, and is Anchor for Allvoices

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