“The no-build zone policy is outright demolition. The no-build zone policy clearly serves big businesses, not the people.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – The urban poor who were affected by Typhoon Yolanda are opposing the proposed “no-build zone” policy of the government, calling it as “anti-people rehabilitation.”
“Life has become more difficult for the survivors since the government has been very slow in providing for the immediate needs of the typhoon victims, especially food, shelter and livelihood. We know that the presence of Aquino’s minions – DILG Sec. Mar Roxas, DND Sec. Voltaire Gazmin and DOE Sec. Jericho Petilla – in the region was a mere show, done in the guise of helping the victims rebuild their lives, but actually intended to position themselves in the 2016 elections,” Joel Abaño of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap in Tacloban City said.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau director Leo Jasareno said in recent reports that the government would be implementing a no-build policy in Tacloban City that would cover 284.5 hectares of land affected by storm surges, 70.6 hectares that are prone to landslides and 64.8 prone to flooding.
Abaño, a resident of Barangay 37 Reclamation Area in Tacloban City, called the policy as an “anti-people rehabilitation program.” He said it would just add to the sufferings of the survivors of the typhoon. The ‘no-build zone’ policy, which would also cover 40 meters from the shoreline, would result to “massive displacements of families from their livelihood and denial of their right to housing,” Abaño said.
Residents, he added, have nowhere to go to after losing their shelter and livelihood — mostly fishing and selling in the market and in the port area — to the typhoon.
To show the community’s defiance, Abaño said, residents are now starting to rebuild makeshift shelters from the debris left by the typhoon to assert that “we are not going anywhere.”
Residents, they said, would be displaced and forced to live in “overpriced and corruption-riddled bunkhouses,” which, according to Abaño, is too small for a regular Filipino family of five to 10 members to fit in.
“The occupants will definitely endure conditions way below human standards,” he added.
Fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, in a previous Bulatlat.com report, said the planned ‘no-build zone’ policy would displace the poor but welcome big businesses. They added that the Philippine Economic Zone Authority is planning to construct a manufacturing area in the typhoon-affected areas in Leyte.
The said plan is stipulated in House Bill 3640 or the Tacloban City Special Economic Zone Act of 2013 that proposed to operate an ecozone that is decentralized, self-reliant and self-sustaining industrial, commercial, trading, agro-industrial, tourist, banking, financial and investment center.
“The no-build zone came like a wrecking ball that will hit every fishing village. The fisherfolk are being told not to return for their safety but the government is planning to build infrastructures for big businesses. This is highly objectionable and totally outrageous,” Pamalakaya said.
Abaño urged the government to implement a rehabilitation program that would sincerely address the needs of the survivors of the typhoon.
He added that, “the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts of the government should not be geared towards profits for private entities. The no-build zone policy is land grabbing on a grand scale. The no-build zone policy is outright demolition. The no-build zone policy clearly serves big businesses, not the people.”