Rep. Fernando Hicap said the Aquino government is pursuing a national policy that would cause massive displacement of fisherfolk, small coconut farmers and urban poor in rural areas and towns devastated by super typhoon last year.
By GERRY ALBERT CORPUZ
Manila – A progressive lawmaker on Tuesday filed a resolution directing the House Committees on Aquaculture and Fisheries and Public Works and Highways to conduct a joint inquiry on the impact of No Build Zone and No Dwell Zone policy on small-fishermen and other residents in coastal areas affected by super typhoon Yolanda last year and covered by said policy announced by President Benigno Aquno III a week after the storm paralyzed Region 8 and 42 other provinces.
House Resolution No. 947 authored by Anakpawis partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap filed on March 11, 2014. a copy of which was e-mailed to Bulatlat.com, cited a report compiled by the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) questioning the policy that would displace over 100,00 small fishermen in Yolanda affected areas and might affect the economic activities of not less than 800,000 people who are largely dependent on fishing for day-to-day livelihood.
In an interview at his office in the House of Representatives, shortly after the filing of the resolution, Rep. Hicap said the Aquino government is pursuing a national policy that would cause massive displacement of fisherfolk, small coconut farmers and urban poor in rural areas and towns devastated by super typhoon last year. The Anakpawis partylist legislator, also a small fisherman from Cavite, noted that his peers in Manila Bay are also told to prepare for the implementation of a no-build zone policy in the same way it was carried out in Samar and Leyte provinces.
Prior to the filing of House Resolution No. 947, Rep. Hicap delivered a privilege speech last week about the current plight of 1.3 million Filipino fisherfolk all over the country. In his speech, the Anakpawis lawmaker delivered a scathing indictment of the No Build Zone policy and the across-the-nation program of the government to sell fisheries resources and coastal areas to big business at the expense of the poor.
“The no-build zone policy prohibits small fishermen and other residents from returning to their fishing villages and that construction of houses and settlements near the coastlines and 40 meters away from the shoreline are also prohibited,” the resolution read. The Anakpawis congressman also learned that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) would expand the coverage of the no-build zone policy from 40 meters to 200 meters away to pave the way for eco-tourism projects under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program of the Aquino administration.
“The truth is out. The DENR wants to implement the no-build zone policy not because they care for small fishermen. The real score is that the government wants eco-tourism projects to replace fishing communities and this is a blockbuster invitation to disaster and catastrophe to both people and the environment,” Rep. Hicap told Bulatlat.com.
Rep. Hicap maintained that the no-build zone policy will be effectively carried out to give way to corporate takeover of local and foreign private enterprises and businesses involved in rehabilitation programs and such policy will cause severe damage to livelihood and environment.
The Anakpawis legislator is also set to file another resolution calling on Congress to investigate the possible negative effects of the proposed Sangley Point reclamation project to give way to the construction of a new international airport that would replace the old Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City. Last week, Transportation and Communications secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya announced that the government is planning to reclaim 2,700 hectares of shallow waters in Cavite City for the international airport.
“The no-build zone policy might be carried out to fast track the planned international airport in Cavite City,” said Rep. Hicap.
In a separate interview, Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France asked lawmakers from Eastern Visayas and other areas affected by the no-build zone policy in Northern Negros, Northern Cebu, Panay Island and Guimaras and Palawan to support HR No. 947, saying that their support to Hicap’s resolution is necessary to proceed with the congressional inquiry on the impact of no-build zone policy to small fishermen and other residents of affected fishing villages.
“We appeal to district congressmen of Yolanda stricken areas to support HR No, 947 authored by the Anakpawis partylist representative. It would be better if they co-author the resolution with the strong backing of other progressive lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc composed of Anakpawis, Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kabataan and Alliance of Concerned Teachers”, the Pamalakaya official said.
As of January 29, 2014, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that typhoon Yolanda had affected Eastern Visayas and 40 more provinces. It said not less than 16 million people were affected by the super storm, claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people, injured nearly 30,000 individuals and around 1,785 people are still missing since November 8, 2013.
Pamalakaya asserted that the no-build zone policy will also be carried out in Laguna Lake and Manila Bay to justify the construction of new international airport and big time PPP projects in the 90,000 hectare lake and provide premium to large-scale and widespread reclamation projects in Manila Bay. In Laguna Lake, the fisherfolk group said, the no-build zone policy will be used as instrument to dislocate around 3.9 million people, while in Manila Bay, Pamalakaya feared that some 6 million people will be evicted to pave the way for big land reclamation projects of the Public Reclamation Authority (PRA).