2016 Election Issue: Junk No-build Zone Or Face Electoral Defeat

by Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA – The fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) urged voters to reject the political ambitions of politicians advocating the no-build zone, no-dwell zone policy of the Aquino government. Pamalakaya said pro-no-build zone politicians deserve the rejection as punishment for denying people their basic right to life.

In an interview with this reporter, Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France said the no-build zone, no-dwell zone policy is a major issue that would make or unmake a president, a vice president, senators and congressmen and local barangay officials. “It is an electoral issue. This policy currently being carried out by the Office of the President and several government agencies under the Aquino administration will be a major election issue in 2016 polls. Those who are in favor of this policy will suffer a major backlash or humiliating defeat at the electoral box-office come 2016,” the fisherfolk leader said.

 

France said any association with the Aquino administration and its no-build zone, no-dwell zone policy would be a kiss of death.

“Political wannabes endorsed by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III– the chief player behind this highly insane no-build zone, no-dwell zone policy will not get the votes of the people in 2016,” said France.

Last week Pamalakaya urged Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to stop rehabilitation chief Panfilo Lacson from carrying out the no-dwell zone policy, which, it said is a widespread nightmare all over the country.

The group pressed Roxas to stop the no-dwell zone rampage in Panay Island that would forcibly dislocate no less than 70,000 families or 350,000 people in the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Iloilo. The displacement of people mainly farmers and small fishermen include 36,300 families in Iloilo, 16,000 families in Aklan, 12,000 families in Capiz and 5,000 families in Antique according to government estimates.

“Secretary Roxas should come to his senses and stop the Office of the President and Ping Lacson from carrying out this all-time high brutality and wholesale disregard of people’s rights and welfare. The DILG chief should rise above the occasion and take a decisive stand on the no-dwell zone, no-build zone policy to protect the farmers, the fishermen and other marginalized people,” the group said.

Few days before the break, Pamalakaya chairperson and Anakpawis partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap filed a resolution directing the House Committees on Aquaculture and Fisheries and Public Works and Highways to conduct a joint inquiry to investigate the impact of No Build Zone, No Dwell Zone policy on coastal areas affected by super typhoon Yolanda last year.

House Resolution No. 947 filed on March 11, 2014 cited a report compiled by the fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya and its chapters in Panay and Guimaras, Eastern Visayas, Laguna Lake and Manila Bay areas questioning the policy that would restrict over 100,00 small fishermen in Yolanda affected areas and might affect the economic activities of no less than 800,000 people who are largely dependent on fishing for day-to-day livelihood.

“The policy prohibits small fishermen and other residents from returning to their fishing villages; the 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 no-build zone policy from 40 meters to 200 meters from the coastline to pave the way for eco-tourism projects under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.

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.

Pamalakaya had also asked lawmakers from Eastern Visayas and other areas affected by the no-build zone, no-dwell zone policy in Northern Negros, Northern Cebu, Panay Island and Guimaras and Palawan to support HR No. 947, saying 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 group 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 no less than 16 million people were affected by the super storm, which 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, no-dwell 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). (bulatlat.com)

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PHOTO CAPTION AND CREDIT

Praeteritum et futurum (The past and the future). A survivor has his back on the destruction wrought by Typhoon Yolanda, as he looks to be pondering his future–whatever that may hold for him.  (Estancia Port, Iloilo. Photo by Raymund B. Villanueva / Bulatlat.com)

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