More than 20,000 families belonging to fisherfolk communities will be forcibly evicted by the construction of the proposed new Manila International Airport in Bulacan, a militant fishers’ group said.
The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) raised concerns over the eviction of thousands of fishermen and coastal families to pave the way for the project in this time of coronavirus pandemic.
“Worse is (that) the demolition will occur in the midst of a pandemic, where the government is strictly enforcing a stay-at-home policy,” Pamalakaya chair Fernando Hicap said.
The New Manila International Airport, which will cover an area of 2,500 hectares, is set to break ground in October in the coastal areas of Bulakan town in Bulacan.
San Miguel Corp. (SMC) bagged the contract for the P735-billion project in August last year. The airport construction will take 10 years.
The project aims to provide a new aviation gateway for the country, thereby easing congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and reducing traffic in Metro Manila.
According to Pamalakaya, four fishing villages will be directly affected by the airport project. These are Taliptip, Bambang, Perez, and Bagumbayan.
The group also criticized the House Committee on Ways and Means for granting tax incentives to San Miguel Aerocity Inc., a subsidiary of SMC.
Voting 25-2 in a virtual hearing, the committee members approved the tax provision of the measure which grants SMC a franchise to construct, develop, establish, operate, and maintain a domestic and international airport in Bulacan.
“The legislators who facilitate the deliberation of the airport’s franchise (are) violating the highest court’s order to rehabilitate Manila Bay sans reclamation,” Hicap said.
“They should be held accountable if this environmentally-destructive project takes place and if thousands of fishing families will be demolished,”he added.
Pamalakaya expressed doubts that Congress “conducted (or checked) and studied its environmental and social impacts.”
“Did the Congress even consult the directly and indirectly affected stakeholders of the airport?“ Hicap asked. “We highly doubt because this project has already received rounds of criticism and opposition both from the fishing sector, and (from) scientists and environmental experts.”