With the ongoing artificial rehabilitation of Manila Bay, over 200,000 informal settler families have become apprehensive that they will be evicted from their homes.
Jeorgie Tenolete, president of Kabalikat sa Kaunlaran, a people’s organization in Baseco, Manila, expressed worry over the possible eviction of the thousands of poor families living along waterways of the Manila Bay.
“The fear of eviction among Baseco families has always haunted us every time that the government does cosmetic rehabilitation in the Manila Bay,” Tenolete said.
Last year, families from the 20-meter easement were notified of relocation by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the implementing agency of the Manila Bay shore rehabilitation project.
The DENR is not stopping the project despite calls to suspend it due to health and environmental issues. The project cost is estimated at P389 million.
In Baseco compound, the group placed the number of families in danger of displacement at 1,000.
Tenolete said they hoped the eviction would not take place during the health crisis.
“The people of Baseco or the urban poor families living along the Manila Bay do not oppose the clean-up and the rehabilitation…but this should not be at the expense of displacing thousands of families,” he added.
Kabalikat asserted the urban poor families have been doing their part to help clean and rehabilitate the Manila Bay by planting 1,000 mangrove trees in Baseco since 2010.
”For the past ten years, we made sure that we took good care of our mangroves. We believe that this is the right and genuine way to rehabilitate the Manila Bay,” said Kabalikat secretary Mayeth Betasolo.
Betasolo added they also initiated efforts to reduce waste in the bay by collecting water lilies and using them for their livelihood projects.
“I hope the government will not only see us as polluters but as citizens who through our small initiatives and contributions definitely help in the rehabilitation of the Manila Bay,” said Tenolete.