Groups seek international help over DENR's dismantling order in Manila Bay

Published September 23, 2021, 6:04 PM

by Joseph Pedrajas

Various groups opposing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR’s) order to dismantle fishing structures in the Manila Bay have warned of bringing their concern before an international committee as the demolition activity, which is set Saturday, sees no sign of stopping.

Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator of the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination & Liberation, said Thursday that they “will make sure that the plight of the Cavite fisherfolk and urban poor sector is exposed in the Global People’s Summit on Food Systems.”

The three-day Global People’s Summit on Food Systems, which started Sep. 21, is currently being held in different countries, particularly in the U.S., Italy, Bolivia, Kenya, Jordan and the Philippines, “to draw up a declaration for a radical transformation of the current food regimes towards just, equitable, and sustainable food systems.”

“While monopoly agro-corporations are lobbying at the United Nations for more corporate control over the global agriculture and food systems, here in the Philippines, the producing sector is facing the worse and more primitive issue of outright destruction of the community-based food system and displacement from livelihood,” Longid said in a statement.

Longid also joined members of fishers’ group Pamalakaya and farmers’ group Anakpawis in a protest rally held outside the DENR’s office in Quezon City Thursday.

They were vehement in opposing the DENR’s order, which directs the removal of at least 370 illegal aquaculture structures in three areas in Cavite, although the agency already assured the public that small-scale fishers would benefit from the demolition activity. The implementation of the order has already been moved from Sep. 7 to Sep. 25.

During the protest, Pamalakaya spokesman Ronnel Arambulo said the DENR’s order “should be the kind of policy the United Nations should stop.”

“The fisherfolk and urban poor families are suffering because of the lockdown, and declining household incomes, but the Duterte government is hell-bent on destroying sources of food and livelihood. We are announcing to the world that in the Philippines, the government has already deprived the fisherfolk of production subsidy and ‘ayuda (assistance),’ and yet it is destroying the livelihood of poor sectors,” he said.

He also urged all fisherfolk communities in the Manila Bay to unite against any reclamation projects that will displace their communities and sources of livelihood.