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Reclamation plan worries Navotas fisherfolk

Tuesday’s off-shore protest action is over a project approved in 2015. —Krixia Subingsubing

Around 100 members of Navotas City’s fishing community took to the water on Tuesday in protest against a 650-hectare reclamation project on Manila Bay, which they said would displace around 20,000 people

Setting off on 27 boats and organized by the militant group Pamalakaya, the protesters came from Barangay Tangos to the city’s centennial plaza, assembling along the fence marking the planned Navotas Boulevard Business Park (NBBP).

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The project was approved in 2015 and is currently on the detailed engineering stage, according to 2017 data from the Philippine Reclamation Authority.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the fishermen were just asserting their rights to their fishing grounds. “Once the project pushes through, (its builders) would surely have to wipe out homes along the shoreline to make way for the business park. What would happen to our poor fisherfolk if they are relocated far from where they work?” he asked.

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Known for its fishing and shipbuilding industries, Navotas is home to around 7,000 fishermen relying on Manila Bay, some venturing as far as Cavite province.

“This city, its reputation as a fishing community, was built on the backs of humble, hardworking fishermen like us,” said Samuel Miller, 54, one of the protesters.

Miller, who said he had fishing for livelihood since he was 8, said there were people who recently offered him and his peers P10,000 each to convinced them to demolish their homes to make way for the project.

“We might be better off if the government could offer us a relocation site where we can have stable jobs. But with no option like that, fishing is all that we know,” he said.

Mayor John Rey Tiangco could not be immediately reached for comment.

City public information officer Irish Cubillan said the local government had no knowledge of such cash offers being made.

City Hall has yet to discuss the project’s scope with the fisherfolk, but they should not be worried since the project has not yet started, the official said.

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TAGS: Fernando Hicap, Manila Bay reclamation, Navotas Boulevard Business Park, Navotas reclamation, NBBP, Pamalakaya
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