Hundreds of fisherfolk united under the banner of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) held a fluvial protest in Cavite today, March 14, to demand an immediate halt to destructive dredging activities in the southern part of Manila Bay.
More than 50 fishing boats sailed along the municipal waters of Rosario, Tanza, and Noveleta in Cavite. The fishers, who come from various affected coastline communities, protested against the ongoing dredging operations in the region which have caused a severe impact on their livelihood.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA lamented that the dredging activities, which began in 2021, have inflicted substantial and irreparable harm on the marine ecosystem in Manila Bay and have resulted in a drastic decline in fish stocks, imperiling the livelihood of thousands of small-scale fishers in the province of Cavite.
During the protest, the fisherfolk group reiterated its call for the revocation of the environmental permits granted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to the destructive dredging operations of San Miguel Corporation and the Dutch company Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. in Manila Bay.
“Sa isa sa mga pag-aaral nito, mismong ang DENR na ang nagsabi na masagana pa sa bahura ang katimugang bahagi ng Manila Bay, partikular sa lalawigan ng Cavite. Kung kaya’t nakapagtataka na inaprubahan at patuloy na pinahihintulutan ang mga mapanirang proyektong ito,” said PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap, citing a study by DENR’s Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB), which found that 72% of coral reefs in Manila Bay are located in Cavite.
“Napakalaking perwisyo na ang idinulot ng dredging sa mga mangingisda sa Cavite. Hindi na dapat hayaang madagdagan pa ang lawak ng pinsala nito sa kalikasan at sa kabuhayan ng mga maliliit na mga mangingisda sa lalawigan,” Hicap said.
[English translation: “In one of its own studies, the DENR itself said that the southern part of Manila Bay, particularly the province of Cavite, is still rich in coral reefs. So it baffles us that they greenlit, and continue to allow, these destructive dredging projects.
“The dredging activities have already caused significant harm to fishers. It must not be allowed to further damage the marine life and the livelihoods of small-scale fisherfolk in the province.”]
According to Hicap, the fishers’ sustained and consistent pushbacks against the dredging activities during the past weeks have resulted in a reduction of the number of dredging vessels in Rosario from three to just one. However, the fisherfolk leader emphasized that the protests are far from over until the dredging activities are completely stopped and until the companies behind the destructive operations pay for the damages that they have caused to the coastal ecosystems and the livelihoods of fishers. ###
Fernando Hicap – 0921-897-0239