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Fisherfolk group wants ‘pro-people’ Manila Bay rehab

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A national federation of fishermen and fishworkers on Thursday called for a more “pro-people” rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

Pablo Rosales, Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Mangingisda chairperson, expressed disappointment over the failure of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to hold a dialogue with them in the P47-billion rehabilitation plan of Manila Bay.

“The government’s plan is anchored on restoring the bay’s waters to pristine quality, in order to make it safe for swimming again. It wants to employ a Boracay-style clean up in a body of water that is facing much more complex challenges,” he said, saying that the 190-kilometer Manila Bay is much bigger than the 1,000-hectare Boracay Island in Aklan.

“And more importantly, around five-million people are living in the coastal areas around the bay, their livelihoods dependent on the bay’s resources,” he said.

Gilbert Reyes, a Pangisda leader in Paranaque City, said they were never consulted.

“Instead of consulting us and employing our assistance in the rehabilitation efforts as key stakeholders, the communities are being threatened of evictions and demolitions,” he said.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the bay’s rehabilitation will kick off on Jan. 27.

“What will happen to the small fishers in Manila Bay who are dependent on fishing for their livelihoods? How will the government address the economic displacement that will result from its rehabilitation plan?” Reyes asked.

He, however, clarified Pangisda is not against the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

“Fishers and people living along the coastline support the rehabilitation of Manila Bay. But it has to be about reviving and sustaining the life of the Bay and reviving and sustaining the livelihoods of fishers dependent on its resources,” he said.

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