The Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines (CEC) calls on the Duterte administration to immediately address the issues relating to the proliferation of reclamation projects nationwide. Fisherfolk and local communities have been raising their concerns on the impacts that they have experienced from previous reclamation projects even before the National Reclamation Plan during the term of President Benigno Aquino III. We have conducted a Reclamation Summit in 2012 and a National Consultation of Fisherfolk on Coastal Resource Management in 2016 and the position of the fisherfolk has been consistently clear: fishing grounds should be rehabilitated and not reclaimed, and that there should be sufficient government support for their basic needs such as equipment, housing and additional income.
Fisherfolk communities have been displaced from their communities due to reclamation projects, losing their access to their fishing grounds. The habitat destruction caused by the reclamation activities have affected their fish catch and therefore caused a decline in their income.
The question as to what problems reclamation solves is still vague. Does reclamation rehabilitate the degraded fishing grounds? Does reclamation provide stable and regular livelihood with sufficient income? Does reclamation give housing to communities?
The brandishing of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), local government units and President Rodrigo Duterte himself of new reclamation projects adds insult to injury to fisherfolk who remain to be the poorest sector in the country. According to the PRA, there are 110 pending reclamation projects and more are encouraged under the Public Private Partnership program.
The response of the government is a far cry from the calls of the fisherfolk and environmental advocates. With the approaching State of the Nation Address, we expect to hear a meticulously crafted speech on the administrations so-called achievements toward development. But the truth of the worsening condition of the environment and the people cannot be hidden.