Fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) urged Department of Agriculture (DA) chief Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. to “withdraw” a 420-hectare reclamation project in Bacoor City, Cavite allegedly controlled by his family.
Pamalakaya made the call despite Tiu Laurel’s earlier statement that he has divested from his business interests.
Tiu Laurel was the former President of the Frabelle Fishing Corp., the alleged proponent of the aforementioned reclamation project in Manila Bay.
The reclamation has reportedly displaced more than 700 fishing and urban poor families in Bacoor City, while at least 1,000 fishing households are still under the threat of displacement, according to Pamalakaya.
“He might have personally divested from Frabelle Fishing Corp., but that doesn’t mean that he has completely lost influence over his family-owned business. We urge Agriculture Secretary Tiu-Laurel Jr. to withdraw Frabelle’s reclamation project in Manila Bay because of its adverse impacts on fishing communities and fishing waters. Since the project officially started in 2020, fishers have experienced a significant loss of income,” Ronnel Arambulo, Pamalakaya vice chair and spokesperson said in a statement.
As DA secretary, Arambulo said it should be the utmost priority of Tiu to ensure that sources of our agri-fisheries products are intact.
“It should be a no-brainer for Secretary Tiu-Laurel Jr. that dump-and-fill activities and massive displacement of fisherfolk are a scourge to local food production,” Arambulo said.
Fishers and coastal residents have been fighting the Bacoor reclamation project, which has led to the lodging of an Ombudsman complaint against then-Bacoor City Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla in 2019 due to her “approval of the destructive project and violation of several environmental laws.”
Aside from the Bacoor City reclamation project, the fishers’ group also called on the DA to reject all the reclamation projects across the country, which has been affecting fisheries production.