3 million to be displaced
Pamalakaya’s Hicap said close to 3 million coastal people in Metro Manila and Cavite are still dependent to fishing as principal source of livelihood, and any move to transform or convert Manila Bay for other purposes like the $15-billion casino project will have a killing impact on the livelihood of small fishermen, aside from the fact that they would be demolished from their communities, once construction of support structures and establishments begins.
“The irrevocable desire of Malacañang to convert Manila Bay into an international gateway for big time gamblers both international and domestic is not only blasphemous, but also detestable and highly revolting. This government is sacrificing the future of Manila Bay fishers at the altar of corporate interest and gambling addiction of the international and domestic elites,” the Pamalakaya leader added.
The militant group asked the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to make an immediate stand against the setting up of the $15-billion casino in Manila Bay. The group said aside from killing the livelihood of the fisherfolk and the food security interest of the people, the Manila Bay casino complex will further promote the culture of gambling and anti-social activities in the country.
“The CBCP must use the pulpit and the Gospel of moral correctness to expose and oppose this $15-billion gambling escapade of Malacañang. For a start, we ask the CBCP to convince the bishops who went to the groundbreaking ceremony of the project to recall their support for the project,” Pamalakaya said.
At the ground breaking ceremony of the project last week, retired bishops Maximiano Cruz, Bishop Emeritus of Calbayog; ex-Malolos Bishop Cirilo Almario and ex-Imus Bishop Manuel Sobreviñas attended the ceremony to show support to the project.
“We ask the bishops to resurrect their strong opposition to the multi-billion dollar gambling escapade of President Arroyo and the Casino Royale syndicate,” the group said.
“The Filipino people and the Church community should not allow the Office of the President to use Manila Bay, a certified communal fishing ground, as an international gateway for gambling addicts all over the world. This is not only illegal, it is also super immoral,” Hicap added.
Pamalakaya’s Hicap said their group’s members had bitter memories of the reclamation project facilitated by the Public Estate Authority under the PEA-Amari deal, which they opposed since it was first proposed in the19 90s.
“The attack dogs of then President Fidel Ramos were always on the loose. They were running after our members like running lapdogs of the former President chasing our members as if they were the most wanted criminals in the city,” he recalled.
“From 1992 to 1995, the demolitions of coastal shanties became an everyday ordeal in Pasay Reclamation area. Houses were uprooted on almost day-to-day basis. Small and big time bribery to divide the communities were conducted to facilitate the demolition of homes as if the words and orders of Malacañang were the words of God in this country,” Hicap said.
The setting up of casino and resorts, including SM’s Mall of Asia was all in the master plan of the government known as Manila Bay Master Development Plan that officially started during the time of President Ramos and projected to end between 2020 and 2025.
The Pamalakaya leader recalled that 3,500 small fisherfolk in Pasay Reclamation Area, and another 3,000 coastal and urban poor families along the coastal shores of Parañaque were evicted by the government of former President Ramos to pave way for the construction of the proposed casino that would make the Philippines the Las Vegas of Asia.
“Our fisherfolk members and their urban poor neighbors were brutally uprooted from their main source of livelihood and communities. The Public Estate Authority is the principal government agency behind the sell out of these reclaimed lands,” Hicap remembered. Contributed to (Bulatlat.com)