By Handog Malaya Vera and Gerry Albert Corpuz
MANILA, Philippines- Manila Bay and Laguna Lake based groups led by the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay (KKK-Manila Bay) and Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) on Wednesday yurged Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) secretary Rogelio Singson to quit his post despite the latter's denial that he issued a statement over the weekend threatening to blow up squatters' homes that clog waterways to ease flooding in Metro Manila and parts of Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.
"The DPWH secretary displayed a sheer act of state terrorism, quadruple platinum harassment and gross disrespect against the collective rights and sentiment of ordinary and extremely deprived people. He should resign for proposing this crime against humanity," said Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France.
"We want a honest-to-goodness response from President Benigno Simeon Aquino III regarding our inquiry if he as Chief Executive gave the seal of approval on the proposal of Singson to blast poor people's communities in the name of the governments' anti-flood campaign. But for the meantime we demand Malacanang to give Singson his walking papers," the Pamalakaya leader added.
France noted that hundreds of thousands of poor Filipinos were compelled to reside along danger zones because of desperation caused by the government's inability to provide jobs and opportunities and basic social services such as mass housing for homeless and starving people.
"The poor do not want to live in danger zones and flood prone areas. That's the real score. But Mr. Aquino, the hacienda-groomed and elitist President hated the poor so much that he and his gangland in Malacanang wanted them to disappear on earth and be replaced by shopping malls, casinos, gambling centers and high rise condominiums. What a horrible state policy, really horrible," the Pamalakaya official added.
Secretary Singson said a total of 125,000 families on waterways alone in Metro Manila and about 60,000 to 70,000 in waterways around Laguna Lake will be forcibly evicted by the national and local governments.
But Pamalakaya said the "blast campaign" was meant to secure the P 352-billion flood control project earlier envisioned by President Aquino. In exchange for juicy commissions, Pamalakaya said, Malacanang approved the the P 352 billion anti-flood projects, which covers a total of 11 infrastructure projects, including the construction of a large dam in Marikina that will cost P198.43 billion.
Pamalakaya said the “high priority” projects are the Manila core area drainage improvements, P27.2 billion; East Manggahan Floodway and improvement in Cainta and Taytay rivers, P26 billion; Malabon-Tullahan river improvements, P21.6 billion; Meycauayan river improvements, P14.04 billion; Valenzuela-Obando-Meycauayan river improvements, P8.631 billion; land-raising for small cities around Laguna lake, P7.15 billion; and improvement of inflow rivers to Laguna lake, P637 million and the West Laguna Lakeshore land-raising amounting to P 25.2 B.
Also in the plan are “marginal priority” projects: South Parañaque-Las Piñas river improvements, P17.3 billion; and West Manggahan area drainage improvements, P5.52 billion. But Pamalakaya said the 11 projects would lead to the grand massacre of people's communities situated along project sites.
Citing figures coming from the DPWH, the group said about 787,106 people, many of whom are settlers, including 330,708 along Pasig-Marikina river; 299,879 in Laguna lakeshore towns; 141,557 in San Juan river; 104,223 in Upper Marikina and Wawa rivers; 84,928 in Manggahan Floodway; 39,456 in Malabon-Tullahan river; 35,320 in Meycauayan river; and 30,278 in South Parañaque-Las Piñas river will be displaced to pave way for flood projects. The militant group said the 100-kilometer ring dike project around Laguna Lake will initially displace 89,000 households or roughly 400,000 individuals, mainly lake fishermen, farmers and urban poor.
"If these projects are intended to prevent flooding in National Capital Region and nearby provinces both in the North and South of Luzon, how come in these areas, shopping malls and high rise condominiums are constructed? People living along these communities will be displaced to pave way for big condominiums of real estate builders and shopping centers of retail giants," said Pamalakaya