Bulakan fishermen oppose SMC’s proposed airport

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Bulacan fisherfolk have expressed their apprehension over a proposed airport being pushed by a private conglomerate saying the P700-billion project will obliterate their livelihood on a 3,000-hectare area.

Some 20 fishermen from “Samahan ng Mangingisda” in Barangay Taliptip headed by Gilbert Sebastian recently protested against the proposal at the front of Municipality of Bulakan.

“We are not against progress but we do not know where we stand, how we are to position ourselves in terms of the promised development that will result from the project if our right to our means of livelihood will be taken from us. Almost all of us here were born knowing only fishing as a means to sustain our families. If we will be removed from this place and denied our way of living, what will happen to our children,” Sebastian said.

Earlier, Joseph Estadilla, north district superintendent of United Methodist Bulacan who is also the spokesman of Alyansa para sa Pagtatanggol ng Kabuhayan, Paninirahan at Kalikasan sa Manila Bay (AKAP KA-Manila Bay) called on the officials of Bulakan town to conduct a thorough study on how the unsolicited proposal of San Miguel Corp. to build an international airport will impact the local population. This, after the Investment Coordination Committee of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) recently approved the proposal.

He said the Bulacan local government must consider first the circumstances of the project that could adversely affect the livelihood of small fishermen particularly those in Barangay Taliptip where the 3,000 hectares will be covered with landfill on which to build the proposed airport.

“It is no joke to turn 3,000 hectares of fishponds into land for an airport and it it certainly not a small matter to disregard the welfare of small constituents who will be affected by the project,” Estadilla said.

Citizens and fisherfolk of Barangay Taliptip expressed their opposition to the propossed airport refuting an earlier article that came out in a broadsheet (not The Manila Times) that the association of fishermen in the Bulacan town will not oppose the 700-billion peso project.

According to Taliptip Kagawad Roberto Bauza, chairman of the committee on barangay agriculture and fisheries, they will fight to the death for their rights and continue opposing the construction of the airport in their village.

“It is very obvious that they are conditioning the minds of the people through the published article which says that we in the council have consented to the proposed project, misinformation that has elicited a negative reaction from the people in this place,” Bauza said.

But the people in the village said they were not consulted on the matter and there has been no information given in connection with the imminent demolition of the fishponds once the project starts.

Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado of Bulacan’s first district said qqproponents of the airport project must explain all its aspects well and give the assurance that the source of living of the Bulakenyo fishermen will be protected.

Alvarado said that the local government must prioritize these small fishermen so that in the event the project pushes through, they will be given a source of living through the multi-billion airport project.

Right now, fishermen are worried about the damming of the sea once construction of the airport starts because the flow of water from the mountains will be blocked causing the village and neighboring towns to be inundated and buried in the deluge.

Bulakan Mayor Patrick Meneses said that the concern of the fishermen in his town is being considered by the local government.

Meneses added that they dont have to worry because the issue about the project is only a proposal and just being tackled at the national level and not yet been brought to the local government particularly in their municipality.

Reliable sources said that target completion of the airport is in 2022. –ELOISA SILVERIO