fisherfolk in the Philippines

Fisherfolk group asks court to stop Navotas City mussel farms demolition

Iya Gozum

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Fisherfolk group asks court to stop Navotas City mussel farms demolition

PROTEST. Members of fisherfolk group Pamalakaya protest the demolition of mussel farms and reclamation in Manila Bay, outside the Navotas Regional Trial Court on Friday, June 14, 2024.

Pamalakaya

'The LGU must adhere to proper procedures and protect the livelihoods that have sustained Navotas for generations, This is a fight for justice and the preservation of a community’s way of life,' Pamalakaya-Navotas says in its petition

MANILA, Philippines – A fisherfolk group on Friday, June 14, asked the Navotas Regional Trial Court to stop what they called the “unlawful” demolition of over six kilometers of mussel farms in Navotas City.

Pamalakaya-Navotas filed a petition for prohibition and mandamus (with an application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and status quo ante order and/or writ of preliminary injunction) before the regional trial court against Navotas City Mayor John Rey Tiangco, Vice Mayor Tito Sanchez, acting city agriculturist Cheney Ville Gabriel, and Roberto Pascual of the City Business Permits and Licensing Office.

“We urgently call for a halt of these unlawful demolitions in light of these injustices. The LGU must adhere to proper procedures and protect the livelihoods that have sustained Navotas for generations, This is a fight for justice and the preservation of a community’s way of life,” Pamalakaya-Navotas said in their petition.

“Moreover, we assert that what the fisherfolk truly need is a genuine rehabilitation that restores the former vitality of Manila Bay, not projects the destroy livelihoods of thousands and harm the environment,” they added.

The group also asked the court to compel the Navotas government to restore the demolished farms to their original condition.

The petitioners said that they are seeking the writ of prohibition and mandamus “on the ground that the respondents committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction” when the city government, through its agriculture office, sent out the notices on the mussels farm demolition on March 31 and May 9, 2023, and on February 24, 2024.

The Navotas City government anchored these actions on the 2008 Supreme Court mandamus order “to clean up, and rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay.”

“Despite fishers’ willingness to comply with regulations, the LGU continues to deny renewal permits and wrongly categorize these productive fishing enterprises as unlawful,” the petitioners said.

“The LGU’s misapplication of the Supreme Court’s 2008 Continuing Mandamus to justify these demolitions is a gross distortion. The Mandamus was never intended to dismantle fish farms that significantly contribute to marine productivity and national food security,” they added.

The petitioners said the mussel farms were demolished despite their repeated appeals for dialogues with the city government. As a result, they said, about 1,000 mussel farms had been “illegally” destroyed.

“This blatant massacre of livelihoods being carried out by the Navotas LGU is utterly unacceptable,” Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap said in a statement.

In their petition, Pamalakaya-Navotas also said that there have been suspicions that the demolition is “linked to the 650-hectare reclamation project” and that the allegations were fueled by “reports of compensation offers from San Miguel Corporation to mussel farmers in 2022.”

The 650-hectare reclamation in question is for the Navotas Coastal Bay Reclamation Project. This is a joint venture project of Navotas with Argonbay Construction Company, Incorporated, a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. suspended reclamation projects in Manila Bay last year, as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources leads an assessment of the impact of reclamations on the ecosystem of the area. – Rappler.com

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Iya Gozum

Iya Gozum covers the environment, agriculture, and science beats for Rappler.