Development for Whom? How Navotas fisherfolk resist the displacement of their people and livelihood: Page 3 of 7
it leaves the municipality vulnerable to government development projects that are focused on the bay as prime real estate. These so-called reclamation projects are, on paper, seen as pathways for Philippine economic success, and involve the construction of new malls and business parks as a means of invigorating the tourism industry and bringing more foreign investment. [xiii] In reality, these reclamation projects displace thousands of homes, families, and communities and increase the inequality between the Philippines’ rich and poor.
A reclamation project is a government-approved project that creates new land by dumping sand into different parts of Manila Bay, as a means of expanding the city to create new properties. [xiv] The Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) is the government agency responsible for approving these projects, having approved over 100 projects in the last 10 years. These projects are located mostly in Manila Bay, such as the construction of the Mall of Asia (MOA) in 2006. While many people perceive the MOA as a successful venture because of high revenue, few know about the 37,000 people displaced as a result of MOA. [xv] The main developer behind MOA, SM and its extremely wealthy owner, Henry Sy, did little to consult with affected communities, particularly fisherfolk. Not only were thousands of fisherfolk displaced from their homes, they were also displaced from their fishing grounds and the entire livelihood of the local community was negatively impacted by a project that was not meant for them. This disruption of people’s livelihoods begs the question of why these reclamation projects even exist, and who’s benefiting from them.
These reclamation projects affect all citizens of Manila for environmental and heritage reasons, but fisherfolk are some of the most disproportionately affected. The reclamation of land in Manila Bay displaces not only fishers, but also the fish themselves. In the case of MOA, not only were the fisherfolk displaced, but the fish they used to catch in Manila Bay have also been displaced. This loss of catch has been one of many examples of the environmental impact of reclamation projects, specifically the potential impact on marine life and on the ecological systems in Manila Bay. Thus, reclamation projects threaten fisherfolks’ livelihoods and homes.
In the years since MOA, the PRA has come out with the National Reclamation Plan, a list of eleven proposed reclamation projects in Manila Bay. The 650 hectares between the Navotas Fishing Port to Barangay Tangos that comprise the Navotas Boulevard Business Project (NBBP), or the North Bay Business Project, is one such project. [xvi] The NBBP currently possesses a significant detrimental impact to the Tangos community. This majority fishing community is not only expected to uproot themselves from their homes, but as the project is being constructed, they are physically blocked from fishing by the creation of a new wall on the shoreline. The people of Tangos were not consulted in the approval of this project, nor were environmentalists consulted on the effect on local marine life. This project will effectively displace 20,000 fisherfolk and more urban poor families from Navotas for a mall and business