Development for Whom? How Navotas fisherfolk resist the displacement of their people and livelihood: Page 4 of 7
park. [xvii] Tangos is currently government-owned land, meaning the fisherfolk and other communities living there do not have to pay rent. It also means that those with land deeds are forced to vacate the land because the reclamation is government-sponsored. These fisherfolk are uprooted from their homes and livelihoods without any potential economic means or support to move, all for the sake of profitable real estate.
Underlying Factors: Issues of Development
Photo courtesy of Michelle Gan, 2017.
While the reclamation of Manila Bay requires government approval, corporations and investors interested in investing in Manila Bay real estate carry out the actual project. One developer in particular, Manila Gold Coast Corporation, has been driving development in Manila Bay. After seeking approval for the reclamation projects since the early 1990s, Manila Gold Coast finally succeeded in 2011. [xviii] This corporation and its shareholders have connections to different multinational corporations centered around infrastructure development and to foreign investors, as well as involvements in real estate development projects that are on former US military bases. [xix] It seems like these types of developers and partnerships between the government and private firms are geared towards a vision of development for the Philippines that does not actually include the people or local communities most affected.
As a member of the WTO, the Philippines has agreed to allow development projects like these to be funded by foreign investors with up to 40% equity. [xx] WTO membership requires the Philippines to accept certain conditions that allow for less oversight of corporate projects and an opening up of their economy to foreign investors. Opening up the economy means that the Philippines can no longer favor local investors or corporations, making it easier for foreign firms to invest. WTO membership and its conditions can lead to free trade deals and other similar agreements that are made between countries and firms without giving the people, especially marginalized communities in developing countries, a seat at the table. [xxi] It allows for projects like the reclamation project to proceed without any community consultation. Reclamation projects like the one in Navotas raise important questions about how policy, particularly in trade and investment in developing countries, and development projects should require the inclusion of voices of the people in decision-making. Without an opportunity to influence policies that affect them, the communities will always hotly contest these deals, agreements, and projects.
The Resistance of Barangay Tangos
Despite Navotas government attempts to displace Tangos residents, the local fisherfolk community has organized to resist these efforts as well as fight for their right to a livelihood through fishing. These small fisherfolk work through organizations like Pamalakaya, the National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organizations in the Philippines. Founded in 1987, Pamalakaya is an alliance of activist fisherfolk groups in the country with over 100,000 individual members and 43 provincial chapters. Pamalakaya is also a member of the largest international organization of small fisherfolk, the World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP), and the International Fisherfolk and Fishworkers’ Coalition. Pamalakaya engages in protests on the local and national level, by utilizing tactics such