Development for Whom? How Navotas fisherfolk resist the displacement of their people and livelihood: Page 5 of 7
as local community dialogues, direct actions addressed to local government and national agencies, dialogues with policymakers, and petition drives.
Leaders within local fisherfolks’ organizations in Tangos described how their community has organized to successfully apply pressure on government policies and corporate projects that threaten their livelihood. For example, the Tangos fisherfolk community managed to halt the ongoing construction of the NBBP’s wall a couple of kilometers from the coastline. The three-year long reclamation project was stopped and the wall left incomplete as a result of significant protests and organizing from local fisherfolks. They blocked construction and conducted dialogues with nongovernmental organizations and the National Bureau of Fisheries. Even as they lobbied the government, they recognized the need for other forms of resistance and that they could not wait for the government to make concessions without applying pressure. The wall’s presence has made it more dangerous for fisherfolk, amplifying the strength of the waves after they bounce back from the wall. One fisherman’s boat shattered after the waves pulled his boat towards the wall for a collision that ruined his ability to earn a living.
Currently, the local fisherfolks are organizing for a return to free and communal fishing. They reject laws like Republic Act 10654 that amended the Philippine Fisheries Code to prohibit fishing beyond 15 kilometers from the shoreline. One community leader specifically cited a recent July 4 dialogue with lawyers at the Bureau of Fisheries who maintained that they were only upholding the law that had been passed and had no power to change things. One chairman of a local fisherfolk organization said they need rallies to demonstrate the support of the people of the city. Specifically recognizing that even though a law has been passed, if it is unjust, then they needed to call for the repeal of such a law that further marginalizes local communities.
In fact, because the law is not on your side, one always has to be strategizing and organizing cross-sector alliances. In the case of small fisherfolk, their organizing has grown to include outreach to workers who will be affected by displacement, wealthier owners of trawls who also struggle because of increased regulations, and others whose lives are related to the struggles of small fisherfolk. They organized themselves into an alliance called Kontra Konversion Koalisyon Reclamation, or KKKR. Media has also served as a powerful tool to promote awareness of the issues they face and mobilize people to join.
Continuing the Fight For Manila Bay
Local laws like RA 10654 amended the 1998 Fisheries Code purportedly to protect the ocean and address the poverty of small fisherfolk. Yet, because lawmakers fail to consult the affected communities they claim to help, these laws do more harm than good. They restrict small fisherfolks’ ability to earn a sustainable livelihood, and point to the need for inclusive decision-making. Legislators approve reclamation projects and free trade agreements with other countries in the name of promoting economic growth for the Philippines. However, these laws have only increased the gap between the rich and the poor, demonstrating that all citizens do