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Groups doubt benefits coastal folk can gain on Bulacan airport

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CITY OF MALOLOS, Bulacan — Cause-oriented groups in Bulacan have raised their doubts on the imminent construction of an international airport in Bulacan town.

The doubts were raised after the Department of Transportation (DOTR) announced on Wednesday that the construction of the said airport may commence before the year ends.

The DOTr said in a statement that there were no rivals to the challenge the original proponent– San Miguel Corp– for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the international airport.

The groups questioned the local conglomerate’s sincerity to development despite the promise of jobs and livelihood opportunities, environmental balance and aid in disaster resiliency.

Fr. Anacleto Ignacio, a catholic priest, and Bayan-Bulacan spokesperson asked “What ‘huge, ready market’ for the fisherfolk communities will there be if the very source of the people’s livelihoods among the mangroves and fishing grounds will be directly destroyed?”

Ignacio, widely known as Fr. Ety, told RONDA Balita Online News in a text message “Ang pagbibigay ng basbas ng gubyernong Duterte sa proyektong pagtatayo ng paliparan ng kumpanyang San Miguel ay pagtalikod ng gubyerno sa kanyang tungkuling magbigay ng serbisyo at ipinapasa ang tungkuling ito sa kamay ng mga malalaking negosyante na ang pangunahing layunin ay tumubo.”

The priest added that the welfare of the residents in the area will surely be compromised in exchange for the big profit in the said project.

Experience dictates that public services at the hands of big-time companies eventually result to more sacrifices for the masses because the businessmen will be going after the profits based on what they have observed on what happened when the basic necessities like food, water, electricity, oil, road constructions, and transportations were privatized, Fr. Ety noted.

On the other hand, the fisherfolk group of Pamalakaya-Bulacan said in a statement that residents in the coastal towns of Bulacan should “braced themselves against looming destruction in their shelter, livelihood, and environment, and called out the seeming neglect of the government to their welfare.”

Virgilio del Rosario, Pamalakaya-Bulacan spokesperson said: “San Miguel’s win in the Swiss Challenge was given to them in a silver platter, while our welfare was gambled by the government.”.

“We, fisherfolks, are not against development when it emboldens our livelihood and dignity. We do not want airplanes flying above us and skyscrapers tallying over us when we are caught up in displacement and precariousness in livelihood,” del Rosario added.

Earlier, Fr. Mark Vincent Santiago, parish priest of the Aglipayan Church in Barangay Binuangan in the coastal town of Obando explained to RONDA Balita Online News that they do not question the progress that their community is facing, particularly with the proposed construction of an international airport in the coastal areas of Bulakan and Obando towns.

He pointed out that if ever, coastal villagers of Binuangan and nearby communities are to be relocated, the proponents of the airport project should consider that these folk are fishermen and should be relocated to a place that is suitable for livelihood opportunities that they are accustomed to.

The possible relocatees should be transferred where their livelihoods are applicable to the places where they are to be transferred, the Aglipayan priest noted.

On the other hand, Lia Alonzo, program coordinator for the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC)-Philippines, explained that coastal communities are vulnerable to climate change thus they are calling for the protections on the coastal ecosystems like the mangrove forest cover, seagrass, and corals.

She added that these coastal ecosystems are the natural barriers against strong waves and floods and the primary source for food and livelihoods on those living in the coastal communities. (RONDA Balita Online News)

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RAMON EFREN R. LAZARO of Bocaue, Bulacan was a former anchor and marketing director of Radyo Bulacan -- Ang Radyo ng Bawat Bulakenyo . He was also a former reporter of CLTV36 and Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society Inc.. Graduated in Gregorio Araneta University Foundation in BS Agriculture and studied at Mapua Institute of Technology. He is presently a correspondent in Philippine Star and contributor at Mabuhay Newspaper in Bulacan. Currently the President of Philippines Science Journalist - Bulacan Chapter

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