Ang Bayan
February 07, 2020

Aerotropolis project, a bane to fishermen and the people

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Amid intensifying rivalries among capitalists, Ramon Ang believes that the New Manila International Airport will benefit him. The project, which is commonly known as the Aerotopolis, is being developed by San Miguel Holdings Corporation (SMC) in a 2,500-hectare coastal area of Barangay Taliptip, Bulakan, Bulacan. Fishermen and residents of the area, however, see the project as a mere game of big businesses, where their livelihood, habitat and environmental preservation are at stake.

Approximately 700 families will lose their homes and livelihood with entry of the massive project in the area. In addition, intensifying land speculation and plans for land-use conversion in adjacent towns may result in the eviction of thousands of families.
According to the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM), approximately 24 hectares of fishing reservation areas will be wiped out due to massive reclamation. Since April 2018, about 600 mangroves in Barangay Taliptip have been cleared by suspected SMC personnel to pave way for the project. Majority of those cut were piapis, a resilient type of mangrove that serves as a natural habitat of fishes and barrier against massive waves.

Privatization of public fishing reservations

Due to the absence of genuine agrarian reform, those who rely on fishing reservations are exploited and evicted from reservation areas. The reactionary state also provides no subsidy to fishermen especially after calamities. This is why proprietors are unable to enhance their fish production and salt farms. Among those that will be wiped out by the Aerotopolis are fishing reservations and salt farms which were acquired by the SMC after being devastated by successive calamities. This has massacred the jobs of workers in the fishing sector, salt-producers and smallscale fishermen, and has simultaneously evicted them from the idle fishing reservation. This is being implemented along with the militarization in the area to suppresses the resistance of the residents.

The Aerotropolis project is being implemented in accordance with the design of Manila Bay Coastal Strategies, one of the major programs of the Greater Capital Region under the Duterte regime’s Build, Build, Build program. Duterte has controlled the reclamation across the country to pave way for the projects of his favored big capitalists. In Manila Bay, the massive reclamation is killing the livelihood of fishermen and others who rely on its resources.

Under the public-private-partnership (PPP) scheme, San Miguel Holdings Corp. will fund the construction of the P735-billion Aerotropolis project. After the construction, its operations will be transferred to the reactionary government, and the latter will be obligated to pay for the construction expenses at a highly usurious rate. Similar to other PPP projects, the Aerotropolis guarantees that Ramon Ang will rake in billions of profits. One of the components of the project is the construction of an expressway to link the airport and the North Luzon Expressway. This will pass through and wipe out farmlands in Marilao, Bulacan. Another component of the project is the Manila Integrated Flood Control and Coastal Defense Expressway Project of the San Miguel Holdings Corporation and the San Jose Builders. The program covers the entire Manila Bay from Navotas to Bataan.

AB (2020-02-07): Aerotropolis project, a bane to fishermen and the people