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PACJA Stands in Solidarity with Rural Communities in the Philippines

Barangay Taliptip, (Province of Bulacan, Philippines)

On September 17th 2019, PACJA was part of a group that visited a community in Barangay Taliptip in the province of Bulacan in the Philippines. The group consisted of people from different countries in different continents and organisations around the word.
The boat journey to the community took us roughly 2 hours from the peripheries of the city of Manila.

The Taliptip was once a very vibrant salt farming community, but due to several harsh typhoons that wiped out their salt farms, the people were compelled to adopt fishing as an economic activity.

Pacja visits Manila community in climate frontline

As if being victims of climate change is not enough, the Philippines government and San Miguel Company, a leading corporate in the country, have now colluded to grab huge chunks of Barangay Taliptip land to construct a state-of-the-art international airport.

San Miguel Corporation’s private, unsolicited New Manila International Airport (NMIA), also referred to as Bulacan International Airport, is a P735-billion investment meant to contribute to resolving the country’s transportation woes.

The conglomerate claimed that it would serve 150 million passengers a year compared to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s capacity of 40 million passengers a year. The airport city project dubbed “Aerotropolis” is expected to cover more than 2,500 hectares of reclaimed land in two coastal Barangays in Bulacan, with 1,168 hectares intended for the airport itself.

Bulacan is one of the key biodiverse provinces in the country. This proposed “land development” project will directly displace 700 fishing communities and coastal families in 7 villages. The reclamation project will clear 657 mangrove trees, and 24 hectares of fishing reservation. This will negatively impact on the lives and livelihood of the community that heavily relies on fishing. This project also means loss of the traditional fish species and fish catch of small fisher folk in the province.

This Philippines government project will destroy an already existing protective barrier against flooding. Should they succeed in putting up this aerotropolis, it will expose the area and its nearby cities to possible black sand mining, excavating, and further destruction which could lead to potential disasters such as flooding and soil erosion.

The communities we met are extremely worried. The government is not even talking to them about compensation of possible reallocation. With support of Filipino partners of Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, the communities have organised themselves into associations, led by very strong women, to engage their local administration on the possible eviction. However, their efforts have been rebuffed by their local administration that has refused to give them a listening ear.

Their youth have no future since they cannot access good schools. Schools are far away and require children to combine boat rides and long treks to school every day. These journeys are expensive and exhausting to children. Most of them drop of from school and join their elders in small scale fishing enterprises.

When I asked them if they have any representation in the national assembly/congress, most of them responded that they had never met their congressman. They normally vote for people they have never met. The politicians send campaigners to communities during campaign period. Although most communities in Africa face the same predicaments of land garbs and evictions, at least we know how representatives in the national assembly or the senate who can choose to or not to listen to our grievances. In Kenya, for instance, the system of devolution has somewhat tried to bring representation and resources to the local level, allowing communities to air their views and have their voice heard from time to time. This may sound a luxury and farfetched to communities in the Bulacan Province of the Philippines. But it is achievable.

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and partners stand in solidarity with the communities of Barangay Taliptip during this period of Climate Strike. During the UN Secretary General Climate Summit (September 23rd) and the People’s Assembly (September 24th &25th) PACJA and global partners such the Global Call Against Poverty (GCAP) must bring the voices of many grassroots communities such as the Barangay Taliptip to the fore front of climate justice discussions and create the visibility of the sufferings and injustices that these communities are subjected to.

Salina Sanou,
Head of Programmes, PACJA

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Pacja visits Manila community in climate frontline

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