MASANTOL -- An executive from the local government here lashed Friday at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for their alleged “real objective” over the continuous demolition of dozens of fishpens in Masantol town despite the strong opposition of the public.
Vice Mayor Ralph Nulud criticized the personnel of the DPWH for reportedly “using” the Supreme Court mandamus, which is said to be the basis of the project implementation in their own favor.
Nulud said that the government agency has been using the judicial writ to justify the purpose of their project without explaining to residents and the whole community its effects.
"It's very frustrating when one agency hides their intention under the cloak of law! Ing Supreme court Mandamus lagi nang sasangkan ning DPWH, at bala gagawan danala mupung mangmang ding tau king danuman. Makalunus la rugu bala mu itik la a padurut durut kakalakad para asalba de ing lugar da (The DPWH has been using the Supreme Court Mandamus and they seem to treat coastal residents as ignorant. The residents look like ducks walking in circles and exerting all their efforts just to save their communities]," he said.
The vice mayor asked the DPWH to point at the exact provision of the mandamus where they base their whole project.
He cited a portion of the court order saying, "the DPWH, as the principal implementor of programs and projects for flood control services in the rest of the country more particularly in Bulacan, Bataan, Pampanga, Cavite, and Laguna, in coordination with the DILG, affected LGUs, PNP Maritime Group, HUDCC, and other concerned government agencies, shall remove and demolish all structures, constructions, and other encroachments built in breach of RA (Republic Act) 7279 and other applicable laws."
"Kung iyan po ang basehan nila, it clearly says there na kung may paglabag sa RA 7279 o HUDCC [Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council], merong obligation ang national government na ilipat ka with due process at mabigyan ka sa housing program," he said.
Under RA 7279 or the Lina Law, illegal settlers who are occupying government land must be given relocation or else, the local government should give them the equivalent of 60 days in daily wage.
However, Nulud alleged that the DPWH has not discussed anything of that matter yet to the residents, especially to those who will not only lose their houses, but their whole community.
"Vague o malabo at paiba-iba ang reason ng DPWH. Sinasabi nila breach of contract daw yung sa mga fishponds, dahil mas mataas ang level ng pilapil sa pinag-usapan. Even assuming it is true, there should be due process like informing the tenant through writing so that they could rectify the situation. Usually three notices yan. Were they notified?" he lamented.
Nulud also expressed doubt over the claims of the DPWH that the project will serve as one of the massive flood-control programs set in the province.
"Di ba ang babaw na ng ilog, kung flood control kasi dapat desilting ang ginagawa nila, palalimin ang ilog, para makalabas ang tubig agad going to Manila Bay, hindi yung palalawakin mo pero magiging mababaw kasi yung silt from fishponds kinalat mo lang sa ilog," the vice-mayor stressed.
He reiterated the concern of the local government and the nearly a dozen of villages which will be affected and the huge risk and danger the project may pose if it will be continuously implemented.
He stressed that the fishponds have been serving as first line of defense of the Pampanga Delta Dike from storm surges and its removal may affect the integrity of the whole structure.
He suggested that the DPWH could have constructed slope protections along the Pampanga Delta Dike to secure it from collapsing especially during the rainy season.
Nulud alleged that the based on the mandamus, the only mandate given to the DPWH is to remove the houses along the water channel which contributes to the pollution of Manila Bay, and not the fishpens which act as livelihood for thousands of residents here.
"It is appalling and disheartening using a cause of another for your own personal cause, even worse, putting people's lives in danger when the time comes," he lamented.
"It is clear as the blue sky that the DPWH might be the ones violating the very essence of the mandamus," he added.