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Fishers group to DA chief: Withdraw family’s reclamation project in Manila Bay

MANILA, Philippines – On World Fisheries Day on Tuesday, November 21, fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) called on Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. to withdraw the reclamation project of his family’s company Frabelle Fishing Corporation.

“We urge Agriculture Secretary Tiu Laurel Jr. to withdraw Frabelle’s reclamation project in Manila Bay because of its adverse impacts to fishing communities and fishing waters,” said Ronnel Arambulo, Pamalakaya’s vice chairperson.

“Since the project officially started in 2020, fishers [experienced] a significant loss of income.”

Bacoor in Cavite province is an area of major reclamation projects. There’s the Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project (BRDP) covering a total of 320 hectares of which Frabelle Fishing Corporation was the proponent, and the100-hectare Diamond Reclamation and Development Project by Diamond Export Corporation.

These projects aim to add more open spaces to Bacoor City, which can be used to put up a commercial business district and other development ventures on the reclaimed land. 

Tiu Laurel was president of Frabelle and chairman of Diamond Export Corporation before he was appointed as the new DA chief early November. Malacañang said Tiu Laurel has since divested his interests from private companies in light of his appointment.

But divestment doesn’t mean Tiu Laurel can no longer influence his family’s decisions, said Pamalakaya.

“He might have personally divested from Frabelle Fishing Corporation but that doesn’t mean that he completely lost influence over his family-owned business,” Arambulo said.

Frabelle Fishing Corporation is a family-run company founded by the DA chief’s parents back in 1966. It has since expanded its operations and is now one of the major seafood companies in the Philippines.

Dredging for the BRDP started after environmental compliance certificates were secured from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 2020. The local government of Bacoor is eyeing an additional P1.8 billion in annual revenue from the developments in the reclaimed land.

Rappler has asked for Tiu