Protesters demand accountability of Dutch company for environmental damages

This article is available in Pilipino

Environmental groups, scientists, fishermen and residents along the shores of Manila Bay protested in front of the embassy of The Netherlands yesterday, March 22, to condemn Boskalis Westminster NV, a Dutch company, for the damage it caused due to dredging for the reclamation project in 2021-2023. A similar protest was held in Papendrect, The Netherlands, where the main office of Boskalis is located.

Rallyists under the Defend Manila Bay coalition gathered to demand accountability not only from Boskalis but also the government of The Netherlands for their role in the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) project of San Miguel Corporation in Bulacan. The company rammed the destructive project using intimidation tactics, complicit with the reactionary military, rallyists said.

“The company Boskalis Westminster NV made huge profits from the planned mega-airport in the Philippines which caused harm to local fishermen, to the ocean and coastal environment,” said Jonila Castro, official of the Kalikasan People’s Network for environmental advocacy related to reclamation and water.

The groups stressed the SMC’s disregard of studies showing the damages the airport would cause. They said it was company abuse to use the military to evict residents from the areas covered by the project.

“Although the dredging of Boskalis is complete, the damage it caused to our fisheries is ongoing and long-term,” according to the Pamalakaya group. “We feel this especially when strong winds blow spreading the residue of dredging waste to the sea making the water murky and causing a decline in fish.”

As a result, the catch of fishermen has gone down, not only in Bulacan but also in Cavite.

“It was not enough that they simply stopped operations and wantonly left the sea after destroying and profitting from it,” the group says. “Long-term accountability is needed in the form of compensation to fishermen and rehabilitation of damaged seas.”

In addition to Boskalis, the rallyists also charged Atradius DSB, a credit agency, which financed 1.5 billion euros for Boskalis’ operation.

“Atradius DSB and The Netherlands finance secretary, Marnix van Rij, approved the application (of Boskalis) despite opposition to the project by local communities and other groups both in The Netherlands and the Philippines,” according to Castro.

The groups denounced Dutch companies for their involvement in reclamation while they joined and even funded the program to make Manila Bay sustainable.

AB: Protesters demand accountability of Dutch company for environmental damages