APRIL 3, 2014 — The Inter-Church Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO) and Kerk and Actie thru the Rural Poor Institute for Land and Human Rights Services, Inc (RIGHTS, Inc.) initially awarded forty motorized fishing boats to farmers and fisher folks of Sicogon Island on March 28, 2014, as part of the said organizations’ effort to rehabilitate and restore Yolanda survivors’ means of livelihoods. A total of 75 boats and one cargo vessel would be distributed to benefit 600 fisher folk residents of Sicogon.
ICCO and Kerk and Actie/Act Alliance is a Dutch development agency which support partners in 44 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Rights Inc. (Rural Poor Institute for Land and Human Rights Services, Inc.), one of its partners in the Philippines, is a network of local non-government organizations (NGOs) in the Philippines engaged in community organizing and mass mobilizations for policy advocacy around agrarian, rural labor, and environmental justice issues.
RIGHTS Inc., together with its local network member PROGRESO-Panay, are helping the residents in Sicogon Island in reconstructing their lives and livelihoods through the distribution of fishing boats and gears. PROGRESO-Panay is also actively supporting the islanders’ land rights claim to secure their land tenure over the island’s agricultural areas. Aside from the displacement caused by Yolanda, Sicogon residents have been resisting pre-Yolanda man-made displacements triggered by the forcible eviction being initiated by the private claimant to give way to the plan to develop the island into an eco-tourism area. This eco-tourism project is being backed by one the most powerful real estate developers in the country.
Super Typhoon Yolanda aggravated the insecurity to land and livelihoods of survivors in Sicogon island. The 1,500 residents have not been allowed to rebuild their homes and are thus threatened by permanent displacement.
The project supported by ICCO is the first ever post-Yolanda livelihood rehabilitation ever received by Sicogon island residents. It has helped in sustaining the islanders claim over their land and coastal resources. Sicogon residents recently occupied the public forest area of the island to re-assert their land claim while their petition for the redistribution of private lands of the island is still being heard.
The rehabilitation project aims to immediately restore the sources of livelihoods of survivors by providing them the means to reinstate their farming and fishing activities. In December (2013) and January (2014), RIGHTS also distributed food packs to 3,750 families which include the Sicogon residents. RIGHTS with support of ICCO and Klerk and Actie will support a total of 700 fishing and farming families in restoring their livelihoods within the next few months.
There is still a very big demand for emergency and rehabilitation needs in these areas. The government has not been able to satisfy or respond to these needs. People of Sicogon in particular need the support of the national government in securing their land and water rights for the long term reconstruction of their livelihoods.