I worked in the Philippines from 2003 to the end of 2009 on an expat assignment for a multinational company. When came the time to retire, I decided to stay here and to create an NGO dedicated to the marine aquaculture of selected invertebrates. This is an alternative livelihood opportunity for the poor coastal populations, who still rely on destructive fishing methods like dynamite and cyanide. Instead of destroying their reefs, fishermen could develop a profitable, environment-friendly activity. As a start, we, as a family, have invested a lot of money in a property, buildings including laboratory, hatchery, workshop, housing,... Since the very beginning of this adventure, in 2010, and notwithstanding the fact that we presented our project to all involved government agencies, the support from the local authorities has been zero. The only time they showed up was to fine us because we started building the lab before securing the heavily bureaucratic "environment compliance certificate". The locals and squatters are allowed to do whatever they want and even build shanties and structures on the beach. We would get fined right away. There are two laws in the Philippines, one for the locals and one for the foreign investors. We have applied for a foreshore lease agreement in order to build our nursery tanks close to the seawater intake. Our application file was complete, we made a presentation of our project before the "Protected Area Management Bureau" of the Tanon Strait on November 5th. Since then, 7 months later, no progress! Bureaucracy at its worse! Developed countries, please stop wasting your money helping the Philippines. This country is doomed and run by a predatory oligarchy. Nepotism, corruption, violence, racism, you get it all. We have decided to pull the plug on our project, try to sell our assets here and run away as soon as we possibly can to a civilised country. What a shame!
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