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Sicogon Island Tourism Estate, Philippines

In the chaotic aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda authorities failed to protect residents of Sicogon from land-grabbing. Developers seized upon the opportunity to develop the island for tourism. The first phase includes an airport and beachfront accommodation.


When Typhoon Yolanda, also known as Haiyan, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, hit Southeast Asia in November 2013, the Philippines was particular badly affected. The island of Sicogon was left in a dire state; the homes, livelihoods and fishing craft of 6,000 residents were devastated. Five months later members of the Federation of Sicogon Island Farmers and Fisherfolk (FESIFFA), along with the Save Agrarian Reform Alliance (SARA) network of national farmers’ organizations and non-government organizations, reported that not a single government agency had assisted residents in their efforts to reconstruct their homes and rebuild their lives.[1] International  organizations, such as ICCO Cooperation, a Netherlands based NGO, provided support for FESIFFA members’ attempts to rebuild their livelihoods.[2]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Sicogon Island Tourism Estate, Philippines
State or province:Iloilo Province
Location of conflict:Carles
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Tourism Recreation
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Ports and airport projects
Land acquisition conflicts
Aquaculture and fisheries
Specific commodities:Land
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Joint venture partners Sicogon Island Development Corporation (SIDECO) and Ayala Land Inc. have allocated an initial investment of PhP 1 billion (USD 18,575,000) for development of tourism-oriented commercial and residential establishments on Sicogon island, along with an integrated transport system. The first phase of Sicogon Island Tourism Estate development includes an airport with a 1.3 kilometer runway and a jetty port.[10] The airport sites on 22 hectares of public land.[7] Plans for accommodation include a bed and breakfast, a low budget hostel and a 50-room boutique hotel with direct access to Sicogon’s 5 kilometer coastline. Plans for the tourism estate also include a resort-town center with shops surrounding a 4.3 hectare lagoon.[10]

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Project area:809 hectares
Level of Investment for the conflictive project18,575,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:6,000
Start of the conflict:27/11/2013
Company names or state enterprises:Ayala Land (ALI) from Philippines - partner
AirSWIFT from Philippines - Operating flights between Sicogon and Manila opon re-openimg of Sicogon Airport in October 2018
Sicogon Island Tourism Estate Corp (SITE Corp) from Philippines
Sicogon Island Development Corp. (SIDECO) from Philippines - partner, landowner
Relevant government actors:Government of the Philippines
Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Province of Iloilo)
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 6, Iloio City
Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)
National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Federation of Sicogon Island Farmers and Fisherfolk Association (FESIFFA)
Save Agrarian Reform Alliance (SARA)
IBON Foundation -
FIAN Philippines -
National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) -
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) -
ICCO Cooperation -
Focus on the Global South -
Rural Poor Institute for Land and Human Rights Services -
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Other socio-economic impactsLoss of access to fishing grounds, impacting on livelihoods
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Under negotiation
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:By means of campaigning, protest and negotiation many Sicogon residents remain on the island and continue to fight for their rights to land and livelihoods. But they still face pressure to leave to make way for construction of Sicogon Island Tourism Estate on 809 hectares, about 70 per cent of the island. Construction of tourism projects on 333.4 hectares of land was stopped by a Cease-and-Desist Order In March 2019, but may recommence.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Al Jazeera documentary: Philippines: Disaster Capitalism, Inc. In one of the world's most disaster-prone nations are Filipino tycoons exploiting those caught in typhoons?
[click to view]

Maria Angelina M. Uson, Land grabs, climate change, and disasters: exploring the politics of their intersection in a Philippine small island, Conference Paper No. 11, Land grabbing, conflict and agrarian-environmental transformations: perspectives from East and Southeast Asia, 5-6 June 2015, Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development, Chiang Mai University
[click to view]

[1] Yolanda-displaced Families in Philippines Forced to Occupy Forests, Harassed by Land Developers, Focus on the Global South, 12 April 2014
[click to view]

[2] Advancing Justice After Climate Disaster in the Philippines, Focus on the Global South, 30 June 2017
[click to view]

[3] Parallel Report: On the Occasion of the Review of the Philippines Combined 5th and 6th Periodic Reports to the UN CESCR at the 59th Session, FIAN International and FIAN Philippines, September 2016
[click to view]

[4] NASSA exec shocked over ‘disaster capitalism’ in Yolanda-hit areas, CBCP News, 18 December 2014
[click to view]

[5] Typhoons and Tycoons: Disaster capitalism in the Philippines, Al Jazeera, 16 August 2018
[click to view]

[6] PAIN & FEAR: Yolanda survivors in Sicogon face threats, The Daily Guardian, 27 November 2013
[click to view]

[10] Ayala Land allots P1 billion for initial development of Sicogon Island in Iloilo, Business Mirror, 15 June 2017
[click to view]

[11] N. Iloilo resort island’s airport to reopen, Manila Bulletin, 27 August 2018
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[8] Petition - Philippines: Stop Ayala’s monster tourism on Sicogon Island!
[click to view]

Sicogon Exposed - Twitter
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update08/01/2019
Conflict ID:3706
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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