LLDA, DENR Laguna Lake rehab plan a hypocritical solution – fisherfolk group
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Sunday dismissed the government’s rehabilitation plan in Laguna de Bay which is only to strictly implement sewage treatment facilities of thousands of industries situated along the lake.
In a hearing deliberation regarding Laguna Lake rehabilitation held in the House of Representatives last week, officials of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) claimed that among their long-term solution on the deteriorating Laguna de Bay is to strictly enforce the effluent standards for wastewater discharge, which means factories will still be able to discharge toxic chemical wastes into the lake as long as they comply with the policy.
For its part, PAMALAKAYA lambasted the LLDA, an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for overlooking on the real issue on why the Laguna de Bay has been deteriorating, saying any solution proposed by the LLDA and DENR would always remain futile if they fail to tackle the issue of the Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NHCS), a flood control structure located at Napindan Channel in Taguig, City.
Napindan Channel is the only outlet of the lake to Manila Bay, but since the construction of the NCHS, saltwater from Manila Bay has been blocked from entering the Laguna de Bay, causing the 90-thousand hectare brackish lake to gradually deteriorate.
“Saltwater is highly essential to Laguna de Bay because first and foremost, it is a brackish lake that is basically a mixture of freshwater and saltwater. So preventing the entry of saltwater into the lake effectively changes its ecological balance and poses adverse effects to its aquatic ecosystem. Concrete example on the negative impacts of the Napindan structure is the proliferation of invasive fish species in the lake such as the snake turtle, knife fish, and janitor fish; all of these impair the fishing activities of small-fisherfolk,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement, noting that around 20 fish species no longer exist in the lake since the construction of the NHCS in 1983.
The group said however strict the LLDA would impose the effluent standards, as long as thousands of small and big-time enterprises consistently use the water of Laguna de Bay for their cooling machines, the lake would still remain polluted as ever.
“We are unbent from our position that the real and comprehensive solution to rehabilitate the dying Laguna de Bay is to let saltwater mingle into its waters by permanently opening the Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure. We challenge both the DENR and LLDA, open the NHCS in a period of not less than 6 months and let them observe how the lake will return to its bountiful stage and traditional fish species live in prosper,” ended Hicap. ###