BUHAY Partylist Rep. and Senior Deputy Minority Leader Lito Atienza welcomes the plan of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol to revive and restock Laguna De Bay and other water bodies with indigenous and commercially viable fish species.
“We totally agree with and support Secretary Piñol’s plan to rehabilitate and revitalize our country’s water bodies starting with Laguna Lake. The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) are both on the right track in their efforts. We believe this initiative will greatly benefit our fisherfolk, who have been marginalized by influential businessmen whose fishpens and fish cages have occupied and continue to pollute almost 90 percent of our water bodies,” Atienza said.
As former environment secretary, Atienza, had consistently spearheaded efforts to clean the waterways especially in Laguna Lake, Taal Lake and Manila Bay, and fought for the removal of all fishpens and fish cages.
“During our time as DENR secretary, our efforts to clear Laguna Lake and other water bodies of fishpens were met with resistance from no less than the DA and BFAR, which wrongly cited what they claimed as adverse effects that such moves would have on food production. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. It is the other way around. Food production would be enhanced, our fisherfolk would be given sustainable livelihood and our water bodies will be restored to their natural state. The only ones benefiting from these fishpens were the influential businessmen, while our fisherfolk remain the poorest sector of society,” Atienza added.
Atienza also cited the initial efforts of the DENR, under former secretary Gina Lopez, to clear Laguna Lake of fishpens and fish cages.
“The DENR, under then-secretary Lopez, started clearing Laguna Lake of fishpens. But how could they succeed in doing so when they were doing it with their bare hands, removing them pole by pole? As we have pointed out, at that rate, it would have taken government 50 years to clear the lake—big joke. If Secretary Piñol and newly-appointed DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu work together, learn from this experience and embark on a massive, honest to goodness, mechanized removal of all these obstructions, they can count on our full support,” Atienza stressed.