BUHAY Partylist Representative and Senior Deputy Minority Leader Lito Atienza welcomed and expressed full support for President Duterte’s directive to dismantle the fishpens and illegal structures in Laguna de Bay.
He said President Rodrigo Duterte must have fully accepted the fact that these fishpens not only deprive the small fisherfolk of their livelihood but cause massive flooding in Metro Manila and Southern Tagalog, preventing the bay from serving as a catch basin of rain water.
Atienza, as former Environment Secretary, has started clearing not only Laguna de Bay, but also other waterbodies such as Manila Bay. But his limited tenure failed him to finish the job. As congressman since 2013, Atienza continued to call attention to the problem but apparently ignored by the previous administration.
“The country is blessed with more than 200 lakes spread all over the islands which are home to some of the rarest species of fish and some of which are endemic only to the Philippines. If properly managed, our water and aquatic resources could even feed the whole world with quality sealife, according to the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) studies. It is ironic, therefore, that these natural gifts have not benefited our people even making the fisherfolk the poorest sector in society,” Atienza said during his privilege speech.
Atienza also pointed out that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Laguna Lake Development Authority are not giving an accurate picture of the problem. According to their records, only 12,000 hectares of Laguna de Bay are occupied by fishpens – which is about 12 percent of the Lake’s total area of 99,000 hectares.
“The truth is, one quick pass over the Lake will give a clear picture – over 60 percent is occupied by fishpens, leaving only a fraction of open water for thousands of fisherfolk,” Atienza added.