Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the dismantling of illegal structures at the Laguna Lake, particularly fish cages that affect the livelihood of small fishermen.
The 90-hectare lake supplies more than half of Metro Manila’s milk fish and tilapia requirements, but supply has been dwindling because of illegal fish pens.
In his speech at the environment summit in Davao City on Thursday, Duterte vowed to give priority to poor fishermen in the use of the Laguna de Bay.
He noted that small fishermen eking out a living at the lake are left with very little area to fish because most areas of the lake had been allocated for private fish pens owned by big corporations.
“The poor will be my priority. Wherever there is inequality, it will be resolved in favor of the poor as against the rich,” the President said.
Duterte directed Environment Secretary Regina Lopez and Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol to reduce the area occupied by retired generals and local officials.
“I told them dismantle all those things and give back Laguna de Bay to the poor fishermen of the country,” the President said.
As of June 30, 2016, there were 357 registered and unregistered fishpen owners operating at the Laguna de Bay, according to the Laguna Lake Development Authority.
In his first State of the Nation Address, Duterte said he plans to convert the Laguna de Bay into an eco-tourism zone.
“The Laguna Lake shall be transformed into a vibrant economic zone showcasing ecotourism by addressing the negative impact of the watershed destruction, land conversion and pollution,” he said.
“The poor fishermen will have priority in its entitlement,” the President added.