Fisherfolk want businessmen out of Laguna lake rehabilitation

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THE militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) told the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) on Thursday to stop meddling in the Laguna de Bay master plan and the rehabilitation of the lake located in the town of Bay in Laguna province, south of Manila.

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Laguna is Spanish for lake.

The PCCI, the country’s largest business group, has expressed its support to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) order to dismantle fishpens in the 90-thousand hectare brackish lake, saying they could help transform the country’s largest lake into an eco-tourism and business hub.

Dismantling of the fishpens will commence this year.

The fisherfolk group, however, cast doubt on the business group’s intention.

“Thanks but no thanks to these businessmen. Laguna de Bay fishers and settlers don’t need their backing. The PCCI has nothing to do with the master plan and development of Laguna de Bay for no less than the municipal fishermen and settlers who are the user-managers of the lake are the ones who know and are capable to revive the dying lake. It’s the past administrations’ projects and programs that [push]the lake [to the]dying stage in the first place,” Fernando Hicap, the group’s chairman, said in a statement.

Hicap’s group disputed the PCCI’s statement that domestic waste is the primary reason behind Laguna de Bay pollution, saying industrial, commercial and government projects through widespread reclamation activities are the overall culprits behind the destruction of the lake.

Pamalakaya said thousands of factories and commercial establishments situated along the lake have been irreverently dumping their garbage into Laguna de Bay for years now.

Meanwhile, rampant reclamation activities in several parts of Laguna de Bay have aggravated the worsening condition of the lake.

“Blaming the residents as the main factor behind Laguna de Bay pollution might lead to their displacement in the guise of preserving the lake. We fear that letting this group of businessmen intrude into Laguna de Bay affairs would lead to total conversion of our productive fishing zone into their money-making ventures that could also put the lake at its final death bed,” Hicap said.

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