BUHAY party-list Rep. Lito Atienza has urged the government and other stakeholders to save the country’s water resources, as called for measures to stop pollution in water bodies such as Laguna Lake and Manila Bay.
In a privilege speech last Monday, Atienza pointed out that while many countries are experiencing water shortages and lack of potable drinking water, the country has not utilized and taken advantage of its rich supply of fresh water.
“ Our country has been blessed with an abundance of water. We have at least 470 billion cubic meters of water a year not being utilized wisely. Of this, only an estimated 17 percent are being used. A lot goes to wastage and pollution,” Atienza said.
“Practically all our country’s water bodies are degraded due to the continued proliferation and existence of illegal fish pens and fish cages, as well as industrial and household waste—foremost of which are the Laguna de Bay and Manila Bay,” he added.
Atienza said Buhay party-list fully supports the initiative of President Rodrigo Duterte to clean Philippine water bodies and remove all fish pens and fish cages.
“Almost all our water bodies have continued to deteriorate through decades of abuse and misuse. The Laguna de Bay is one such body of water that has deteriorated because of the proliferation of fish pens owned by big businessmen and even foreigners. Because of this, ordinary fisherfolk are deprived of their livelihood and it is not surprising that they now comprise the poorest sector,” he noted.
Atienza, a former Environment secretary, had spearheaded efforts to clean the country’s water bodies and fought for the removal of all illegal fish pens and fish cages.
“It has always been our advocacy to clean all our water bodies such as Laguna de Bay, Lake Sebu, Lake Buhi, Lake Lanao and Taal Lake, all of which have suffered continued degradation. Out of the country’s 664 fresh water rivers, 40 rivers have been declared clinically dead and majority are dying from a deadly combination of industrial pollution and untreated household waste with Laguna de Bay being one of them,” he said.
Atienza urged his colleagues and local governments to support his bill requiring all homes and business establishments to have their own rainwater catchment facilities.
“Our country is blessed with continuous rainfall but it is not gathered and collected. Let’s attend to this problem now while there is still time, so that the next generations of Filipinos will benefit from our efforts,” he said.