Thursday, July 24, 2008 [ manilatimes.net ]
By Ira Karen Apanay, Reporter
Manda belies Environment Secretary’s claim that LGUs support the agency’s efforts to clear the Laguna Lake
LAGUNA Lake Development Authority (LLDA) General Manager Edgardo Manda on Wednesday said political pressures hamper the demolition of illegal fish pens and fish cages in Laguna Bay.
“We get tremendous political pressure, local politicians telling me to go slow with the demolition for their constituents,” Manda said.
Manda also belied Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza’s claim that the local government units within the Laguna Bay support the demolition of the illegal fish pens.
He said that it is easy to say that the local government units (LGUs) support the demolition but the reality is that these politicians keep asking him to slow down with the demolition because they are protecting their constituents.
Manda said actual inventory of fish pens and fish cages (legal and illegal) in the Bay have reached 20,000 hectares.
He said the surface of the lake is 90,000 hectares and under the fishery zoning and management plan (ZOMAP), which the LLDA developed for Laguna Lake in 1983, there are only 10,000 hectares allocated for the fish pen belt; and 5,000 for the fish cage belt.
The ZOMAP was designed to rationalize the management and regulate the use of the lake’s fishery resources, and to resolve equity problems among large-scale fish pen operators and small-scale fishermen dependent on water reach.
Manda said that the LLDA will continue to demolish again on July 31 and August 1 and will start to demolish illegal fish pens within the navigational lanes.
Navigational lanes and barangay access lanes were also identified to facilitate the movement of people, goods and services within the lake.
He further said that the agency spends at least P30,000 per day for demolition and that President Gloria Arroyo gave the LLDA an initial funding of P3 million. However, Manda said the LLDA needs P50 million to finish the demolition.
Manda vows to demolish at least half of the illegal fish pens by the end of the year. “If I can’t do this by end of the year, I have to resign,” he added.
He explained that small fish pens in the bay range from size of 200 to 500 square meters while the big fish pens are about 50 hectares each. The agency must demolish almost 10,000 hectares of illegal fish pens in the area.
Laguna Lake is the largest lake in the Philippines and the second largest inland freshwater lake in Southeast Asia after Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia. It is the most vital inland water body in the country and used to be regarded as among the world’s living lakes.
If no appropriate and immediate mitigation and rescue will be implemented, government officials and environmentalists have predicted that Laguna Lake will be biologically dead in five years.