Le­garda pushes for dev’t of coastal ar­eas

Sun.Star Pampanga - - STORIES! -

CLARK

FREEPORT --Sen­a­tor Loren Le­garda has un­der­scored the im­por­tance of pro­tect­ing the coun­try’s 822 coastal towns and hav­ing a com­pre­hen­sive wa­ter re­source man­age­ment pro­gram.

Le­garda, Chair of the Se­nate Com­mit­tees on Fi­nance and Cli­mate Change, made the state­ment dur­ing the ple­nary de­bates on the pro­posed 2018 bud­get of the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources (DENR).

In re­sponse to a query on the ex­is­tence of a mas­ter plan for the sus­tain­able devel­op­ment of La­guna de Bay, Le­garda said that the DENR al­ready has one but it must be re­viewed to en­sure a holis­tic ap­proach in man­ag­ing the lake as well ad­dress­ing the needs of the af­fected pop­u­lace.

“We need to de­con­gest the sur­round­ings of the lake from in­for­mal set­tler fam­i­lies (ISF), es­pe­cially those in Lu­pang Arenda, which is an is­land of garbage turned into set­tle­ment. It is not even hab­it­able and the gov­ern­ment, es­pe­cially the

Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works and High­ways (DPWH) and Na­tional Hous­ing Author­ity (NHA), should move these fam­i­lies out of the area and find them a hu­mane com­mu­nity,” she stressed.

While the DENR has al­ready de­mol­ished 44 il­le­gal fish pens in the lake, which is equiv­a­lent to 45 per­cent of the to­tal il­le­gal fish pens, Le­garda hopes that the re­set­tle­ment of ISFs can also be done quickly.

“Per­haps the DENR can cre­ate a La­guna Lake Task Force not just for re­set­tle­ment but also to ad­dress the is­sue of sil­ta­tion and to pro­vide pro­grams such as mas­sive plant­ing of bam­boo and sus­tain­able liveli­hood for the peo­ple,” she said, not­ing that this should also be done in other bod­ies of wa­ter sur­rounded by com­mu­ni­ties such as the Manila Bay and the Pasig River.

“It is ac­tu­ally ironic that we are poor when we are abun­dant in wa­ter re­sources. We have used our bays, lakes and rivers as sew­er­age and garbage bins. This is not the way to treat our wa­ter re­sources— our source of life. Let us im­ple­ment our en­vi­ron­men­tal laws, plant man­groves or restore coral reefs, whichever is ap­pli­ca­ble. We should bring back the bounty and restore the eco­log­i­cal in­tegrity of the La­guna de Bay, Manila Bay, Pasig River, and our other threat­ened bod­ies of wa­ter,” Le­garda urged.

More­over, the Sen­a­tor also stressed the need to com­plete the map­ping of coastal re­sources all over the coun­try “be­cause we would not know what we will pro­tect if we do not know what we ac­tu­ally have.”

She added that the DENR’s Bio­di­ver­sity Man­age­ment Bu­reau (BMB) should co­or­di­nate closely with the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s (DA) Bu­reau of Fish­eries and Aquatic Re­sources (BFAR) so that where there are rich fish­ing grounds there should also be com­mu­nity fish land­ing cen­ters, and that coastal pro­tec­tion and con­ser­va­tion pro­grams are in place.

“We have 822 coastal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties all over the coun­try and we must know the state of the corals in these ar­eas, the re­sources that they have in­clud­ing those that can serve as nat­u­ral buf­fers like man­groves and sea­grass beds, and their re­silience pro­grams. Un­der­tak­ing coastal re­source map­ping would give us a clearer view of what we have and what in­ter­ven­tions are nec­es­sary to pre­serve, pro­tect and sus­tain­ably man­age these re­sources. More­over, the DENR, Cli­mate Change Com­mis­sion, the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines Re­silience In­sti­tute, and lo­cal gov­ern­ment units must con­verge to build the re­silience of our coastal com­mu­ni­ties,” Le­garda con­cluded.

Rey­naldo G. Navales

Park Inn By Radis­son Clark Se­cu­rity Man­ager Fran­cis Ros­ales briefs mem­bers of the Ma­bal­a­cat po­lice dur­ing an anti-ter­ror­ism drill the other day. Look­ing on is Park Inn Gen­eral Man­ager Ze­naida Al­can­tara.---

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