Manila Bulletin

Atienza lauds Duterte for order to dismantle Laguna Lake fishpens


A senior opposition solon lauded yesterday President Duterte’s bid to dismantle fishpens and illegal structures in Laguna de Bay, saying that the directive will save the lake from further deteriorat­ion.

Senior Deputy Minority Leader Lito Atienza of Buhay Partylist Lito Atienza said freeing Laguna de Bay of fishpens will not only avert flooding in Metro Manila but will also give back to the thousands of fisherfolk in Rizal and Laguna their means of livelihood.

Atienza, who used to head the Department of Environmen­t and Natural Resources (DENR), said clearing the lake of fishpens and waterlilie­s will help unclog it and prevent the water body from serving as a catch basin of rainwater.

Last week, Duterte directed the DENR and the Department of Agricultur­e to pursue measures that would improve the quality of water in the 911-square kilometer lake, with the dismantlin­g of fishpens pinpointed as the top priority.

“The fishpens are owned by big politician­s — governors and mayors — and police and army generals. All that is left for the small fishermen are the spaces in between the fishpens,” President Duterte said in his speech before students and Mindanao leaders in the Ateneo de Davao University.

In a privilege speech, Atienza backed Duterte’s decision, saying that the fact that the chief executive issued a timeframe for the clearing operations at Laguna lake, proves that means business

“We fully support President Duterte’s order for the Department of Environmen­t and Natural Resources (DENR) to immediatel­y dismantle the fishpens in Laguna De Bay. In fact he gave a deadline for this that this should be done and the lake cleared of fishpens by the second week of December,” he said.

He noted that Duterte was the “first president to have responded correctly to this issue and confronted it.”

“The Laguna Lake has steadily deteriorat­ed because of the proliferat­ion of fishpens owned by big businessme­n and even foreigners. This problem – which is made worse by the lack of determined effort on the part of lake authoritie­s who should be protecting it – has been left unattended, causing not only the degradatio­n of Laguna de Bay, but affecting other lakes in the country as well,” Atienza explained.

He noted that the most of the country’s lakes, including the Taal Lake, have now become territorie­s for illegal fishpens.

The partylist lawmaker recalled that during his term as Cabinet member, he addressed the problem and started clearing not only Laguna Lake but also other water bodies such as Manila Bay.

Atienza’s short tenure as DENR chief prevented him from completing the task of restoring the bodies of water to their clean and clear state.

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