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No more illegal fishpens at Laguna Lake — LLDA

- Benny G. Enriquez () - October 8, 2006 - 12:00am
Asia’s second largest freshwater basin is now free from illegal structures as the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) completes its drive to transform Laguna de Bay into a communal fishing ground.

LLDA general manager Casimiro Ynares III said the LLDA task force (which includes National Anti-Environmental Crimes Task Force or NAECTF and the Philippine Coast Guard) assigned to undertake the demolition of all illegal structures in the lake (particularly those in the cities of Muntinlupa and Taguig in Metro Manila) has reported a 100-percent completion rate for its mission. Most of the illegal structures which were found to be outside the designated fishpen belt, as provided for under the agency’s zoning and management plan, opted to self-demolish upon their advice.

Records of the LLDA lake management division show that 133 illegally built structures covering 286 hectares, have been torn down. From the LMD list are names and corporations considered as "big and influential."

Ynares said earlier that he felt a "little pressure" as some of these big names lobbied for their exclusion from the demolition list but President Arroyo has stood firm on her resolve to gradually transform Laguna de Bay into a communal multi-facet use freshwater basin.

The LLDA general manager said the clearing of the lake of illegally built structures underwent "due process," with the operators of the illegal fishpens being notified and served notice of violation, notice to self-demolish and finally, the demolition order. These were done as early as 2004, as part of a parallel commitment of then Environment Secretary Elisea Gozun and the LLDA, it being an attached agency of DENR.

The LLDA, in its actual inventory, negotiation and implementation of the tearing down, spent a little over a million for the 30-day demolition period.

Created by Congress in 1966, the LLDA is mandated to preserve, protect and promote sustainable development of the Laguna de Bay.

"This is the first time after several decades that we will decrease the number of fishpen and fish cages in the lake. For some time, these structures conveniently exist and operators have pointed at the socio-economic condition of the fishery sector as the cause. However, the current state of the lake dictates that it can’t endure anymore stress. Not only do these illegal structures add to the pollution of the lake but also their presence alters the lake’s current and affects its natural cleansing ability," Ynares said.
CASIMIRO YNARES ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY ELISEA GOZUN LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY LAKE LLDA METRO MANILA MUNTINLUPA AND TAGUIG NATIONAL ANTI-ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMES TASK FORCE PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD PRESIDENT ARROYO
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