AN alliance of owners of small fishpens and cages in Laguna de Bay yesterday called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) to suspend their dismantling operations in the lake and save them from losing their livelihood.
In a press conference in Quezon City, Teofilo Mamplata, spokesperson of Alyansa ng mga Pederasyung Kumikilos sa Lawa ng Laguna, asked the DENR and LLDA to suspend the latter’s Board Resolution 518 which mandates the massive dismantling of all fish cages and pens within the Laguna de Bay.
The demolition of illegal structures within the bay, which started last month, aims to save the water body from further ecological destruction and allow small fishermen who do not have fishpens or cages to fish on the lake.
Under the LLDA board resolution, the two agencies will demolish all fishpens and cages until March 31 this year.
The fish pen owners group, which is being supported by the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), lamented that the board resolution has no clear cut policy on alternative livelihood that can be provided to the affected small fisher pen owners like them.
Mamplata said that they were never consulted prior to the approval of the board resolution and before the DENR and LLDA started their operations.
He added that there will be more than 22,000 fishermen who will be displaced and will lose income if the operations will not be stopped.
“Hindi po kami tumututol sa rehabilitasyon at muling pagbuhay ng Lawa ng Laguna. Subalit ang anumang pagkilos at plano ng pagbuhay ng Lawa na magdudulot ng paghihirap at pagkagutom ng mga maliliit na mangingisda ay mahigpit naming tututulan. Hindi kami tutol sa kaunlaran, ang tanong namin, kasama ba kami sa kaunlaran?” said Mamplata.
He also disclosed that the LLDA chairman had assured them that they will not be affected by the operations since those who are in their zone map will be the ones to be dismantled.
Mamplata, however, categorically admitted that he did not believe the assurance given to them by the LLDA as there were previous instances that the agency reneged on its promise.
“Kung inyong babasahin ang laman ng resolution 518, direktang maaapektuhan ang mga maliliit na mangigisda. Ayon sa laman ng resolution, walang matitirang istruktura sa lawa at titigil ng isang taon ang mga gawain sa lawa. Subalit tahimik ang BR 518 sa nagaganap at patuloy na reclamation sa lawa, makikita ninyo ito sa Bayan ng Taguig, Muntinlupa, Biñan at iba pang lugar sa baybayin nito,” Mamplata added.
He stressed that they are calling for suspension of the dismantling operations to give way for consultations involving them so that they can give their suggestions.
“Gusto rin namin malinawan kung ano ang maaaring ibigay na alternatibong hanapbuhay para sa aming malilit na mangingisda na maaapektuhan ng demolisyon na ito. Sinimulan ng pamahalaan ang operasyon nang hindi man lang inalam kung may pagkukunan ba ng makakain ang mga pamilyang tanging ang pangingisda lamang ang pinagkakakitaan,” Mamplata further lamented.
Asked whether they will be seeking a court intervention through the filing of a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the operations, the group said that they already consulted a lawyer about the issue but decided not to pursue it since they don’t have money to fund the court battle.
“Hinihingan kami ng isang milyon piso para sa pag-file ng TRO pero wala kaming ganung kalaking pera kaya hinihiling na lang namin na suspindihin na lamang muna ang operasyon at bumalik sa lamesa ng pag-uusap,” the group added.
Meanwhile, PCUP Chairman Terry Ridon said that the commission will be convening an inter-agency meeting with the DENR and LLDA as well as the stakeholders to thresh out all questions regarding the provisions of the resolution.
“Within two weeks, magpapatawag po kami ng inter-agency meeting upang humingi ng paglilinaw mula sa DENR at LLDA hinggil sa resolution at mapag-usapan ang kalagayan ng mga maliliit na mangingisda,” Ridon said.