TAGUIG-PATEROS Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano has urged the Duterte administration to give priority to the cleanup of Laguna Lake, the biggest lake in the Philippines and one that provides livelihood to millions of Filipinos.
“Nanawagan kami sa ating Pangulo na pansinin nang husto ang Laguna Lake, kasi ‘pag sinabi niya, ang mga Gabinete at lahat gagawa at gagawa ng paraan, pero ‘pag wala sa radar ng Malacañang, minsan nakakalimutan,” Cayetano told reporters at the sidelines of his recent meeting with the delegation of the Philippine-Hungary Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation (JCEC) and the Department of Trade Industry (DTI).
“Hindi mo naman masisi dahil sa dami [ng dapat gawin] pero ibig kong sabihin, after the presentation, na more than 15 million people around the lake. Magandang proyekto, and win-win ito, mahirap man mayaman, marginalized fishermen, milyonaryong fishpond owner, bata, matanda, makikinabang sa project na ito,” he added.
The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) organized a site visit of the JCEC delegation to Mercado del Lago on December 4, 2020 to discuss the proposed projects on the rehabilitation of Laguna Lake and the provision of compact water treatment units for disaster relief operations.
The meeting was held in connection with the initiatives of the Philippine-Hungary JCEC hosted by DTI. The JCEC is a focused mechanism to discuss trade, investments, and economic cooperation initiatives with Hungary.
The meeting was attended by Cayetano, Hungarian Ambassador Titanilla Tóth, Philippine-Hungary JCEC co-chair Istvàn Joò, DTI Undersecretary and Philippine-Hungary JCEC co-chair Dr. Ceferino S. Rodolfo, Hungary’s Water Technology Corporation CEO Adrian Kiss, LLDA general manager Joey C. Medina, and Laguna First District Rep. Dan Fernandez.
Last October, Hungary proposed $30-million worth of assistance to the Philippine government for the rehabilitation and water treatment of the Laguna Lake, which is the third biggest lake in Southeast Asia and one of the 10 top living lakes in the world.
Stressing the need to rehabilitate the lake, Fernandez told media that the homes of almost 15,000 families in six barangays in San Pedro and Santa Rosa, Laguna are still submerged in floodwaters after the Laguna Lake overflow due to typhoon Ulysses which hit the country during the second week of November.
He said there are six barangays in Laguna that get flooded when heavy rains fall in other areas like La Mesa dam and Marikina.
“Lahat ng tubig nila, bumuhos dito sa Laguna Lake, at yung aming mga nakatirang tao doon sa anim na barangay na yun, ay yung tubig na nanggaling sa lakeshore, umapaw na magsa-sacrifice kami dahil aabot yun ng hanggang tatlong buwan na mananatili sila sa tubig,” Fernandez said.
Asked by reporters if the government will have the resources to embark on the project given the increased expenses in its battle against COVID-19, Cayetano said the cleanup is long overdue and will benefit millions of Filipinos.
“We have to put our money where our mouth is, ‘ika nga. Hindi panay salita; gawin ito… So it’s time to also reassess ngayon ano ‘yung mga priority ni Presidente noong 2016, ano ‘yung mga natupad—at marami naman—at ano naman ‘yung mga medyo napag-iwanan. At isa na d’yan ang Laguna Lake,” he said.