Cleaning Lakes, Rivers and Rain Forests

Manila Bulletin, November 22, 2008 | Go to article overview

Cleaning Lakes, Rivers and Rain Forests


THIS week two agencies - DENR and LLDA (Laguna Lake Development Authority) - argued over power and control of the 92,000-hectare inland sea.

LLDA has a lame argument that its charter "gives the agency exclusive control over fishpens" -- to limit, demolish or play deaf and dumb all the time.

Strong v. lame

Secretary Lito Atienza has a stronger and valid view: "The water is incredibly polluted that affects the health of millions." DENR added that "some officials and politicians showed clear efforts to make DENR powerless in demolishing fishpens and illegal structures on Laguna de Bay and Manila Bay." Only a few of us tend to support a lame excuse of local politicians so to speak.

Fishpens became a popular and commercial source of tons of bangus in the mid-1970s. Some "investors" were military officers and local officials or their dummies.

Kind of domain

The lake became an exclusive "ancestral domain" in fishery to hundreds of fishpen builders, but only a handful of them made a pile of money.

Fishpens can be raked clean by a strong wind in stormy weather. But lakeside dwellers have a master plan against strong wind and most of them are making profits.

Jumping fish

In the mid-1970s one AFP colonel invested in fishpens of several hectares and left the business to a katiwala before leaving for a new assignment in Mindanao.

The katiwala prospered beyond his modest dream, but the colonel's investment (of intelligence fund) seemed to fail and could not deliver more than a dozen bangus to his family.

Neighbors started telling stories of bangus using pole vaults to escape into the open, until the debate over the fishpens and jumping bangus was settled finally by a typhoon in July.

With or without fishpens the lake, which I can clearly view from my hilltop hut in Antipolo, appears placid most of the time.

Sea water problem

But the Pasig River, at high tide, delivers countless tons of sea water to the lake from its tail on Manila Bay near the filthy North Harbor where countless thousands of squatters permanently reside. …

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