EARTHDAY ACTION: Fisherfolk, environmentalists back top environment chief on
pro-people, pro-environment policies
Manila, Philippines – Gathering at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) head office in Quezon, City, the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) and environmental activist Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (KALIKASAN) on Earth Day pushed Environment Secretary Gina Lopez to continue its pro-environment and pro-people policies, namely, the suspension of numerous large-scale mining operations that rampantly destroy the environment and the demolition of vast-tract of fishpens in Laguna de Bay that pollute its aquatic resources.
“It is first time in our history that our environment Czar has prioritized the interest of the people and the environment over the narrow interest of the oligarchs. We laud Secretary Lopez’s persistent campaign against giant mining firms that destroy our mountains, forests and seas. Her anti-fishpen campaign is also highly notable as it is a long-time demand of the Laguna de Bay fishers whom for decades have been deprived of their common fishing grounds,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said during the protest.
Although welcoming Lopez’s actions, the fisherfolk group urges Lopez to also show objection against widespread reclamation and conversion of fishing waters that transform its productive fishing ground into private business ventures at the expense of its fragile marine environment and livelihood of the fisherfolk and coastal settlers.
“We want to remind Secretary Lopez that large-scale mining is not the only corporate activity that destroys environment; there is also this unrestrained dumping of soil and wastes onto the bodies of waters called reclamation. This also poses serious threat to our environment and it often results to natural catastrophes like storm surges, flash floods and other economic disturbances like fish kills, siltation and declining of fish catch,” Hicap said.
PAMALAKAYA cited the dumping of domestic and industrial wastes on the waters of Laguna de Bay by the local government in Angono, Rizal and some parts of Taguig, City. This is one of the many reasons why the 90-thousand hectare brackish lake is now on its dying condition; prominent is the disappearance of various fish species and seaweeds.
“Getting rid of wide fishpens in Laguna de Bay is just a first step towards restoration of the lake; reclamation, dumping of industrial and chemical wastes from the factories and the absence of salt water must be also confronted by the Environment Chief in order to save its aquatic resources from further loss and degradation,”
“Rest assured that Secretary Lopez has our ardent support if she would continue to carry and advance the genuine protection of the environment that will be beneficial to the people,” said Hicap. ###