With or without Lopez, demolition of fishpens in Laguna de Bay must proceed – PAMALAKAYA
Manila, Philippines – Despite the rejection on the confirmation of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez on her post by the Commission on Appointments (CA) on May 3, the national fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) still pushes President Rodrigo Duterte and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) to continue its anti-fishpen campaign in the 90 thousand hectares brackish Laguna de Bay which was spearheaded by Secretary Lopez.
“We lament the rejection of Secretary Lopez as Environment Secretary; we have lost a dependable ally against large-scale mines that destroy the environment and the livelihood of the rural people. She shows that she is the most competent Environment Chief by standing firm against powerful giant mines without hesitation. She is also committed on seeking consultations with the grassroots to hear their views on government and corporate projects that will affect their civil and economic rights,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA said the campaign to dismantle vast-tract of fishpens in Laguna de Bay kicked off on January 27 where based on the data of LLDA, more than 1,000 hectares of aquaculture structures have been already ejected from the lake. But the fisherfolk group said it is not enough to restore the degrading lake for almost 60% of its total size is still occupied by wide fishpens owned by private corporations and individuals.
“The government must continue to chase down thousands of hectares of fishpens owned by few big-time fishing firms and powerful individuals; some are local politicians and military generals conniving with the local government units and corrupt LLDA officials to monopolize and grab the rich fishing ground of small fisherfolk,” said Hicap.
The fisherfolk group said aside from dismantling of fishpens, Secretary Lopez was also convinced by the fisherfolk to stop all the reclamation activities in Laguna Lake that primarily contribute to its pollution and degradation and in order to rehabilitate the lake.
“Whoever succeeds Secretary Lopez on her post should continue the pro-people policies that Lopez has started. We are already fed up by a traditional Environment Chief that is incompetent enough to prevent environmental plunderers from their destructive corporate activities at the cost of fragile environment and people’s lives,” ended Hicap. ###