MANILA, June 2, 2011â€”The fishersâ€™ group, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) slammed the House of Representatives (HOR) for endorsing the controversial P18.7 billion (US$432.62 million) Laguna Lake Dredging Project. The project has already been cancelled by the Aquino government last December 5, 2010.
Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap calls the endorsement by House Committee on Ecology, composed by Representatives Dan Fernandez, Maximo Rodriguez, Rufus Rodriguez, Ma. Evita Arago, Justin March SB. Chipeco, Edgar San Luis, Rodolfo Biazon, Joel Roy Duavit and Isidro Roridguez Jr., as â€œbetrayalâ€ against the Filipino people and the environment as a whole.
â€œWhat these congressmen did was a triple platinum betrayal of national interest. It is a red carpet endorsement of near future across-the-Laguna Lake environmental catastrophe and grand massacre of fishing rights and peopleâ€™s livelihood. We donâ€™t need the P 18.7 B investment if it will mean destruction to more than 6 million people in Laguna Lake,â€ Hicap said.
In the House Committee Report No. 1022, the aforementioned lawmakers have recommended to President Benigno C. Aquino III, to reconsider the project as it was necessary to prevent more flooding in Metro Manila and other areas surrounding and near the lake.
The lawmakers also stated in their report that the loan contract and other commercial financial terms offered by the Belgian contractor Baggerwerken Cloedt En Zoon (BDC) is a â€œlaudable financial packageâ€ and therefore â€œwill not be disadvantageous to the Philippine government.â€
Pamalakaya and the Sagip Laguna Lake Movement have protested the dredging of the lake for it is deemed more â€˜corporateâ€™ than ecological since it will pave to the â€œprivatizationâ€ of the biggest freshwater lake in the country. The groups are referring to private companies that might capitalize on the newly rehabilitated lake, thus taking away the source of livelihood for more than 100,000 fishing families in the Laguna Lake.
In the meantime, the same report stated that due to the â€œarbitraryâ€ cancellation of the project, the State might face sanction as the Kingdom of Belgium might file a case against the Philippine government. If this happens, the lawmakers argued, the Philippines might lose a lot of money in litigation.
The project aimed to dredge the Laguna Lakeâ€™s navigational lane and the entire 8-km stretch of the Napindan Channel. The project also includes the development of transport system like the Laguna Ferry System, service repair centers and the reclamation of lakeshore areas for the development of ports and marinas that will connect the provinces of Laguna, Rizal and cities and municipalities of the National Capital Region. (Noel Sales Barcelona)