Philippines: Authorities Oppose Laguna de Bay Dredging Project

The opposition to the P18.7-billion Laguna Lake dredging project has reached the provincial level with no less than the governor here opposing the project.

Rizal Gov. Casimiro “Jun” Ynares, III, who is also member of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) and a former LLDA head, said he is seriously considering legal action to oppose the multi-billion peso rehabilitation project due to various concerns.

Ynares admitted, however, that there is a need to rehabilitate the more than 94,000-hectare Laguna Lake, which he said is undoubtedly in bad shape now.

But he said a scientific approach should be done to address the problem.

The governor also expressed opposition to the idea of tapping the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as the implementing agency of the Laguna Lake dredging project despite the provisions under the law which gave mandate to the LLDA.

On top of the legal issues, the provincial chief executive likewise cited the need for the government to re-study the project, which he described as “useless” unless changes in the methodology of the project are made. “Dredging the middle portion of the lake and pushing the silt to the wall of the basin may not serve the purpose for which the dredging project was conceived,” Ynares said.

He also took note of the need to re-forest the mountains if only to guarantee that erosion of the soil wouldn’t take place. Ynares also stressed the need to relocate informal settlers surrounding the Laguna de Bay to improve water quality.

Laguna Lake is considered as Asia’s second largest freshwater basin.

Interestingly, an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) was issued without consulting stakeholders and local governments encompassing the lake due for rehabilitation.

Earlier, two fisherfolk groups, Pamalakaya and Mapagpala, voiced their strong opposition to what they described as “highly-irregular” project.

The project, funded by a private Belgium-based development bank, involves the dredging of the seven-kilometer Napindan Channel, dredging of the 70-kilometer nautical channel of the Laguna de Bay, construction of 12 ferry stations, and rehabilitation of wet lands around the freshwater body.

By Nel B. Andrade (mb)


Source: mb, July 30, 2010;