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MANILA, Philippines – Fisherfolk, led by the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (FARMC) in Rizal, filed a complaint before the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) on Wednesday, January 10, asking for the suspension of reclamation activities in Laguna Lake.
Joining the fisherfolk during the protest outside LLDA’s national office were groups Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Sanlakas Rizal, and the Alliance of Unified People’s Organization in Lupang Arenda (APOLA).
Fisherfolk are on the losing end if reclamation activities for the development projects in Laguna Lake continue, said Sonny San Jose, chairperson of Rizal FARMC, in a statement.
“Sa pagliit ng espasyo na puwede naming pangisdaan, lumiliit din ang aming kabuhayan,” San Jose said. (As the space where we can fish diminishes, our livelihood is curtailed.)
Signing the complaint alongside San Jose were members of FARMC in Tanay, Taytay, Angono, Binangonan, Morong, Baras, Jala-Jala, and Pililia. Vicente Barlos, president of APOLA, and Jose Tagle, president of Federation Binangonan, were also signatories.
In the complaint, they urged the LLDA to order a suspension of activities pending investigation, and to start the rehabilitation of affected areas.
The LLDA can receive complaints as a quasi-judicial agency. The body could issue a decision and/or take official action after its investigation. Decisions released by quasi-judicial agencies are usually brought to courts.
Barlos told Rappler in a phone interview that a staff from the LLDA met with them when they filed the complaint and said the office promised to hold a dialogue with them after a week. Barlos said the LLDA clarified that what’s happening in the area was not reclamation but land recovery.
“Sa totoo, kaliwa’t kanan ang ginagawa nilang reclamation,” said Barlos. (In truth, they’re doing reclamation left and right.)
Among the projects slated in the area are large-scale ones, including the government’s Laguna Lakeshore Road Network and San Miguel Corporation’s Southeast Metro Manila Expressway.
Laguna Lake is the largest inland lake in the country, connected to Manila Bay through the Pasig River. It is surrounded by Metro Manila and the provinces of Rizal and Laguna.
The complainants said they conducted a fluvial inspection of Laguna Lake in November 2023 and observed reclamation activities in Taytay, Angono, and Binangonan.
According to them, no consultations were conducted with residents and other affected sectors about the nature and purpose of the projects.
They have since tried to seek clarifications from concerned agencies such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Philippine Reclamation Authority, to no avail.
Thus, they said, they were invoking the authority of the LLDA to investigate the matter.
“[This] complaint is the next step in our search for answers and solutions,” the document read.
Under the law, the LLDA is tasked to protect the lake and regulate development and livelihood activities. The body can “pass upon and approve or disapprove” proposed projects from the government and private sector. – Rappler.com